Zhang Linghe's Two Costume Dramas in Limbo: My Journey To You and Story of Kunning Palace


My Journey To You drama controversy

Call it bad luck or bad timing but it seems 2023 is not a favorable year for Zhang Ling He when it comes to dramas. He has two highly anticipated costume dramas supposed to air this year: The Story of Kunning Palace and My Journey To You but these dramas went into limbo due to unforeseen events.

The 25-year-old charmer debuted in acting in 2020 but it was last year that he rose to popularity when he starred in "Love Between Fairy and Devil" with Dylan Wang and Esther You. 

My Journey To You drama controversy
Zhang Ling He in My Journey To You

So drama fans became excited that he and Esther would pair again this year as main leads. However, it looks like time is harsh to Zhang Ling He as something controversial came in days before the airing schedule.

Here's what we know so far:

On August 20, 2023, C-drama newbie, Chu Zijun, who has a supporting role in My Journey To You, was reportedly arrested at the filming location of his new drama, "Doulou Continent" season 2 (starring Zhou Yiran and Zhang Yuxi) on sexual assault allegation. 

Chu Zijun is apparently sued for raping a minor, although we did not know the extent of his relationship with this girl, but considering that the girl is below 18 years old, irrespective if it was a mutual decision, it can still be considered "rape".

My Journey To You drama controversy
Chu Zijun

Upon receiving the bad news, the production crew of "My Journey To You" reportedly scrambled for last-minute editing to resubmit the material for another review. 

The airing schedule of this drama is supposed to be today, August 27, 2023, according to some reports, however, iQiyi has not posted any announcement regarding its release date. 

With just days left to edit the scenes, the film crew of the drama reportedly worked day and night to have a new version, deleting all the scenes of Chu Zijun's character. But problems seem to be piling up for the production now.

Chu Zijun portrays Xue Gong Zi (the brother of Xue Tong Zi portrayed by Joseph Zeng), it is just a minor character in My Journey To You, however, it is not also a random role, so there are scenes perhaps that he has interaction with the main leads, either Zhang Linghe or Esther Yu, and if his scenes will all be deleted, it will be most likely removed some scenes of the main leads, which might affect the quality of this drama as there will be gaps in the development of the story.

So if My Journey To You pushes through with their airing schedule tonight on iQIYI, we will be watching a chop-chop series with a bangled script. 

My Journey To You Chinese drama
Posters from iQiyi 

This turn of events will also heavily impacted Joseph Zeng because he only has a guest role in this drama. And most likely most of his scenes are with Chu Zijun because they played  siblings. So the appearance of Joseph Zeng in this drama would be lessen! 

Unless Xue Gongzi is a significant character, the crew might never plan a reshoot. And just make use of what they have. So it's up to the production and the management if they will still air a drama that underwent a last-minute editing. I'm afraid the quality might really get affected. 

It is still uncertain if My Journey To You will really push through tonight, after all, another Zhang Ling He costume drama, The Story of Kunning Palace with Bai Lu, was pulled out just two hours from its scheduled airing in May this year due to "technical reasons".

The Story of Kunning Palace

So what's the issue with this drama's sudden pull-out? This was supposed to air on iQIYI in May 2023, however, two hours before its airing schedule, iQIYI suddenly announced the airing of the drama would be postponed due to technical reasons. Something that they did not elaborate. Ultimately, the drama was not given another airing schedule. 

So what really happened? Again it has nothing to do with Zhang Ling He. 😀

Chinese Netizens had a way of discovering the real reason. And the blame was put on Zhou Jun Wei, the second male lead in The Story of Kunning Palace. Allegedly, Zhou Jun Wei, who is a Canadian citizen, created friction with the Chinese authorities towards the end of 2022 due to his social media post about a blank piece of white paper.

Chinese drama controversy
Zhou Jun Wei

His action was interpreted as insinuating a silent "protest" against the Chinese government after people were being silenced to express their grievances about how the pandemic was handled in China. 

In 2022, major cities in China, including Shanghai, were put in lockdown due to the re-emergence of COVID-19. Some Chinese citizens went out to protest the order, and others, including Zhou Jun Wei, were posting on social media with a blank piece of white paper to voice their protests. 

So it was believed that the production crew of The Story of Kunning Palace was ordered to remove the scenes of Zhou Jun Wei to be given a go signal to air.

But unlike Chu Zijun in My Journey To You who played only a minor role, Zhou Jun Wei's character in The Story of Kunning Palace is a significant one that when they remove all his scenes it will badly affect the whole story of the drama. 

So unless they do a reshoot and replace Zhou Jun Wei, The Story of Kunning Palace might never be aired. It is still unknown if the production and management will push through with the reshoot of Zhou Jun Wei's character since it has a massive impact on the scheduling of all the cast involved.

Prisoner of Beauty
The Prisoner of Beauty poster

Back to Chu Zijun. 

Following his arrest, the filming of Doulou Continent season 2 was temporarily stopped. He will be certainly replaced by another actor and reshoot his scenes.

The Prisoner of Beauty a costume drama starring Liu Yuning and Song Zu'er seems having a problem too. The filming was already done in July this year. 

The production wants to release a teaser but is pushed back since Chu Zijun has a supporting role there. The Prisoner of Beauty is still in the post-production stage and is not yet done with the final editing. 

Chu Zijun is just starting his showbiz career. He just debuted in acting this year via "Mary Me, My Queen" which was aired on Tencent between March and April this year. But with this latest scandal he got involved in, his career path in the Chinese entertainment industry seems bleak. 

While the investigation of his sexual assault charges is ongoing, he is expected to never appear in any shows in China. And even if he is cleared out of the charges, it's unknown if he can still go back into showbiz considering China's view on celebrities who misbehave.

The Story of Kunning Palace and My Journey To You are dramas in which Zhang Ling He has a major lead role. He has still one upcoming drama to be released, Tiger and Crane, but he has equal billing in the main role with four other actors. 

He has a supporting role in the upcoming xianxia drama, Fox Spirit Matchmaker: Yue Hong, hopefully, this will be shown this year.

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