Support for LAist comes from
Made of L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

'Beef' Stars Defend David Choe Casting. Internet Reaction Is Not Great

Three Asian men and an Asian woman pose for a photo with their arms around each other.
(L-R) Steven Yeun, David Choe, Ali Wong and Lee Sung Jin attend Netflix's Los Angeles premiere "Beef" afterparty on March 30 in L.A.
(Charley Gallay
Getty Images for Netflix)
Our June member drive is live: protect this resource!
Right now, we need your help during our short June member drive to keep the local news you read here every day going. This has been a challenging year, but with your help, we can get one step closer to closing our budget gap. Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership.

More than a week ago, video footage of “Beef” actor David Choe talking about raping a woman was resurfaced online, sparking intense criticism of the decision to cast him in a key role. The controversy is now casting a long pall over a Netflix show that had won acclaim for its pitch-black comedy and deftly drawn Asian American characters.

Critics of Choe’s casting said the decision to use the artist in a Netflix show was insulting — especially to sexual assault survivors and Black women. (Choe had described the woman as “half Black, half white.”) After days of silence, the “Beef team” issued a statement Friday, initially to Vanity Fair.

About the statement

Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, the show’s stars and executive producers, along with show creator Lee Sung Jin, deplored the story Choe told in 2014 on his now-defunct podcast, DVDASA, about forcing oral sex on a massage therapist.

Support for LAist comes from

The trio also referred to Choe’s claim that he had made up the story — something he has said in statements that predate “Beef.”

“The story David Choe fabricated nine years ago is undeniably hurtful and extremely disturbing,” the “Beef” team wrote. “We do not condone this story in any way, and we understand why this has been so upsetting and triggering.”

In the statement, the “Beef” creators did not reveal when they knew about Choe’s rape comments but indicated they had witnessed his personal progress over an unspecified period of time.

“We're aware David has apologized in the past for making up this horrific story, and we've seen him put in the work to get the mental health support he needed over the last decade to better himself and learn from his mistakes.”

What Netflix says

LAist contacted Netflix about the trio’s statement. A representative for the streamer said the Vanity Fair article is accurate but would not comment further.

Initial online response to the statement was poor, with commenters expressing anger and disappointment with Wong and Yeun, whose well-received work and offbeat career choices have netted them large fan bases.

Support for LAist comes from

The backstory

Choe’s comments started making the rounds last Wednesday when journalist Aura Bogado tweeted excerpts of a 2014 BuzzFeed article that recounted Choe’s discussion of a sexual assault on the podcast he co-hosted with Asa Akira, who is an adult film actor.

The next day Bogado posted a video on Twitter in which Choe described himself as a “successful rapist.”

Twitter users, many of them Black and Asian American women, quickly condemned Choe’s comments as misogynistic and racist and questioned the judgment of the “Beef” team to expose the cast and crew to someone with Choe’s past.

Widespread plaudits about the show’s quality, which lauded the complex Asian American characters, morphed into debates over the worthiness of representation when it came at the expense of the most marginalized members of a community.

The reaction

Earlier this week, Nguyên Lê, a film writer, recounted online how the “Beef” team’s silence led him to give up a coveted interview with Vietnamese actress Hồng Đào, who plays the mother of Wong’s character on the show,

Lê said the statement was “disappointing.”

“This was a moment to be different and no one took it,” he wrote in a message. “Certain things the show preached and practiced, especially on the 'don’t let your bad impulses consume you' front the people involved did not apply.”

He said the statement only validated his decision to cancel the interview with Dao.

“I was honestly hurt when I couldn’t broadcast this achievement, but things have gotten to the point where there’s no avoiding the David Choe in the room when talking about 'Beef',” Lê said.

Choe’s comments drew even more attention after Bogado and fellow writer Meecham Whitson Meriweather said they had received Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices from Choe for tweeting video of the artist making comments about rape. Their tweets are no longer available.

Have a question about Southern California's Asian American communities?
Josie Huang reports on the intersection of being Asian and American and the impact of those growing communities in Southern California.

Most Read