Turning Back Time with HAWAII FIVE-0’s Cast of Characters, Part 2

Cheryl’s multi-part story on how characters from H50 compare to their previous-run counterparts continues with Daniel Dae Kim’s Chin Ho Kelly –

Looking back at the original Hawaii Five-O, the role of Chin Ho Kelly was played by Kam Fong.  Fong’s real name was Kam Tong Chun, and he was a real-life police officer for 16 years before retiring and ultimately joining the cast of Five-O.  Fong’s son, Dennis Chun, has a recurring role on today’s Five-0.  Unlike his Kelly-role counterpart, Daniel Dae Kim, Fong held “real” jobs that preceded his work on television, including work as a realtor.  When he decided to follow his dream, Fong chose community theatre as a place to start.

Similarly, today’s Chin Ho Kelly, Daniel Dae Kim – also Asian-American – began his acting career in the theatre, where he performed in notable performances like “Romeo and Juliet.”  After a few film roles, Kim settled on a television path and had a role in Lost before Hawaii Five-0.

The Chin Ho Kelly role of today differs widely from the role of the sixties.  Though no real  personal background was ever revealed for Fong’s role, the character was known to be married and to have nine children, as viewers discovered in Episode 20 of Season Two, “Cry, Lie.”  That being said, however, Executive Producer Peter Lenkov insisted that the characters of the reboot Hawaii Five-0 series have a past.  So, for his past, the new Chin Ho Kelly was a star football player at Kukui High School (fictional, by the way) in Honolulu. 

As a side note, the Chin Ho Kelly character in the original Five-O was killed in Episode 24 of Season Ten, “A Death in the Family.”  This plot was suggested by Fong, who had grown tired of his role and work on the series.  (Perhaps with that in mind, in Episode 12 of Season Seven of the new Five-0, “The Deal,” Kim’s character narrowly escapes death after being kidnapped by a drug cartel).

Kim’s Chin Ho Kelly was a decorated police officer before joining the ranks of the Five-0 task force, whereas Kam Fong, years before his acting debut in Hawaii Five-O, was a decorated police officer in real life.

Kim has a production company called 3AD where he plans to showcase projects about which he feels deeply, including Escaping North Korea:  Defiance and Hope in the World’s Most Repressive Country.  The film, written by Mike Kim and Rosalind Ross, chronicles North Korean refugees’ “escape” to China.  The project is currently in development, with no proposed release date announced.

Hawaii Five-0 and MacGyver crossover tonight starting at 8/7c on CBS!