Kim’s Convenience: From Stage to Screen

Kim’s Convenience blew audiences out of the water at Toronto’s Fringe Festival nearly ten years ago. The play was not forgotten, and a few years later it was developed as a TV series for Canadian television. With one season under his belt, creator Ins Choi is currently working away at shooting a second season of the sitcom.

The series follows the Kim’s- a Korean family running a convenience store in downtown Toronto. The show is quintessentially Toronto, right down to the red streetcars and the landmarks only known to locals. Mr Kim, played brilliantly by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, is a strict father to his two children and a hardworking business owner. His curiosity can be mistaken for ignorance, but it only takes a few moments to realize he is a true sweetheart who just wants to understand the world he lives in. Jean Yoon, who plays Mrs. Kim, is always a scene stealer. She is hilarious and charming, and never gives up on finding a “cool, Christian, Korean boy” for her reluctant daughter, Janet.

Photo Source: cbc.ca

Apart from being funny, the show also explores a damaged father-son relationship. Mr. Kim and his son, Jung, are not on speaking terms. While evidently being a deep wound for the family, they still manage to keep us laughing when Mr. Kim somehow gets roped into fixing Jung’s toilet- only he doesn’t know it’s Jung’s apartment.

Choi stated that his mantra while writing is always “write what you know.” Choi arrived in Canada at the age of one and grew up in Toronto, living above his uncle’s store, Kim’s Grocery. Choi knows this world well and it shows. The show has a lot of heart. It’s not every day that a television show comes around and you can feel the love that the cast has for the show through your screen. Rightfully so, as Kim’s is Canadian television’s first all-Asian cast. The actors are so invested in the series because it’s what they have wanted to see on-screen their whole lives. Lee, who has been involved since day one, feels that “On one level it’s very heartening and it’s great that we are finally making these strides. On the other hand, it’s kind of frustrating that it took this long to get to this point.”

Alan Yang said it perfectly when he accepted his Emmy for Master of None:

“There’s 17 million Asian-Americans in the country, and there’s 17 million Italian-Americans. They have ‘The Godfather,’ ‘Goodfellas,’ ‘Rocky,’ ‘The Sopranos.’ We got Long Duk Dong.”

Kim’s Convenience airs its second season in the Fall of 2107. Not only is this great news because it’s a great show, but it’s a step forward for Asian visibility on-screen. With shows like Kim’s, Fresh off the Boat, The Mindy Project, and Master of None, there’s no doubt that there isn’t an audience for it.

Photo Source: cbc.ca
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