Shooting is due to begin on the $8m costume drama for South Korean studio CJ E&M.

Leading South Korean studio CJ E&M confirms top star Lee Byung-hun is set to play the lead in historical drama Masquerade (working title).

The Prince and the Pauper” type story is to be directed by Choo Chang-min, whose drama Late Blossom became a word-of-mouth sleeper hit earlier this year. Screenwriter Hwang Jo-yun, whose credits include Old Boy, is writing the script.

Lee is currently in the US playing the role of Storm Shadow in the Hollywood production G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation. He is continuing the role from 2009’s G.I Joe: the Rise of Cobra. The prolific star’s other credits include starring in KIM Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil and The Good, The Bad, The Weird as well as PARK Chan-wook’s Joint Security Area (JSA).

Set in the Joseon Dynasty, the costume drama Masquerade will feature Lee playing two roles - a charismatic monarch and the sympathetic commoner who takes his place and learns about the realities of ruling. The story also involves a love connection with the queen.

Although veteran director Kang Woo-suk (Silmido) was previously reported to be attached to the project, Choo has been locked to direct. In addition to his recent heartwarming and romantic hit Late Blossom, he had also proved his abilities with the hit comedy Mapado: Island of Fortunes (2004).

Budgeted at $8m, Masquerade is due to start shooting in mid-January 2012.