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October 3, 2016

“It’s my story”: actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee on being seen



After having his play, Kim’s Convenience rejected by every major theatre company in Toronto, writer Ins Choi remembers thinking “I just want to see it on stage once.”

Five years later, after enjoying hit run with Toronto’s Fringe Festival and the Soulpepper Theatre, Choi re-wrote the play into a TV show for the CBC premiering on October 11th.

The sitcom taps into the immigrant experience by following a Korean family, the Kims, who run a convenience store in Toronto.

“It’s my story. It’s my family’s story,” says the show’s star, comedian Paul Sun-Hyung Lee who plays Appa, the family patriarch.

For Lee, in many ways, the play and now the TV show were like a coming home. Growing up as a Korean-Canadian he would reject the Korean part of him in favour of assimilation. On the flip-side, “be more Asian” was the note he got most often as a young actor.

But with Appa, Lee doesn’t feel like he’s playing a stereotype, a first for him as an actor of colour.

In fact, something clicked after he read Kim’s Convenience for the first time.

“You don’t realize the affect it really has on you until you see something that truly represents you,” he tells guest host Candy Palmater in studio today.

WEB EXTRA | Meet the main characters of Kim’s Convenience in the videos below. The show premieres on the CBC on October 11th.