Kim’s Convenience exposed for racism by cast members

By Tribute on June 9, 2021 | 36 Comments

Cast of Kim's Convenience. Courtesy CBCKim’s Convenience was recently exposed for racism in its fifth and final season. A show about a Korean-Canadian immigrant family in Toronto, it was originally praised for representing the experiences of Asian Canadians.

This week, two leading actors on Kim’s Convenience took to social media to expose the overt racism happening in the writing room. Simu Liu, who plays the store owner’s son, said that the producers and writers of the show were “overwhelmingly white.” What’s worse is that they wrote their whiteness into a series that was revered for showcasing the Asian experience in Canada.

The fifth season of Kim’s Convenience recently premiered on Netflix. Jean Yoon, who plays Umma, described the scripts for the final season as “overtly racist.” She also tweeted that, “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.”

Simu Liu, who will next star in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, wrote in a lengthy Facebook post that he was growing increasingly frustrated with how his character was being portrayed.

“It was always my understanding that the lead actors were the stewards of character, and would grow to have more creative insight as the show went on,” Liu wrote. “This was not the case on our show, which was doubly confusing because our producers were overwhelmingly white and we were a cast of Asian Canadians who had a plethora of lived experiences to draw from and offer to writers,” he continued.

Liu also revealed that his pay for working on Kim’s Convenience was “horsepoop.” Despite the show’s sky-high ratings, the actors were being paid little in comparison to Canadian sitcoms like Schitt’s Creek. Liu chalked it up to the cast having zero leverage, no brand-name talent, and no American agents.

Kim’s Convenience was co-created by Ins Choi, a Korean-Canadian, and Kevin White, who is Caucasian. White is the showrunner for Kim’s Convenience and Yoon noted that he set the tone in the workplace. She also made a connection between Choi’s absence from the writing room and overt racism appearing in the season five scripts.

“Between S4 and S5, this FACT became a crisis, and in S5 we were told Mr. Choi was resuming control of the show,” Yoon said in a tweet, adding: “Under Mr. Choi’s leadership, S5 restored many of the core values of the original show, and most offensive “jokes” were removed.”

But even with Choi’s return, not everyone was pleased.

“I do not think he did enough to be a champion for those [our] voices,” Liu said, referring to Choi. “I remain fixated on the missed opportunities to show Asian characters with real depth and the ability to grow and evolve.” ~Cassandra Coleman

Comments & Discussion

  1. R • June 10, 2021 @ 9:37 AM

    “What’s worse is that they wrote their whiteness into a series”
    Can you be more RACIST than this?
    I’m not white, but I am fed up of seeing people denigrating the white people for the color of their skin.
    Stop this madness!

  2. R • June 10, 2021 @ 9:37 AM

    “What’s worse is that they wrote their whiteness into a series”
    Can you be more RACIST than this comment?
    I’m not white, but I am fed up of seeing people denigrating the white people for the color of their skin.
    Stop this madness!

  3. Peter Riddell • June 10, 2021 @ 9:50 AM

    Hey guys you’re free to do your own show.
    Step up.

  4. Julie LFlamme • June 10, 2021 @ 9:52 AM

    If they were so offended, maybe they should have quit, and made their own show to represent their vision of what they felt was their story.. As far as the salaries being lower- they’re probably still making way more than a lot of people- of any colour. And in Korea. Never watched the show, and I don’t know anyone who has. Seems like another boring, politically correct, stiffly acted Canadian show with nothing to engage the mind or make it interesting in the first place. Just the title screams dull snooze fest. , So perhaps if they had a hit series ( other than in the CBC fantasy world) maybe the salaries would have reflected the ad revenue. It’s a very small market of people this show would appeal to.

  5. Murr • June 10, 2021 @ 9:54 AM

    ThankYou to ‘R’ for your comment at 09:37AM…very sound!
    Yes! Mr. Liu took a show that I was quite fond of, and looking forward to viewing, and ruined it for me, and likely many others! It seems that some, must turn everything into a ‘race’ issue, and in that, Kim’s Convenience leaves a very bad taste, and I shan’t be watching again!
    There is so much hatred, and intolerance here just now! No more of it…am done!!!
    It truly is no surprise to me, that folks are turning to ‘classic-tv&movies’ by the thousands, every single day! to escape the political, and racially motivated nonsense!

  6. Bony Hurdle • June 10, 2021 @ 10:23 AM

    “Two leading actors took to social media…”
    Wow, that’s something you don’t hear every day.

  7. Doris Winfield • June 10, 2021 @ 10:24 AM

    I really liked and thought it was a funny show , now you just ruined it for me by playing the Race card I agree with R and Murr .

  8. Redrover8 • June 10, 2021 @ 10:31 AM

    Yup I’m tired of this crap – They are being racist for saying that And implying that because they’re Asian they get less money – maybe they did get scale and scale is a whole lot more than most people get paid – and I’m sure the people of other colours on that show all got paid scale too – But that is also up to their agents And if they don’t like the Scripts leave Or work on getting them changed – I didn’t watch Kim convenience the first three years because I assumed it was a boring Canadian show – when I discovered it I loved it (Although for me one or two of the episodes in season five did not ring true) Such a shame that it had to end but if the actors are hating it it comes out in their performance

  9. Jack • June 10, 2021 @ 10:33 AM

    “This person is White, therefore they do not understand how to write non-White characters” is an interesting take, since I doubt the producer was really some Anti-Asian bigot if he co-created a family sitcom about Asian Canadians with positive portrayals (something that actually was criticized as the show being too safe) with an Asian Canadian. The cast would know more than I do, but it does read like someone’s bitter they or their friends weren’t hired for a job. Usually biting the hand that feeds you over a perceived (versus undeniably actual) fault is a recipe for disaster, but we live in an interesting time, so the producer will likely be blacklisted by the CBC and either has to make Hallmark movies, or change careers.

    Comparing their pay to the Schitt’s Creek cast is silly. That’s a show anchored by two of the best-known comedians to come from this country, that had racked up a bunch of sales to foreign broadcasters/streaming services on day-1. A better comparison to their wages would be what other CBC shows with lesser-known casts were doing. Were the cast of Kim’s Convenience paid any more or less than say, the cast of Working Moms? Was that disproportionately any better or worse compared to the two shows’ ratings? If the answer to that is “they weren’t paid any less compared to equally known talent on similarly known shows” then … welcome to Canadian television?

    I do think it’s hilarious that both the breakout Asian Canadian and Asian American family sitcoms of the 2010s had behind the scenes bickering. Fresh Off the Boat had Constance Wu’s infamous, “I’m a movie star, why am I still working on this show?” reaction to its final renewal.

  10. Jen • June 10, 2021 @ 10:56 AM

    Reading these comments makes me hopeful… we’re not completely lost yet <3

    Such racist garbage. You're an actor, portraying a role, written by other people. Like it? Good. Don't? Move on… but shut up about "they're racist because whiteness."

  11. Christina • June 10, 2021 @ 10:59 AM

    The comments are hilarious and a significant representation of the ignorance of Canadians who are so fully opposed to acknowledging the colonialist and oppressive nature of mainstream Canadian society. Why do Canadians feel like they have to defend white privilege so strongly?! Why can’t Canadians just acknowledge that this happens and that we can change it by changing the colonial controlling world view? Your privilege is showing. Open your mind.

  12. Nora Dolan • June 10, 2021 @ 11:11 AM

    The cast members of Schitt’s Creek were already seasoned, accomplished actors. That’s why they were paid more. Sick of this garbage, only whites are racist, etc. Whine, whinge, and do nothing.

  13. Lorena S • June 10, 2021 @ 11:20 AM

    Funny how nothing was said before the show ended. I loved that show and all the actors. I never thought that the show was anything but funny and entertaining. Now it’s ruined for me. I don’t believe any of the things they said…..if it was true – why was nothing said earlier? Complaining about your paychecks???…really?…. you could have negotiated like the rest of us do when we want a raise….. but now it’s all about racism. Please give me a break.

  14. Anita V • June 10, 2021 @ 11:51 AM

    Love the show. Great acting and fun story lines relevant to many cultures – touching, funny and moving. Catching it on the reruns. So tired of all the political correctness and division. Just enjoy the show.

  15. A Wong • June 10, 2021 @ 11:52 AM

    My god, the number of racist trolls in this comment section who have no clue about or interest in how the industry works or what our lives are like as racialized people who are thirsting for accurate and honest representations of our experiences in a society where people like YOU constantly take the reductive and simplistic stereotypes they consume in the media and perpetuate them to our faces in our day-to-day existence without thinking or caring about their impact on us is mind boggling, especially in this day and age. It’s astonishing how much WILLFUL ignorance is out there. It’s no wonder people like Trump are still so popular and Q-Anon exists with people like YOU exposing your two-dimensional thought processes and inability to reflect on your own privilege and power in public fora such as these. All your comments do is prove the points that Liu and Yoon are making. You really need to get your heads out of your Eurocentric butts and actually interact with your non-White neighbours in a meaningful and empathetic way, since it’s pretty evident from your comments that none of you actually do that.

  16. K • June 10, 2021 @ 12:04 PM

    They auditioned for the roles. Nobody twisted their arms. They could’ve left the show.
    On another note I’ll bet they made more per episode then most Canadians make in a year.
    No doubt being the final season … now they speak out cause they have nothing to lose as the shows ending.
    Referring to their own comments they’re just as guilty for fascism.
    People …we are a people. I am a person. Who cares what colour my skin is or what part of the world I originate from, etc… I am a person living on planet Earth in a galaxy… in a Universe.
    How small we should feel against the big picture.

  17. Sharon Gordon • June 10, 2021 @ 12:45 PM

    I really enjoyed the show. I just wonder why it took the actors until the show was cancelled to publicly voice their concerns. If they weren’t happy why didn’t they just quit. They could have banded together to voice their concerns earlier on but I bet they liked getting their “paltry” pay cheques. I hadn’t heard of any of the actors prior to show so comparing themselves to Schitt’s Creek whose actors were all well known is a joke,

  18. Jake • June 10, 2021 @ 1:23 PM

    I have literally zero sympathy for this. Struggling actors would’ve killed to have had a series. If they hated so much they easily could have left. But they didn’t. So ya, this is just another worker complaining about the workplace but will gladly take the money…even tho it’s was apparently “horse poop”…

  19. anon • June 10, 2021 @ 1:49 PM

    Maybe Asian people should stop hating each other so much and then maybe they can pull out the racist card.


    Chinese, Japanese and Koreans treat Filipinos like second class citizens and call them Jungle Asian

    Chinese hate Japanese and vice versa
    Koreans and Japanese hate each other
    Chinese people frown upon people with darker skin in China as workers in the farms are looked upon as lower class
    I could go on and on but my point is stop the hate and maybe people will stop hating you back!

  20. K • June 10, 2021 @ 2:49 PM

    Everything said in this article was completely fair. Sure, they auditioned for and accepted roles – with expectations that their lived experience would be taken into account, and knowing that Choi was in the writers room. Both of those factors changed. Sure, they could have left/ made their own show – except actors have contracts, and shows have to be picked up by a network etc. Sure, “nothing was said before the show ended” – again, contracts and other factors – if you’re mad at them for speaking out now, how much more would people have been upset had they spoken out earlier, even if they could have?

    To those who have compared this to biting the hand that feeds you – calling out inappropriate behavior, or simply commenting on your experience while working on a show, is not that. The actors were employed, not done a favour by the producers or the writers. They don’t owe them gratitude or silence.

    And I feel like people are really skipping over lines like “into a series that was revered for showcasing the Asian experience in Canada” and “we were a cast of Asian Canadians who had a plethora of lived experiences to draw from and offer to writers.” It is in fact a problem that their insights and experiences and feelings were overlooked, especially in a show where those were *the whole point*, and that offensive jokes were written instead. And pointing that out is not racist against white people, for the love…

  21. Carrol • June 10, 2021 @ 3:04 PM

    I totally agree with most of the comments here. As long as there are people such as those actors who do nothing but complain about their pay & having to work with white people or having to have white people in the production of their shows, racism will always be alive & well.
    And with all their bickering, I really hope that other directors & producers will take a good long look at them before considering them for any future rolls!!! I am SO, sick, sore & tired of them screaming racism at every turn — AND — that if anyone dares to post a WHITE LIVES MATTER sign, it is considered a hate crime!!! UNBELIEVABLE!! Well — guess what — white lives DO matter & I’m not in the least ashamed to say so!!! All can be proud of their race except whites these days — it’s time we whites stood up for ourselves & made some noise — A LOT OF NOISE!!! Most of today’s show writers & producers seem to think there is something wrong with whites dating their own race — every damn show now has a white paired up with a non-white for a partner!!! SICKENING!! And then — society wonders why there is so much racism around.
    Every time there is chit stirred about any issue, it does a 360° turn too far around the other way to the point of ridiculousness.

  22. Blair • June 10, 2021 @ 3:07 PM

    They weren’t paid “Schitt’s Creek” wages because they are NOT Schitt’s Creek… Which is FUNNY! Guess who also did not get Schitt’s Creek wages….”Corner Gas” (CTV)… Because it’s also NOT funny! Too bad they didn’t complain DURING production rather than AFTER it ended. I’m so tired of “Retroactive Racism”.

  23. Jay Liu • June 10, 2021 @ 3:26 PM

    Is it really shocking that white trash writers would portray Asians in a stereotypical, dimwitted manner? White folks have looked and talked down upon Asians for literally generations! It certainly doesn’t help that Asian females enable them to with their frequent #whiteworship behavior. As Asian people, we need to put our foot down and learn to say no, both verbally and physically if need be. No more getting abused and pushed around by B&W from 2020 onward. Good on you guys for taking this public!

  24. G Roberts • June 10, 2021 @ 4:43 PM




  25. Sam • June 10, 2021 @ 4:45 PM

    So now you are bothered by the writing?

    I really enjoyed this show. Looked forward to laughing at something that Mr. Kim did. He is a very loveable character that reminds me of some of the men in my own family.

    The actors are the racists and being spiteful.

  26. Kris Coghlan • June 10, 2021 @ 5:27 PM

    If you thought you weren’t getting paid enough and the writing was too ‘white’ why didn’t you just quit.

  27. CovidKid • June 10, 2021 @ 5:36 PM

    But wait! This show is from the “woke” CBC so how can this be !!

  28. Christina • June 10, 2021 @ 11:28 PM

    Wow! Really?! Ok. KKKanadians abound on this post. Ok KKKarrol!

  29. Kait • June 11, 2021 @ 11:37 AM

    Comments are terrifying. Minus Christina’s. The rest of you are bigots…
    And to those saying “why didn’t they complain while filming” umm have you heard of being under contract? Idiots.
    I suppose you are the same bunch that say “Why didn’t she come forward right after she was raped? Why did it take so long?”

    Look at your responses to a situation you know so little about. This is why people are hesitant to come forward with grievances. Because bigots like you lot attack and will defend your white pride at all costs.
    No need to say anymore. The intelligence is lacking in this comments section. Calling it racist to say someone “wrote their whiteness into the show” is ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense. Please look up the definition of racism.
    And this show received rave reviews so yes they did deserve good pay.

  30. Pat • June 11, 2021 @ 5:26 PM

    “Racism is not dead, but it is on life support — kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as ‘racist’.” – Thomas Sowell

  31. Du • June 12, 2021 @ 8:44 AM

    lmao so many old racists typing into the ether

  32. H • June 13, 2021 @ 11:38 PM

    All actors are Chinese, not Korean. And writing “whiteness” is extremely hypocritical.

  33. B • June 14, 2021 @ 9:56 AM

    The three leads are Korean. The son is Chinese descent, the friend is Vietnamese/Chinese. It would be cooler if all were Korean, but I guess they went with the best actors, which is actually great.

  34. Kay • June 14, 2021 @ 10:19 AM

    Canada is replete with racists who pretend they aren’t. This comment section is proof of that. [Especially you, Carrol. Your comments are fearfully telling!] And to cry reverse racism as an argument is laughable.

    Racism stems from fear of the unknown and ignorance…educate yourself, travel to places OUTSIDE your comfort zone, meet and talk to people who are DIFFERENT from yourself. You’ll find that we are more similar to each other than we are different. We are all the same species, for heaven’s sake. If we can love animals, why not each other?

  35. Kim • June 14, 2021 @ 12:56 PM

    Racism is a form of tribalism, and tribalism stems from many many years of evolution. It is branded into human nature. Show me a human being who claims to be non-racist and I’ll show you a liar.
    The current trend of embracing an identity of victimization, however, is a choice borne out of a counterfeit cultural imperative.

  36. Shane • December 30, 2021 @ 12:52 PM

    That’s pretty effing funny considering they wrote racial quotas for jobs right into the script including Mrs Kim asking about “diversity” and “less white people” very early on in the show, hence why I dropped it like the garbage it is

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