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Kim's Convenience's Jean Yoon says gender equality got worse on show over time

·3 min read
Photo credit: GP Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: GP Images - Getty Images

Kim's Convenience star Jean Yoon has opened up about the lack of gender equality that took place on the show.

The Netflix and CBC series recently aired its fifth and final season, and Yoon has been among the stars calling the show out for its lack of East Asian representation, which she addressed in number of Twitter posts last month.

In one of the tweets, Yoon explained that the "lack of" diversity in the writer's room made it "very difficult" to work on Kim's Convenience,

Speaking to NBC News, Yoon has now shared more details about the problems with the production, saying that the cast "urgently" wanted a Korean female writer to help build the show's story and scripts.

Photo credit: CBC
Photo credit: CBC

Related: Marvel star Simu Liu addresses Kim's Convenience critique by saying he never meant to "call anyone out"

Yoon said: "We wanted a Korean female writer urgently. That's important, because the maxim is 'write what you know.' But gender parity had eroded by Seasons 4 and 5, and we never got to 50-50 with BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of colour] parity. Where I felt a female voice was lacking most was in Janet's arc and in her interactions with Umma.

"Since the end of Season 1, all of us have been requesting to meet with writers. That never happened. For whatever reason, they didn't engage with the cast. We wouldn't even get the scripts until a week and a half before principal shooting. It was as if the Asian actors were somehow going to interfere with the genius of the writing room.

"I thought there would be opportunities for the cast to direct and write some episodes. We all have writing experience. I'm formerly a playwright. We would have jumped at the chance to direct and write. But those opportunities never opened up."

Photo credit: CBC
Photo credit: CBC

Related: Kim's Convenience star defends spin-off following show's cancellation

Yoon further reflected on what the entertainment industry can learn from Kim's Convenience in terms of diversity, explaining: "The big lesson for me is that you cannot do a show about a minority experience, have it run by a white person and expect it to be OK.

"Sometimes the white mainstream thinks when we ask for equity, we just want the jobs. But this affects the intrinsic moral values of the work we do. A lack of respect for a culture manifests as systemic racism."

She also spoke on how she would have liked the show to address the bigotry and violence that diasporic Asians face, notably after the Atlanta spa shootings in March.

Photo credit: GP Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: GP Images - Getty Images

"I feel personally sad at the missed opportunities to share with our audiences what anti-Asian racism looks and feels like and the impact that it has on us," Yoon said.

"Here in Canada, racism is largely understood in terms of exclusion and minimization as opposed to overt attacks. But systemic racism is very pervasive.

"I would have loved to see Appa and Umma as heroes in some anti-Asian storyline that taps into the way our parents found humane, assertive responses to racism."

Digital Spy has reached out to Kim's Convenience regarding Yoon's latest comments.

Kim's Convenience is available to watch on Netflix in the UK and US.

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