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‘Five-O’ re-creates internment camp

December 11, 2013
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - The creators of the CBS drama "Hawaii Five-O" recently rebuilt an Oahu internment camp used during World War II to detain Japanese, German and Italian internees and prisoners of war shipped to the islands.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the re-created Honouliuli Internment Camp will be shown in an episode airing Friday.

The plot involves an elderly Japanese man who seeks revenge for a murder he witnessed when he was interned at the camp with his family in 1943. Steve McGarrett's "Five-0" team investigates the crime as a cold case.

Peter Lenkov, the show's executive producer, wanted to include the internment experience ever since he read about it while researching Hawaii history before writing the series pilot.

"Why not?" he said. "It's a powerful story. And honestly, it's a story most people don't know about."

The Honouliuli camp was the largest of several camps built in Hawaii during World War II. The declaration of martial law on Dec. 7, 1941, allowed military authorities to immediately imprison Japanese nationals and their children, even those youngsters who were U.S. citizens. By the end of the war, an estimated 1,800 people had been detained or interned.

The "Five-O" set included a long barbed-wire fence and wooden guard tower built using actual military blueprints. A machine gun was at the top of the guard tower.

Six Army-issue tents with muddy, wood floors contained cots, tables, lanterns and suitcases. A wedding photograph of a woman in a kimono was in one tent.

The set was so realistic it surprised Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, when she visited.

"Oh, my God," the 60-year-old Hayashino said as she wiped away a tear. "I wasn't expecting that."

Halfway through the show's third season, Lenkov was reminded of the internment saga while watching a play produced by "Five-0" star Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly on the series. The play, "Hold These Truths," tells the real-life story of Gordon Hirabayashi, a Seattle man who took a stance against World War II internment camps on the Mainland.

Lenkov knew it would take "Five-0" fans beyond the boundaries of the typical crime procedural but thought they were eager for that kind of departure.

"We found that audiences are hungry for different kinds of stories - telling stories outside the box, not the same thing week after week," he said. "So being able to do this is really a luxury because we're doing well and the audience is open to it."

Kim said he had a lot of questions when he first heard about the episode.

"At the time, I hadn't read the script so I wasn't sure, frankly, how well it was going to be done," he said after arriving on the set for the first time. "I'm really happy to find out how sensitive they were and how well they explored the subject matter."



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