'Kim's Convenience' Star Jean Yoon Says Original Season 5 Scripts Were "Overtly Racist"
"The lack of Asian female, especially Korean writers in the writers' room of Kim's made my life VERY DIFFICULT"
In response to an article in the Globe and Mail by John Doyle titled "Bitterness abounds: More fallout from Kim's Convenience," Yoon took to her social media to describe her experience with Kim's showrunners, explaining that the lack of Korean voices in the writers' room led to some "overtly racist" plotlines and a "painful" experience for the series' Korean actors.
"The lack of Asian female, especially Korean writers in the writers' room of Kim's made my life VERY DIFFICULT & the experience of working on the show painful," Jean Yoon wrote in a Twitter thread.
Yoon went on to say that Kim's original creator Ins Choi took a back seat to showrunner Kevin White from Season 1 to 4, and that White "clearly set the parameters" for most of the show. Choi's "diminished" role in the series was "a FACT," she stated, "that was concealed from us as a cast."
When Choi took on a bigger role in the series for Season 5, Yoon says the cast came together collectively to ask for the removal of "culturally inaccurate" storylines, to which Choi agreed.
"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," Yoon explained. "The more successfully I advocated for my character, the more resistance and suspicion I earned from the Writers/Producers."
Liu previously stated similar concerns about the show, saying, "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."
Kim's Convenience came to an abrupt end on April 13.
See Joon's comments below, and read Exclaim!'s interview with Liu and Andrew Phung about how Kim's Convenience has changed the Canadian TV landscape.
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
Your attack on my cast mate @SimuLiu, in the defense of my fellow Korean artist Ins Choi is neither helpful nor merited. Mr. Choi wrote the play, I was in in. He created the TV show, but his co-creator Mr. Kevin White was the showrunner, and clearly set the parameters.— 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.— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
Under Mr. Choi's leadership, S5 restored many of the core values of the original show, and most offensive "jokes" were removed. To give you an idea of what we are talking about, here is one scene from the original S5 drafted under Mr. White's leadership.— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
The cast received drafts of all S5 scripts in advance of shooting BECAUSE of Covid, at which time we discovered storylines that were OVERTLY RACIST, and so extremely culturally inaccurate that the cast came together and expressed concerns collectively.— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
Ins Choi is Korean, created the show, and was in the writers room. There was no Asian Woman, no Korean writer in the room S1-S4. In S5 a young Korean woman was hired as a story editor, but never advanced to screen credit.— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) June 6, 2021
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