It took 31 years, but Daniel Dae Kim finally lands his first lead role in TV series

Daniel Dae Kim in a flannel shirt
Daniel Dae Kim, photographed at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A multitude of entertainment luminaries are congratulating veteran TV star and executive producer Daniel Dae Kim on a milestone many believe is “ well overdue” and “so deserved.”

On Wednesday, National Geographic announced that Kim and “Scandal” alum Tony Goldwyn have been tapped to star in the second season of its anthology thriller “The Hot Zone.” And on Twitter, “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0” actor Kim celebrated the casting update with an astonishing fact:

“Hardly the biggest news given what’s going on in the world today,” he tweeted. “But after 31 years of working in TV, this is my first series lead.”

Screenwriters, entertainment journalists and fellow actors alike were quick to applaud Kim, who captivated audiences as Flight 815 survivor Jin-Soo Kwon in the long-running ABC series “Lost,” before he became known as Detective Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly in the smash CBS crime drama “Hawaii Five-0.”

Kim has since appeared in other TV projects, including “Flack,” “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” and the hit ABC medical drama “The Good Doctor,” which he also executive produces.

“30 years overdue,” tweeted “Crazy Rich Asians” screenwriter Adele Lim. “Can not WAIT!!!”

“Ahh!” tweeted “Late Night With Seth Meyers” writer Karen Chee, along with some celebratory party-hat emojis. “This is SO deserved!!!!”


“Kim’s Convenience” actress Jean Yoon pointed out that the announcement broke Jan. 13, Korean American Day, “no less,” which Kim called “a beautiful coincidence.”

“Happy #KoreanAmericanDay!” he added.

The next installment of “The Hot Zone,” titled “Anthrax,” will star Kim as Matthew Ryker, an FBI agent who specializes in microbiology. Set in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the new season will see Kim’s character team up with microbiologist Bruce Ivins (Goldwyn) to track down and unmask the 2001 anthrax killer.

“Tony and Daniel are both wonderfully versatile and dimensional actors who will bring complexity and depth to these characters,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of scripted and documentary films for National Geographic, in a statement. “We can’t wait for their star turns in this startling, authentic and timely scientific thriller.”

“Anthrax” follows the intense first season of the Nat Geo drama, which starred Emmy winner Julianna Margulies as a veterinary pathologist fighting to contain the spread of Ebola. Production on the sophomore season of “The Hot Zone” is set to begin this winter in Toronto.

Here’s a sampling of social-media reactions to Kim’s casting.