The Humor and Significance of “Kim’s Convenience”

Cover art by @amacxtnsn on Instagram

As a second-generation Korean who loves TV, Asian representation is really important to me. That’s why “Kim’s Convenience” holds such a special place in my heart.

“Kim’s Convenience” is a sitcom that portrays the experience of an Koreran family who owns a convenience store in Toronto, Canada. The show is centered around Kim’s interactions with their customers, community, and each other. The family consists of Mr. Kim (“Appa”), Mrs. Kim (“Umma”), their son Jung, and daughter Janet. 

I adore this show for the same reasons a lot of people do: the heart, the humor, and the relatability. It was virtually impossible for me to get through each episode without bursting out in laughter. Each episode contains a compelling storyline, introduces memorable characters, and captures so many shared experiences of Korean immigrants from religion to dating. What was done particularly well was how the Kim family relationships and dynamics were written. In Korean culture, family is everything, so I was amazed to see how well that translated throughout the show. 

Of course, “Kim’s Convenience” isn’t a perfect portrayal of the Korean immigrant experience. There were a couple times where I thought the use of stereotyping was overdone, but I commend this show for finally writing three-dimensional Asian characters. Paul Sun-Hung Lee, who played Appa, said it best in his acceptance speech for his 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Lead Actor: 

“I think a show like Kim’s Convenience has proved that representation matters, because when communities and people see themselves reflected up on the screens, it is an inspiring and a very powerful moment for them. Because it means they’ve moved from the margins into the forefront. It gives them a voice. It gives them hope.”

Overall, I love this show and consider it a step in the right direction toward representative stories in television. I was heartbroken when the announcement came a couple weeks ago that the show was cancelled, and I’m sure there were thousands of fans who were shocked as well. However, I have a feeling that the success of “Kim’s Convenience” will lead to more shows that tell overlooked narratives. 

The only way I know how to conclude this review is how Appa says goodbye to each of his customers: “Okay, see you”.

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