Comedy·OK, SEE YOU!

What Kim's Convenience means to me

We posed this question on the Kim's Twitter account, and the response from fans was overwhelming.

We posed this question on the Kim's Twitter account, and the response from fans was overwhelming.

(CBC)

What does Kim's Convenience mean to you?

We had posed this question on the Kim's Convenience Twitter account, and the response from fans was overwhelming. And really, that was expected. However, what was less expected was seeing how people's experiences with this little show about a Korean-Canadian family mirrored some of my own.


My parents immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in the 1970s. We lived in Northwestern Ontario where there were very few Asians, let alone Filipinos. My parents built a life there, with my dad working as a mechanic and my mom going to school and eventually becoming a nurse. They raised their four children and provided us opportunities we might not have had otherwise. 

However, growing up in the 1980s on a steady diet of Canadian and American television and films, I never saw myself or my family represented on screen.

The worst part? I actually got used to that lack of representation.

Fast forward to 2016: Kim's Convenience premieres on the CBC.

I had just joined the CBC Scripted Digital team and one of my first assignments was working on Kim's Convenience, which was just finishing up its first season. Seeing the Kim family front and centre in a new sitcom from our Canadian public broadcaster was eye-opening for me. But to also be able to work alongside the show and promote it, and write about it, and just have fun with it, was a revelation.

Even though Korean traditions and customs are different from that of the Philippines, I was still able to recognize my mom and dad, or my tita and tito (which means "aunt" and "uncle" in Filipino) on screen. A story featuring Canadian immigrants, and children of immigrants, was finally being told.

And judging from the responses from other self-professed "Kimbits" hailing from all over the world, it was clear that having this show on a mainstream public broadcaster's primetime comedy line-up had a big impact.


It's about that family connection

Many Kimbits were drawn to Appa and Umma (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon) and how they interacted with their children, Jung and Janet (Simu Liu and Andrea Bang), who were much more modern in their upbringing.

Viewers related to the dynamics between these characters, from Umma wanting what she thinks is best for Janet, to the fractured father-son relationship between Appa and Jung:

(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)

And then there is just the central theme of family being, well… family. So many fans felt comfort spending time with the Kims:

(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)


Feeling seen and heard

I'm not Korean, so I can't speak to the accuracy of the show's portrayal of Korean families, but judging by what Korean fans have had to say, the depiction appears spot on. The show was, after all, inspired by the play from creator Ins Choi's own family, who grew up living above his uncle's convenience store.

What I can say, and what many other Kimbits have expressed, is that the Kims' story is not exclusive to just the Kim family. It resonates with immigrants and children of immigrants alike.

(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)


What Kim's Convenience means to me

So what does Kim's Convenience mean to me?

It means family comes in all shapes and sizes.

It means we are united in our diversity.

And it means there is an appetite for stories that have not yet been given the mainstream platform to reach a wider audience. Kim's Convenience has opened the door for people to tell even more stories, from different backgrounds and with different voices. It started as a play and evolved into a worldwide hit that is celebrated by so many people. So, keep those stories coming. An audience is waiting to hear them.

Ok, see you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Villagracia is a writer and producer who is no stranger to the digital landscape, having navigated the ever-evolving content and video streaming arena for 15 years. She has led the charge in creating engaging and compelling content that continues to push the envelope of innovation and storytelling. She also loves to bake and uses movie quotes to express real human emotions.

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