Another Kim's Convenience star has spoken out about their bad experience on the show
For the second time in a matter of days, a cast member from the hit Toronto-based TV show Kim's Convenience has decided to go public with some less-than-positive experiences they had on set.
The CBC sitcom, which recently wrapped up its fifth and final season, has been lauded for its portrayal of the immigrant experience, and centres around a Korean-Canadian family that runs an eponymous Moss Park convenience store.
In an unfortunate blow to fans, though, it seems that things behind the scenes between cast and crew weren't as amicable as one would like to think — now according to not just one actor, but two.
Star Simu Liu, who plays Jung Kim in the show — and has now gone on to achieve Marvel superhero fame — published a lengthy missive to Facebook last week in which he expressed frustration at the way "overwhelmingly white" producers decided to shape the roles of a cast of Asian Canadians.
"We had a plethora of lived experiences to draw from and offer to writer... many of us in the cast were trained screenwriters with thoughts and ideas that only grew more seasoned with time. But those doors were never opened to us in any meaningful way," Liu wrote,
"More importantly, the characters never seemed to grow. I can appreciate that the show is still a hit and is enjoyed by many people... but I remain fixated on the missed opportunities to show Asian characters with real depth and the ability to grow and evolve."
And then on Sunday, in response to some of the avid coverage Liu's unexpected comments were getting, co-star Jean Yoon also stepped up to offer her own story about life during filming.
This is a FACT that was concealed from us as a cast. It was evident from Mr. Choi's diminished presence on set, or in response to script questions. Between S4 and S5, this FACT became a crisis, and in S5 we were told Mr. Choi was resuming control of the show.— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
"The lack of Asian female, especially Korean writers in the writers room of Kims made my life VERY DIFFICULT and the experience of working on the show painful," Yoon, who plays Jung's mother Umma, tweeted at a Globe critic who called parts of Liu's epistle "mean-spirited" and bitter.
Yoon also pointed out that though the show was created by Korean-Canadian Ins Choi, based on an award-nominated play written from his own experiences, Choi was largely overshadowed by non-Asian co-writer and showrunner Kevin White.
She also said that under White's leadership, there were many offensive jokes and "overtly racist" storylines that were "so extremely culturally inaccurate that the cast came together and expressed concerns collectively."
And hey, if I hadn't spoken up all the Korean food in the show would have been WRONG. Ins doesn't know how to cook or how things are cooked, no one else in the writers room were Korean, and THEY HAD NO KOREAN CULTURAL RESOURCES IN THE WRITERS ROOM AT ALL.— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
"What I find tragic about this situation was the refusal to believe the urgency with which we advocated for inclusion in the writers room," she continued in the lengthy Twitter thread.
"[There were] many moments of dismissal & disrespect as an actor, where it mattered, with the writers. And the more successfully I advocated for my character, the more resistance and suspicion I earned from the writers/producers."
In addition to all of this, as Liu indicated in his initial revelation, a forthcoming spinoff from the show selected the only non-Asian main character as its protagonist — something that both Ins and White will be working on as they depart from Kim's, which is what led to its end.
"The producers of the show are indeed spinning off a new show from the Shannon character. It's been difficult for me," Liu stated.
"I remain resentful of all of the circumstances that led to the one non-Asian character getting her own show. And not that they would ever ask, but I will adamantly refuse to reprise my role in any capacity."
But S3 & S4 in particular had many moments of dismissal & disrespect as an actor, where it mattered, with the writers. And the more successfully I advocated for my character, the more resistance and suspicion I earned from the Writers/Producers.— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
Unfortunately, diversity and adequate representation in media — and virtually every other industry — remains absurdly abysmal. But, it is the voices of actors like Liu and Yoon that are helping to draw further attention to the issue in the hopes that things can change.
In other related news, to make the series' conclusion even more heartbreakingly final for viewers, the bodega in which exteriors for Kim's were filmed was put on the real estate market earlier this spring — for less than $200k, at that.
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