The abrupt ending of "Kim's Convenience" after season 5 despite being renewed for season 6 has also lifted the lid on the show's inner workings, and Jean Yoon is the latest star to speak openly about her negative experiences on the set.
The actress, who plays Mrs. Yong-mi Kim (Umma) on the CBC show, took to her Twitter account to defend her co-star Simu Liu (her on-screen son Jung) whose statement regarding the "overwhelmingly white" producers' decision to end the show has led to a row. Retweeting an article by John Doyle in "The Globe and Mail," that credited Liu's allegations as developing from fallout due to the show's end, Jean Yoon made it clear that the actor isn't the only one who had an issue with the lack of Korean talent in the writing team.
Confirming the claims made by Simu Liu, Yoon tweeted, "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."
Yoon revealed that a recent example of this was when the cast came together to express collective concerns about some "overtly racist" and "extremely culturally inaccurate" storylines in the fifth and final season, after the scripts were delivered to them in advance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Yoon wrote about one of the offensive jokes that were ultimately cut from the show, "Pastor Nina comes to the [store] to pick up Mrs. Kim for a Zumba class. Mrs. Kim is wearing NUDE shorts, and Pastor Nina is [too] embarrassed to tell her she looks naked from the waist down. Mr. Kim enters, and the joke is that if you're married you can say anything."
"No one, esp. Mrs. Kim, would be unaware that a garment makes her look naked. Unless she is suddenly cognitively impaired. Or STUPID. Stripping someone naked is the first act before public humiliation or rape. So what was so funny about that? At my request, [Ins] Choi cut [the] scene," she added.
Yoon also revealed that she had raised objections to her character Umma's multiple sclerosis diagnosis, noting that Koreans' chances of suffering from the illness are one in a million, but the producers dismissed her concerns telling her she "doesn't understand comedy."
According to Yoon, co-creator Ins Choi whose play inspired the show and who was the only Korean voice on the set, was increasingly missing from the filming, which was concealed from the cast. "He (Choi) created the TV show, but his co-creator Mr. Kevin White was the showrunner, and clearly set the parameters," Yoon claimed. She added that Choi's absence became a crisis between season 4 and season 5, following which the cast was told he would be resuming control of the show.
However, Choi left the show without any explanation, leading to the abrupt cancellation. His co-creator Kevin White meanwhile left the show to pursue another project, a spin-off titled "Stray" that will centre on the only regular white character in the show, Shannon (Nicole Powers).
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who played Appa in both Choi's play and the show, said the latter stopped contacting him after speaking with him about staying on the show. Lee said the series "died from within...No matter how good it can be, if you don't deal with issues from within and try to gloss it over because everything on the surface looks fantastic and idealistic, then you are just asking for trouble. I think that's the unfortunate lesson from this whole thing."