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Five-0 Redux

Fans say mālama pono to Kono after Park’s ‘Hawaii Five-0’ exit


    "Hawaii Five-0" actress Grace Park as Kono Kalākaua from season seven.

After almost five weeks of reflecting on the untimely exit of “Hawaii Five-0” stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, fans seem to be nearing a state of reluctant acceptance. Last week, fans wished Kim a bittersweet farewell,  and while their feelings for Park and her incomparable character Kono Kalākaua are also steeped in sadness, they were eager to wish her well and recall some of Park’s best Kono moments.

While Park has not yet spoken about her exit, according to “Variety” she had asked for a salary deal for only “less than half of a full season’s worth of episodes.” Her salary request was deemed “a financially challenging prospect for the network.” The entertainment industry magazine also stated, “that the lack of pay parity with O’Loughlin and Caan after seven seasons as central characters was a deal-breaker.” It was clear in the rest of the article that Park and Kim were only seen as supporting players by CBS, and their salary offers to both actors were significant enough to be fair.

As with most ‘Five-0’ conflicts, the line in the sand was drawn last month, with some fans angry about Park and Kim not being paid their equal due. Other fans are angry that Kim said in his July 5 statement that they were not offered the same salaries, as fellow main cast members Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, because he and Park are Asian. And other fans are upset that Kim and Park are breaking up the Five-0 team because of money. Or race. Or both.

As fans are nursing their grief, sad that both actors will not be returning in September, they still want to have a chance to say aloha to Park. They sent many messages of love and appreciation last week for Kim, and their responses for Park are very similar. The messages came in different languages and from all over the world and both praise Park and wish her well. Fans loved Kono for her tenacity, her ability to slip easily into an evening gown to go undercover, and still be able to fight her way out of any situation.

They loved that she never let anything hold her back from being an amazing hand-to-hand combatant, or an expert shot. And they loved her relationship with her cousin, Chin (Kim); her husband, Adam (Ian Anthony Dale); as well as with her Boss, McGarrett (O’Loughlin). She got along well with Grover (Chi McBride), and her relationship with recurring characters Sang Min (Will Yun Lee) and Gerard Hirsch (Willie Garson) was both hilarious and spicy at its best.

Fans had so much to say about Kono, and what they loved about Park’s character. Odete Iboud, from France, wrote on the Five-0 Redux Facebook page that, “Kono is a pillar of ‘Five-0.’ I loved her character from the start! My favorite episode is definitely ‘Pukaʻana’ (‘Exodus’). I think this is the only episode where we really see all her potential as an actress. And the line ‘he had a knife’ was priceless!” She’s going to [be missed on] the show! I wish her much happiness and I am happy that she finally [can] enjoy time with her family,” wrote Iboud.

Susan Morrell of Park City, Utah wrote about Kono’s introduction to McGarrett and Danno in the Pilot episode of the series. “She had me with that first punch to the surfer who cut her off [her wave]– this was not just the pretty face on the team! I liked when Steve called on her to use her sniper skills, like when catching Victor Hesse. Oh, and I love Kono’s scenes with Sang Min. He’s going to miss his Spicy Lady for sure!” wrote Morrell.

Nadezhda Miloshevska of Bitola, Macedonia wrote about the same scene as her “absolute favorite Kono moment” and mentioned that she hit with “such a force and fierceness.” Miloshevska also wrote about another favorite moment,  “when they were undercover and she was kissing Danny in Mālama Ka ‘Āina’ (‘Respect the Land’). Her banter with Hirsch, the way she stayed with Adam throughout the whole process of him clearing his name, and when Adam was in jail– she was just being her [tough] self.”

Angie Gerstner from Munich, Germany wrote on Facebook, “I always loved the scenes when she is fighting the bad guys in hand-to-hand combat or when she saves the day with her excellent shooting skills, such as in “Hookman” and many other episodes. My favorite scenes also included the ones with Willie Garson because they were a lot of fun to watch,” wrote Gerstner.

Karen Dritto from Staten Island, NY wrote “Kono was that little bit of sugar the guys needed at times, but she was definitely the spicy (thanks, Sang Min!) they wanted. She was their sharpshooter saving the day on many occasions (she can shoot a pimple off an elephant’s [butt] at 500 yards) and [she was] a force to be reckoned with. Whether she was shimmying up a tree to grab surveillance video, dancing the tango, or being on the lam with Adam,  she was just one of the guys. I’m sad there won’t be any more cousin moments or moments with Steve, but everything happens for a reason. I’ll miss her but wish her much luck in her future. Hopefully, they’ll figure out a way for her to make a few return appearances on the show, wrote Dritto.

Five-0 fan Anne Fernandes wrote a sweet “Aloha Kono Kalakaua” via Facebook: “I love the scene when [she got her] uniform and badge; the scene when Adam carries [her] over the threshold after [he got] out of jail. And of course, [her] sharp shooting and fighting skills. [She] you will be missed. Me ke Aloha, Grace Park, you show them what women can do!” wrote Fernandes.

Helma Gerth-Koelman of the Netherlands wrote, “My favorite moments are the ones when Kono uses her sniper abilities and fighting skills. I liked the humor between her and Sang MIn. I always considered her to be the real ohana of the team. I liked many episodes especially when Kono went alone on her [getting lost in the] ocean and the episode with the kidnapped girls. Thank you, Grace, for your great contribution for this show, wishing you all the best.”

Leslie Campbell-Marsh of Chattanooga, Tennessee wrote about Park being “so instrumental in making Five-0 a team and ohana. I thoroughly enjoyed watching [her] on ‘Hawaii Five-0.’ But I do understand [she has] a family and wanted to spend time with them. I will miss [her] very much but wish [her] all the best for the future!”

Many fans wrote about how much they will miss Kono and that the series would not be the same without her beauty and strength. Many fans wrote about how much they will miss Kono-Adam and Kono-Chin scenes between Park and fellow actors Kim and Dale. Among all of the best wishes, were posts of understanding, posts of sadness, and posts of love and deep aloha.

Still, fans may find that when the show returns in September, that the hole left by Park may continue to be felt throughout the entire season.


Sadly this week’s “Hawaii Five-0” repeat was canceled, as CBS aired “Son of Sam: The Killer Speaks,” an interview with serial killer David Berkowitz. The special aired Berkowitz’s first major TV interview in a decade and was his only interview about the 40th anniversary of his arrest.

Five-0 will return on Aug. 18, with “Pōniu I Ke Aloha” (“Crazy in Love”), a repeat of their Valentine’s episode. Fan reaction was mixed when this episode aired. Some enjoying watching McGarrett and Danno celebrate Valentine’s Day with their girlfriends, while other fans cried foul at the lack of real chemistry between McGarrett and sometimes girlfriend, Lynn Downey (Sarah Carter).

Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright, and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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