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Kim Hyun Joong Leaves "Barefooted Friends" To Focus On Drama

BY Joan MacDonald | Oct 31, 2013 11:57 AM EDT

Kim Hyun Joong

Kim Hyun Joong has left the variety show "Barefooted Friends" to prepare for his new drama, "Inspiring Generation."

According to his entertainment agency, Key East Entertainment, Kim's departure should not be seen as a reflection of the show's merits. His only reason for leaving was scheduling conflicts.

"The filming for 'Barefoot Friends' that took place on Oct. 27 was Kim Hyun Joong's last one," said a representative from his agency. "He wants to prepare for his upcoming drama so he can show himself in the best possible light."

It has been a while since fans saw him in a drama.  The singer and actor was last glimpsed in a  "Dream High" cameo two years ago and had a leading role in "Playful Kiss" three years ago.

One reason that fitting in "Barefooted Friends" became so complicated was because his new drama is filming in China. "Inspiring Generation" takes place in 1930s Shanghai and Kim will play a backstreet fighter names Sin Jeong Tae.  The story is based on a manga of the same name.

The SS501 idol singer became a kdrama star when he played Yoon Ji Hoo in the 2009 drama "Boys Over Flowers," which was adapted from the Japanese manga "Hana Yori Dango," For that drama he received both Best Actor and Popularity awards. He then appeared in "Playful Kiss," which was also based on a Japanese manga. Then he agreed to appear in the manga-based "City Conquest," which was cancelled.

But Kim is not the only star who may have to leave "Barefooted Friends" due to scheduling conflicts. Yoon Shi Yoon and Uee also have upcoming drama commitments.

Although Yoon Shi Yoon's agency says he has no plans to leave, he has a role in the drama "The Prime Minister and I," which begins filming in December. 

SBS representatives say nothing has been confirmed yet about his leaving the show. "We are still in discussions."

According to his agency, Taxi Entertainment, he will say on the show.

"Even if he has drama commitments, filming takes place during the weekend so it will not present a problem, said a Taxi representative.

Uee is already filming the drama "Golden Rainbow" with co-star Jung Il Woo. She is trying to fit both into her schedule.

"Barefooted Friends" has not done well in the ratings. The reality variety show started out featuring outdoor challenges and then focused on cooking in celebrity homes, which slightly improved the ratings. But if these stars leave the lineup, which also includes Kang Do Hong, Yoon Dong Shin and Eun Ji Won, some fear that the show will not survive.

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