One Of Lost's Main Characters Wasn't Originally Part Of The Show

There are a lot of reasons to love "Lost," but the characters Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) are two of the best. In a show that features a whole other slew of romances and a lot of mysterious characters to keep you hooked, these two were compelling characters from start to finish. The story of their marriage, their tragic deaths, and their reunion in the flash-sideways afterlife is complicated, but never boring. 

They were also unique in that they were two of the first Asian Americans to be cast as series regulars on a popular network show. The fact that the two characters were also written as born-and-raised in South Korea, rather than having grown up in America like most of the other characters, helped to broaden the show's scope. "Lost" was a series featuring characters from all across the globe, and all of them were compelling. 

Notably, Yunjin Kim originally auditioned for the part of Kate Austin, the series' lead female character who spent most of her pre-island life as a criminal on the run. In an interview with GQ, Kim recalled how J.J. Abrams responded to her audition. "You're not right for this role," he apparently said, then added, "Wait, sit down. Let me get back to you."

The role for Kate would eventually go to Evangeline Lilly, but Abrams' team liked Kim's performance so much that they still wanted her on the show, even if they didn't currently have a part for her. "They literally called like an hour later and said, 'We love her, we want to write her a role. We don't know exactly what, but can we hold her?'" Kim explained. Within just a couple more hours, the character of Sun-Hwa Kwon was created. 

One of Lost's best characters

Pretty much all the main survivors of the pilot episode's plane crash had some big secret they were carrying around, and Sun had perhaps the most interesting of them all: she could actually speak English perfectly, but her husband didn't know. It served as a good example of how casting bilingual actors can lead to exciting storytelling opportunities. When they asked Kim if she was comfortable speaking in Korean for the show, she was initially hesitant: "I was like, 'sure, but I am gonna eventually speak in English, right?'" They ended up letting her do both, using her ability to speak two languages as a narrative hook for getting viewers interested in her backstory. 

When Jin found out Sun was able to speak English in season 1, he rejected her. But not only does he eventually forgive her, he starts learning English himself. This helps Jin appreciate Sun's perspective more, which allows him to realize the importance of getting closer to her. His final words to her in the climactic season 6 episode "The Candidate" are, "I love you, Sun" — said in English. The fact that he didn't speak in their native language understandably rubbed some fans the wrong way, but it tied nicely into Jin's arc: Korean may be their native language, the big thing that separates them from the other island characters, but it was while Jin was learning English that the two rekindled their love. For him to speak his dying words in English shows how much closer he's gotten to Sun, and how open-minded he's grown over time on the island.      

A risk rewarded

What makes Sun and Jin's storylines over the series more impressive is the fact that Jin's character wasn't supposed to go very far either. In a career-spanning interview with Vulture, Daniel Dae Kim revealed that Jin was nearly killed off in season 1 due to his unlikeable nature, but luckily one of the writers stuck by him. The writer was Monica Macer; she'd later go on to write for shows like "Teen Wolf," "Queen Sugar," and "Nashville," but only wrote for "Lost" during its first season. "She is African American and Korean American, he explained, "She lobbied for me." He added that Macer is still a "friend to this day."

As many times as "Lost" got into trouble over the years for not having a big endgame plan, these two characters proved that sometimes winging it is for the best. Sun was never originally a part of the show at all and Jin was nearly killed off in season 1, yet when they did meet their deaths together in the end of the final season, it was one of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire show. 

Yunjin Kim may not have gotten the role she initially auditioned for, but arguably she got to play an even more interesting character than Kate. It seems like a crazy risk for a show to add a whole new main character into the mix based on one actress' audition, but looking back, we're certainly glad they did.