Covid-19 plagues K-drama productions

So far, 10 dramas across multiple broadcast stations have halted production, including The Penthouse: War In Life (above). PHOTO: SBSDRAMA.OFFICIAL/INSTAGRAM

SEOUL- With the resurgence of Covid-19 in Seoul, many dramas have been forced to halt production as actors and staff tested positive for the new coronavirus, or have come in contact with people who have it.

So far, 10 dramas across multiple broadcast stations have halted production, namely The Penthouse: War In Life (SBS), The Spies Who Loved Me (MBC), The Moon Rising River, Bossam, Snowdrop (JTBC), Sisyphus: The Myth (JTBC), Hush (JTBC), Joseon Exorcist (SBS TV), Mr. Queen (tvN) and Lovestruck in the City (Kakao TV).

Some of these dramas have yet to air their first episode. For dramas that are currently airing however, the situation is even more challenging if one of the main actors tests positive for Covid-19.

On Wednesday, three actors - Um Ki-joon, Park Eun-seok and Bong Tae-gyu - of SBS' hit drama The Penthouse: War In Life announced separately through their agencies and social media that they had tested negative.

Um, who had had direct contact with an extra who was diagnosed with Covid-19, announced that he would quarantine himself for two weeks.

The extra, who was diagnosed on Tuesday, appeared in only one scene with Um and Park.

The actor is believed to have been infected with the virus from another extra in a different drama who had tested positive.

Filming of The Penthouse: War In Life was almost finished for the first season when the production team was notified of a positive Covid-19 test. The drama, however, captured 16 per cent of viewership with its latest episode on Tuesday, making it one of the most popular dramas this quarter.

With many drama sets located in close proximity to one another, the industry responded promptly to the extras' diagnoses with production staff immediately cancelling production upon being notified, and staff and actors undergoing tests.

Many broadcast stations have restricted the number of actors present at shoots since February and have followed strict quarantine measures. The norm is also to shoot many episodes in advance in the event of an outbreak affecting the team.

"We have lots of filming that's already taken place and our film staff are divided into two teams so that the chance of us being unable to air a drama is very low," said an MBC drama official.

"Although it is a different story if a main actor tests positive, there has been no such cases so far."

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