Television

For these 8 fans around the world, Kim's Convenience is more than just a show

Fans from Pakistan to Puerto Rico reflect on the CBC show that changed their lives.

Kim’s Convenience connects families, captures hearts across the world

Falling in love with a TV show happens instantly. 

You grow attached to the characters, their flaws and relationships, as if they are your own. You learn valuable lessons that sometimes change the way you see yourself and the people around you.

It doesn't matter where you grew up or what language you speak, Kim's Convenience universally resonates. The show's fans, who have earned themselves the nickname "#KimBits", have very different stories and cultural backgrounds. From Pakistan to Singapore, fans share the same passion for a show that understands them. 

As Kim's returns for Season 4 on CBC TV and CBC Gem in Canada, we're spotlighting KimBits from around the world. 

Manchester, UK

Kim's Convenience was the first TV show we were able to just sit and enjoy together.- Adam Cobb, UK

Adam Cobb, originally from Scotland, says Kim's Convenience helped him bond with his long-distance Korean partner. 

"When you meet new people, you bond over the TV shows you watch. The problem with dating someone from a different background is not having some cultural tropes that are similar, but Kim's really finds things that people do share," says Cobb.

Cobb and his partner are dating "across cultural barriers," which means that when watching other shows together — whether British, American, or even Korean — they would often have to stop and explain the cultural, political background.

Cobb used to be proud of the fact he didn't binge-watch, then he finished two seasons of Kim's in a day and a half, and again when he visited his long-term Korean partner in Seoul. 

When they parted ways, they would schedule to watch Kim's at the same time every week: 10 a.m. in the United Kingdom, and 7 p.m. in Korea. 

"Each character is so relatable, and it's a show that crosses cultural divides. It's a very accessible sitcom. The style of comedy is very appealing. I often find American humour has a sledgehammer nature, but the tone of Canadian humour is more aligned with U.K. sense of humour. There isn't a laugh-track, and people aren't trying to out-quip each other."

Singapore 

Kim's is not just funny, it's heart-warming. I re-watch it the same way I keep re-watching classics like The Office. I need more episodes!- Safar Afreen Khan, Singapore.

Safar Afreen Khan knew that he absolutely loved Kim's Convenience from the first scene of the first episode, "Gay Discount". When Mr. Kim (Appa) asks customers, "If you is the gay, why can't you be quiet, respectful gay like Anderson Cooper?" 

"I found it hilarious." says Khan. "I knew Appa was obviously not homophobic. He's just a regular Asian uncle who is frustrated with millennials and noise. Appa is this grumpy old man who complains non-stop about the gay pride parade but also pauses to really listen to why an individual would cross-dress. There are so many layers to him."

"The way he does his best to be flexible even though he is a strict Asian patriarch can be very frustrating, but endearing and truthful," says Khan. 

In a family of Indian immigrants living in Singapore, Khan says he watched his dad tread these lines many times.

"I've done things or wanted things that didn't align with my Abbu's values, but much like Appa, he compromised or did his best to be flexible even when it was difficult for him," says Khan.

Watching Appa on screen reminds me that being an immigrant is not easy for my parents, and giving them a little time to catch up to my way of thinking and living would make life better for all of us.- Safar Afreen Khan, Singapore

"Although it is a show about a Korean family, it works universally. Family will always be family. There will be fights with parents, siblings will annoy you beyond your wildest imagination, you will dream of running away from home, but at the end of the day, there is so much love. You can screw up majorly but your Appa is going to love you and look at that cardboard cut-out of you with so much pride, you'd think you won the Nobel Prize."

Puerto Rico

I never thought, as a Puerto Rican living on the island, that I would see myself and my world so reflected in a show about a Korean-Canadian family.- Gabriela Ramos, Puerto Rico

When Gabriela Ramos, 22, watched the "Best Before" episode, she was hooked.

"Janet and Appa's relationship is very similar to my father and I. For some time, we would jokingly call my father 'Appa'." 

Ramos brought her family and friends on board to watch and enjoy Kim's

"I feel like all the characters in the show are people I have met or could have met in real life, and I love them all." says Ramos. "They're hilarious but still grounded. The humour is very clever without being tokenising. The show is so universal without sacrificing its authenticity and the multiculturalism of its characters."

Oahu, Hawai'i

Kammi Koza

Kammi Koza, 41, says she loves the show because it reflects a culture similar to hers in Hawai'i. 

"In Hawai'i, there's a high population of local Asians and Polynesians, so our culture and food are quite similar as mainland Asians."

Oxford, England

Dan first watched Kim's on an Air Canada flight to Vancouver. Having worked in South Korea for 11 years, it felt like a connection back to Korea. 
Dan on a trip to Toronto: "I wasn't even looking for the store, but hopped off the streetcar to see it."

"My first reaction was 'I know these people'. I feel like an insider, because I lived and worked with people like Mr. Kim."

For his birthday this year, his partner decorated their apartment like the Kim's Convenience shop, and gave him a script to the original Kim's Convenience play.

Dan's birthday present was a script to the original Kim’s Convenience play.
Dan's partner decorated his apartment like the Kim’s Convenience store.
 

One of Dan's favourite characters is Appa.

"He's showing his affection by making fun of Janet and a lot of people do that. But people also rally around when something happens. It's filled with moments like that. They do things wrong, and they forgive and move on." 

Lahore, Pakistan 

The story between Raj and Janet especially resonated with C. Yusuf Mumtaz, a 39-year-old medical device sales executive in Pakistan.

"I was in an arranged marriage and I regret it," says Mumtaz. "I can sympathize with Raj on family pressure. But can also say that's no excuse for how he treated Janet." 

"I ended up instantly disliking him after his first appearance; I believe I started the hashtag #ScrewRajMehta." 

Brisbane, Australia

Josh and his friend, Eunice: “We often talk about how similar the relationships of Jung and Janet with Appa and Umma closely mirror our relationships with our parents.”
Regardless of your cultural identity, you can relate to them. I love the family dynamics, the relationships that are built, broken, and rebuilt again.- Josh Paatan, Australia

Josh Paatan, 27, comes from a Filipino family, grew up in Singapore and has been in Australia for more than 15 years. Watching the relationships between Kim's characters helped him understand his parents' experience of having to adjust to a new way of life in a different country with their children. 

"A show that portrays an experience that is felt for many Diaspora families and families that have moved, specifically from underdeveloped to developed countries, is very important."

In the episode "Janet's Photos", Janet's photography professor tries to force her perspective of what Janet's life is like "through a very traumatic lens, portraying her parents as these people escaping from a depraved state to some kind of 'saving grace' that is Canada," says Paatan. 

"It is our story," says Paatan, "and as well-intentioned as it may seem for others to put their own lens on it, it may not be the full story. Seeing parenting styles conflict with each other gives me a chance to reflect and ask: were my parents really that strict with me? It helps me to know that it comes from a place of genuine love and care, but doesn't necessarily line up with the ideals of a 'developed' society'." 

In 2018, Paatan "clapped back" to a Slate article that questioned the show's representation of immigrant families, and published a response article on Medium.

"Having Kim's here in Australia is a great benefit because we get to see these perspectives. We may have different accents and cultural nuances, but at its core it's a story of family and how we interact with one another, and how do we resolve conflict with one another. That is a learning experience for everyone in that family unit. I just hope everyone can watch it."

Let us know what part of the world you're watching from by using the hashtag #OkSeeYouAroundTheWorld and #KimBits!