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Daniel Dae Kim Speaks Out About Leaving Hawaii Five-0 Over Unequal Pay

Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park speak during the Hawaii Five-0 panel discussion during Comic-Con 2010 at San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2010.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

After seven seasons, actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are leaving Hawaii Five-0, reportedly because their contracts paid them significantly less than their white co-stars. On Wednesday, Kim confirmed the news: “I will not be returning to Hawaii Five-0 when production starts next week,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue.”

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Kim and Park were reportedly seeking pay equal to that of their costars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but their final offers, according to Variety, were still 10–15 percent lower than O’Loughlin’s and Caan’s salaries. Kim alluded to the pay discrepancy in his statement, writing that “the path to equality is rarely easy. But I hope you can be excited for the future. I am.”

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Kim and Park’s contract dispute reflects an industrywide pay gap between actors of color and their white peers, and CBS in particular has long been criticized for a lack of diversity, most recently after announcing six new shows for the network’s fall lineup, five of which have white, male leads. (The other is S.W.A.T., which stars former Criminal Minds star Shamar Moore.)

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Despite the contract dispute that led him to depart from the show, Kim expressed appreciation for his character, Chin Ho Kelly.

As an Asian American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well developed, three dimensional character like Chin Ho. I will miss him sincerely.

What made him even more special is that he was a representative of a place my family and I so dearly love. It has been nothing short of an honor to be able to showcase the beauty and people of Hawaii every week, and I couldn’t be prouder to call these islands home. To my local community, mahalo nui loa.

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