Days after Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu called out the show’s cultural differences that led to its cancellation, a cast member has now voiced out her own difficulties on set.
Actress Jean Yoon, who plays Umma Yong-mi Kim, explained her side to a now-deleted opinion piece criticizing castmate Simu Liu’s recent post calling out the CBC show’s “overwhelmingly white” producers.
“The lack of Asian female, especially Korean writers in the writers room of Kims made my life VERY DIFFICULT & the experience of working on the show painful,” The 59-year old shared in a lengthy Twitter thread replying to critic John Doyle.
She went on to explain that while there were two co-creators on the show, Choi Ins and Kevin White, Ins was often overshadowed in the development of the series.
“Mr. Kevin White was the showrunner, and clearly set the parameters.” Only Ins and the rest of the main cast were Korean.
Dear sir, as an Asian Canadian woman, a Korean-Canadian woman w more experience and knowledge of the world of my characters, the lack of Asian female, especially Korean writers in the writers room of Kims made my life VERY DIFFICULT & the experience of working on the show painful— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
“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.”
With Ins helming most of the show's fifth season, Yoon shared that some of the show’s spirit had returned. But it wasn't long until the lack of Korean representation cracked open the false cultural references that had to be brought up by the cast.
“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.”
What I find tragic about this situation was the refusal to believe the urgency with which we advocated for inclusion in the writers room. The failure to send us treatments, outlines, the resistance to cultural corrections & feedback. There is so much I am proud of. But— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
She concluded with a callback to an episode of Season 5, where her character wept in search of saving grace.
“The more she prays for something, the more certain it will get worse. That's what it felt like. The love died.”
In the final bedroom scene in S5, Mrs. Kim weeps because she believes that God has abandoned her. The more she prays for something, the more certain it will get worse. That's what it felt like. The love died. 사랑 없으면 소용이 없고 아무것 도 안입니다.— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
Meanwhile, Liu's Facebook post shared similar dissatisfaction as Yoon. He claimed that the cast consistently tried to ensure that their characters were being portrayed authentically.
"I voiced my interest in shadowing a director or writer's room," Liu had shared.
"I wasn't the only one who tried. 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."
"I still believe in what the show once stood for; a shining example of what can happen when the gates come down and minorities are given a chance to shine," he Liu concluded.
Kim's Convenience is currently streaming its fifth and final season on Netflix.
Photos from Kim's Convenience's IMDb page.