‘Iris’ spinoff set for its small-screen debut

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‘Iris’ spinoff set for its small-screen debut


The cast of “Athena: Goddess of War,” from left: Jung Woo-sung, Yu Dong-geun, Cha Seung-won, Kim Min-jong and Choi Si-won [JoongAng Ilbo]

Spies, terrorists and international intrigue return to the small screen next week when the new SBS drama “Athena: Goddess of War” starts airing next week. The show is a spinoff of KBS’s “Iris,” the 2009 serial drama that took the nation by storm with its depiction of a North and South Korea on the verge of unification.

The drama’s leading actors gathered at the Sheraton Walkerhill hotel in Gwangjang-dong, eastern Seoul, on Nov. 30 to give the inside scoop on the spinoff.

“We all know that there is a lot of anticipation for this show because of [Iris],” said Jung Woo-sung, who plays secret agent Lee Jung-woo. He is returning to the small screen for the first time in 15 years, following a successful career in film.

Iris had an audience share of close to 40 percent, topping the ratings in Korea at the time. It was already shown in Japan and will soon be on television in other Asian countries. Iris was known for its high-tech special effects and sky-high budget, as well as a star-studded cast that included Lee Byung-hun.

This time, it’s no different. In addition to Jung, the show features top-notch stars such as model-turned-actor, Cha Seung-won; actress Soo Ae; singer-actor Kim Min-jong; and Super Junior member Choi Si-won.

Like its predecessor, Athena’s production budget is more than 20 billion won ($18.2 million). And like Iris, Athena was shot in multiple locations, including Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan.

“We didn’t focus on making a drama that surpasses the quality of Iris,” said Jung Tae-won, the head of Taewon Entertainment, which produced the drama. “We worked hard to make the show competitive in the global entertainment market.”

The new drama centers on an influential terrorist organization called Athena and the agents of the National Anti-Terror Service. It premieres Monday at 9:55 p.m. on SBS.

By Hannah Kim Contributing writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
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