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Janice Y. K. Lee’s novel adapted into an Amazon Prime drama ‘Expats’

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“Expats,” which will be released on Amazon Prime on January 26, features Nicole Kidman, who produced and stars in the series, and Ji-young Yoo, a second-generation Korean American actress.

A bestseller by second-generation Korean-American author Janice Y. K. Lee has been adapted into a drama starring iconic Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman and talented Korean-American actress Ji-young Yoo.

Amazon Prime has announced a six-episode drama adaptation of Korean-American author Janice Y. K. Lee’s 2016 novel, “The Expatriates,” which will premiere globally on January 26.

The drama, which was unveiled at a global production announcement held simultaneously online and offline on January 18, is titled “Expats.” Directed by the acclaimed Asian filmmaker Lulu Wang, who has garnered multiple awards, the drama stars Nicole Kidman. Currently recognized as one of the foremost actresses in global cinema, Kidman serves not only as the lead role but also takes on the role of a producer.

Ji-young Yoo in “Expats” (poster and stills)
Ji-young Yoo in “Expats” (poster and stills)

The role of “Mercy,” one of the three main characters in the drama, will be played by second-generation Korean-American actress Ji-young Yoo, who will be on the screen with Nicole Kidman.

Mercy, the daughter of Korean immigrants, was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from the prestigious Columbia University, but after a series of temporary jobs, she decided to move to Hong Kong for a fresh start and to resolve the problems she had faced in the past.

“Mercy has a lot in common with me,” Yoo said in an exclusive interview with the Korea Daily. “Mercy and I were born in the U.S. around the same age. Being the child of immigrants, we share fears, uncertainties, and inner complexes about the future. That’s what drew me to the role.”

Born and raised in Colorado, Yoo moved to Los Angeles seven years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a movie star.

“I read the original novel over and over again and communicated with director Lulu Wang as much as possible to understand the character. I’m nervous and excited because it’s my first major drama series,” she said, adding that she is looking forward to the release of the drama and asking for a lot of interest and love from LA Korea Daily readers.

Meanwhile, “Expats” depicts the lives of three women with different family backgrounds, economic conditions, and upbringings as they meet and interact in the narrow circle of Hong Kong’s American community. The first two episodes will premiere consecutively on January 26, with the rest of the series premiering once a week for four weeks.

The author, Janice Y. K. Lee, has garnered attention from the mainstream literary community after her first novel, “The Piano Teacher,” hit the New York Times’ 11 best-seller list for fiction within two weeks of its release in January 2009.

BY YEJIN KIM, JUNHAN PARK    [kim.yejin3@koreadaily.com]