Wondering whether or not you’ll see your favorite Korean American faces on screen this season? Here’s a rundown of which of their shows got the green light—and which ones got the boot.
Sniff! Here are the shows that have been cancelled:
The Neighbors: The aliens are moving out of New Jersey. Tim Jo, who plays the extraterrestrial Reggie Jackson on the ABC comedy, will have has his last laugh as the show ends after its second season. In a KoreAm interview, he said, “There’s no doubt that the world is getting more accustomed to seeing minority faces on screen.” We doubt this funny man will stay off the screen for very long.
The Tomorrow People: With the foresight of their telepathic abilities, you’d think that The Tomorrow People saw this one coming. Unfortunately, the superhuman cast of the CW Network sci-fi series is being transported back to the future, including Korean American actor Aaron Yoo, who played Russell Kwon, one of the leading roles.
Community: The spunky Ken Jeong will see his last days as Ben Chang, the pesky, peculiar, and totally endearing character on NBC’s cult comedy, Community. While the threat of cancellation loomed over the show in previous seasons like a dark cloud, the network will finally lay down the ax after five seasons. Ken Jeong tweeted, “A most heartfelt THANK YOU to all the Community fans. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. My life is so blessed because you’re all in it. Chang The World.”
Believe: Jamie Chung’s days as Janice Channing on NBC’s drama Believe were cut short. The KA actress doesn’t seem too fazed, though. Receiving critical acclaim for her roles as Eden in the eponymous film and Mulan in ABC’s Once Upon a Time, Chung has a lot to believe in.
Growing Up Fisher: NBC’s American sitcom will be cancelled after its first season, despite the efforts of 13-year-old Lance Lim, who played Runyen. Three days before the show was cancelled, Lim posted on his Facebook page, “We really need all the viewers on this one so please please please watch tonights episode of Growing Up Fisher, again at 9:30 on NBC! 1 view really counts so even if you can’t watch it just turn the tv on at NBC! thanks guys!”
Intelligence: You’d think that any show starring the husky voice and the chiseled features of Josh Holloway would grace our screens forever. Sad to say, CBS will cancel the cyber-themed television series after only one season. Will Yun Lee had a recurring role.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. You can still catch your fave KA TV actors on these shows, which have been renewed.
Once Upon a Time: Who is this girl I see, staring straight back at me? Jamie Chung, that’s who. As mentioned above, Chung will continue her role as Mulan in ABC’s Once Upon a Time as the show moves forward with its fourth season.
Modern Family: There’s no way ABC will cancel a show that features the most adorable, spunkiest little girl on television. We’re talking about Aubrey Anderson Emmons, who plays Lily Tucker-Pritchett on Modern Family. Little known fact: Emmons is the daughter of South Korean adoptee and comedian Amy Anderson and radio host Kent Emmons.
The 100: Speaking of Korean adoptees, actor and fellow adoptee Christopher Larkin will continue his role as the endearing delinquent, Monty Green, on the CW Network’s The 100. When KoreAm spoke with Larkin before the show premiered, he spoke passionately about representing Asian Americans on screen while trying to avoid stereotypical Asian roles. We’re glad that Larkin still has the chance to show us what he’s made of
The Mentalist: Surprise—Tim Kang is back as Special Agent Kimball Cho in another season of The Mentalist. Despite a series of low ratings in the sixth season, the CBS drama made the cut. Kang tweeted, “Thank you, everyone, for all your support! Seriously, couldn’t have gotten a Season 7 without you. Looking forward to it!!”
Grey’s Anatomy: There’s no rest for the weary: wrapping up its tenth season, the cast of Grey’s Anatomy will move on to its 11th season. Operations will resume at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital but without one pivotal character: Sandra Oh. Read all about Oh’s decision to move on from her groundbreaking role as Dr. Cristina Yang in the latest issue of KoreAm. And see her before she scrubs in for the final time—Oh’s final episode airs tomorrow.
There’s also some fresh meat coming in on the ABC network—John Cho will play an arrogant, successful marketing expert in his new sitcom Selfie. Rex Lee, who starred in Entourage and in the recently cancelled show Suburgatory, will explore a new role as a high-strung, metrosexual publicist in an upcoming comedy, Young & Hungry.
And last but not least—and at last!—ABC filled one more slot with an unprecedented sitcom that focuses on an Asian American family. Based on food personality Eddie Huang’s memoir, Fresh Off the Boat will feature Hudson Yang, Randall Park, and Constance Wu.
BoA and Derek Hough star in Make Your Move. Image via High Top Releasing
by LORNA SOONHEE UMPHREY
K-pop fans get a chance to see their “Queen of Pop,” BoA, in a whole new light, as she makes her American feature film debut in Make Your Move, co-starring Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough.
Set in the underground dance clubs of New York, the film tells the story of star-crossed dancers Aya (played by BoA) and Donny (played by Hough), whose respective families are competing to see who has the most successful dance club in the Brooklyn scene. Their brothers (Aya’s brother is played by Korean American actor Will Yun Lee) also are former partners who had a testy falling-out, making the pairing of Aya and Donny a somewhat forbidden one.
The film’s writer and director Duane Adler (Step Up, Save The Last Dance) said that he wrote the role of Aya specifically for BoA. “I got introduced to her personally years ago through a Korean filmmaker friend of mine who said, ‘You make dance films, you need to know who this girl is.’ So when I started writing this movie, I wrote it with her in mind,” he said, during red carpet interviews at a March 31 screening at The Grove in Los Angeles.
So Adler sent over the script to the global K-pop star, and it didn’t take much convincing after that, according to BoA. “Ater I read it, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I could relate to the character,” said BoA, also at the L.A. screening.
And, once she knew that the choreographers for the film would be dancing veterans Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo (So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew), she jumped on board with the project. “They’re great, amazing choreographers, and I had wanted to work with them even before I started working on this project,” BoA said.
This being her first English-language feature film, the singer admitted it was a challenge to act in English. “It was pretty tough, but I think I did my best, and it was really great to work with Derek and Duane,” she said.
Hough, who said it was “great to work with BoA,” was the one on set who shared with some fellow cast members just how prominent a pop icon BoA is.
“When I got the role, I didn’t know who BoA was,” admitted Wesley Jonathan, who plays Hough’s foster brother in the film. “Then, one night we’re all in Derek’s room, and Derek puts her on YouTube. She’s amazing—her dancing, her music and everything.”
Notably, Make Your Move was scheduled to have an April 16 VIP premiere, but TV Report said that it was canceled because of the tragic South Korean ferry sinking, which occurred this week. BoA also reportedly has canceled other planned interviews for the film because of the incident, which has a nation in mourning.
Actor Will Yun Lee, a three-time KoreAm cover man, talks about some meaty roles he’s playing in film and life, the dream he’s still chasing and the gifts of fatherhood.
story by REBECCA U. CHO
photographs by YANN BEAN | styling JULIET VO | grooming SSONIA LEE for Exclusive Artists/La Mer
Hunched forward in a Sherman Oaks, Calif., dessert shop under a plain black cap that casts his face in a shadow, actor Will Yun Lee is exhausted, but insanely happy. Just five days before, Lee and his wife, Jennifer Birmingham, also an actor, became first-time parents to their son, Cash. That means bedtime for the new dad was 5 that morning. “I think guys shouldn’t even complain because I watch my wife, and it’s a nonstop 24-hour feeding process,” Lee says, his voice slightly hoarse and subdued on this bright June afternoon a day before his first Father’s Day as a father.
On top of his daddy duties, Lee is busy this summer promoting his latest action role as the main villain opposite Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine. Set in modern-day Japan, the film opens July 26 and features Lee as the Silver Samurai, also known as Kenuichio Harada, a Japanese mutant who, in the Marvel Comics on which the film is based, appears in samurai-like armor and has the ability to charge his sword to cut through almost anything. First introduced to many TV watchers in the TNT supernatural series Witchblade, Lee also was a series regular in the short-lived NBC show Bionic Woman, and appeared in a slew of high-profile films, such as the James Bond movie Die Another Day, Elektra and Total Recall. He has had a recurring role in CBS’s Hawaii Five-0.
At 42, the tanned, toned Korean American actor — previously named one of “The Sexiest Men Alive” and “50 Most Beautiful People” by People magazine — is in top physical form and fully capable of taking on the clawed Wolverine. (He demonstrated just how capable during KoreAm’s cover shoot at a Los Angeles area beach, where he performed some flying kicks.) This is in large part thanks to his lifelong dedication to taekwondo and a rigorous training regimen, which Lee captures in the YouTube documentary series The Training Diary of Will Yun Lee. “There’s something about sweating, bleeding, getting hit that forces you to look in the mirror,” Lee says in a voice-over to the three-part series, the first of which was released last year.
But more than a training diary, the documentary is a tribute to Lee’s father, a taekwondo grandmaster, who coached a highly successful all-African American fighting team called the Simbas in the Washington, D.C., area in the 1960s and ’70s. The latest segment, released in May, takes the actor full circle, as he connects the elder Lee’s legacy to his own pending fatherhood.
As we sit at Cakes by Rumy, a shop owned by one of the training partners featured in the documentary series and where Lee is a regular, the sleep-deprived actor talked about his first days as a dad, how the discipline he learned from his own father helped him persevere in Hollywood, and divulged just a little bit about his mysterious character in The Wolverine.
Congratulations on the birth of your son. What was it like seeing Cash being born?
Thank you! When people tell you that you have no idea what you’ll feel, it’s true. You can’t describe the feeling when you watch your son coming out. It’s pretty incredible. It was kind of numbing and beautiful. You’re crying, you’re tired. It was cool. Beautiful.
How did you and your wife come up with the name Cash Yun Lee?
My wife’s side is from the South. Louisiana. She told my parents, “You already got Yun and Lee, so give me Cash.” They didn’t understand. My parents probably learned “hello, thank you, cash, no check.” So they can’t understand why we named him “money.” (Laughs.)
Talking about your parents, you explore your father’s past as a taekwondo grandmaster in the YouTube documentary The Training Diary of Will Yun Lee. What led you to the project?
That series came about because a couple of friends were launching a web series thing, and they wanted to do an interview. I thought, this is a great opportunity also to explore my dad’s past because I always got pieces of it. He was a Korean immigrant, and he came to D.C. and trained one of the first all-black fighting teams in America. I knew pieces of the story and, over the course of the last 10 years, I’ve been piecing more and more together and meeting his old students.
What interested you about your father’s story and the Simbas, the martial arts team he coached?
What no one realizes is so much of the African American community really started this martial artsboom in America because a lot of the fighters in the ’70s and ’80s—a lot of the great fighters—were African American. And they were the ones going to the Bruce Lee movies, they were the ones going to the Jackie Chan movies, and they really helped propel our image of martial arts and the novelty ofmartial arts in America. I went to the 40-year reunion and I met my dad’s students, and they told me so many different stories. And I always thought this is the most interesting thing because growing up you see so many people, whether it’s the African American community or the Korean community, they have such a fear of each other or had a big fear of each other. I was like, what a beautiful story that this one Korean man and these African American kids literally bonded together and became a family. And they still teach in Korean, they still teach all over the United States.
You went to UC Berkeley on a taekwondo scholarship and post-college, you helped your father run three studios in the Bay Area. What led you to acting?
I lived in the taekwondo studio my entire life, from when I was 3. I started training really seriously from 13 on. And then I went to Berkeley and fought there. So it consumed most of my life. So I said I wanted to try something new. I wanted to be nervous again. I wanted to be excited for something.
Looking back, how do you feel about that training?
I think, once I finished a few movies and I started feeling a little bit more comfortable and I was able to pay the rent and turn on the lights, I really realized that everything that my dad taught me was the reason I made it to a certain point, and I was able to audition and was able to know what it’s like to have the discipline to try a new art. And if I didn’t have that, if he didn’t give me that, if he didn’t force it on me for the longest time, I probably would’ve quit a long time ago.
How has your career evolved as an Asian American actor?
I think, in terms of my career, I’m still chasing it. I’m still chasing to fulfill some of the things I want to do. Ironically, I think it’s backwards. I think a lot of actors say, “Gosh, I want to shoot guns, and I want to destroy the world in a movie!” For me the biggest accomplishment would be to do something likeFriday Night Lights or things where you actually just speak like you speak growing up. It’s hard.
Is there an ideal role you’re chasing?
What’s out there, as opposed to what we want, is so different. You hear a lot of criticisms. I’ll hear it from my parents first: “You’re always killing people. How come you never smile?” (Laughs.) At the end of the day, you have to turn on your lights.
Actually, as funny as it sounds, Torque (a 2004 biker action film) was one of those things that, while it wasn’t a box office success—what was really cool about that project was Joseph Kahn, [the film’s] Korean American director [said], “I just want you to be you.” And it went against so much of what I usually get, like I’m the head of a syndicate trying to kill everyone because I’m with an Asian government faction, that kind of, “Oh my gosh, how many people do I have to kill?” I think Torque was one of my ideal roles because I got to speak like I speak, there was a sense of humor to it, there was a sense of [Joseph] just letting me be me.
Are things improving for Asian American actors?
I do think so. It’s attributed to a lot of what the actors bring to the table, whether it’s John Cho or Sandra Oh or Daniel Dae Kim and Ken Jeong. I think I read an article where [Jeong] made $5 million off ofHangover III. That is beautiful, that’s an incredible thing to see, and I was so excited seeing somebody actually break the threshold. I’m so far behind all of them. But, at the end of the day, I do think it’s gotten better. But there obviously is a long way to go.
How did you feel when you heard you got the role of Silver Samurai in The Wolverine?
An actor always does feel like, “I don’t know if I’ll ever work again after the project that I’m in is finishing up.” I was relieved, and I was excited. I’m a huge fan of [director] James Mangold and a huge fan of Hugh Jackman and a huge fan of [actor] Hiroyuki Sanada. So I was definitely excited. And I hadn’t been in Australia (where most of the filming took place) before.
How did you prep for this role?
I would say one of the biggest prep things that came about, because I spoke so much Japanese [in the film], was I spent a lot of time with [co-star] Hiro [Sanada.]. I mean, that poor guy, he worked with me day and night on my Japanese. The hardest for me was the Japanese. I have spoken it before, but it was really bad. Hiroyuki was the nicest man. He’s just an awesome guy.
What was the filming experience like?
It was nice. I got to work with 87eleven again. They’re one of the biggest stunt teams in the business. And just watching Hugh Jackman work. He’s literally one of the nicest guys you’ll get to work with. He’s one of the only guys I’ve worked with who’s at that level, and 95 percent of the time, he’ll be in the tent with all the crew and cast members eating just like he’s everybody else. He’s one of the few guys at that level that makes you feel like you’re in an acting class, and you’re just doing a scene together. It’s that rapport of just making sure the scene was good, as opposed to the other things that come along with it. And James Mangold was probably one of the most passionate directors I’ve worked with, and he scared me every day. He’s so meticulous in what he wants.
What can you tell me about the Silver Samurai? The studio seems to be keeping his character under wraps.
I can’t say too much, except that I play a character name Harata and that he’s kind of this mysterious character, and he has complex ties with all the different characters. Different things will be released. And that’s one of the [reasons] I loved working with James Mangold. He didn’t take straightforward villains and straightforward heroes. He wanted to blur the lines. He keeps you guessing until the end of the movie.
Tomorrow is your first Father’s Day as a dad. Has being a parent changed your perspective on your life?
I think it just solidifies things. My perspective has always been the same—to provide for my family and keep doing what I love to do. But I think having Cash and watching him with my wife, it just solidified that I have to keep going and I have to provide. I think it just makes me stronger.
This article was published in the July 2013 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today!To purchase a single issue copy of the July issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).
When Ju Hong stepped before his class at UC Berkeley to discuss his status as an undocumented immigrant, the response was telling. “A lot of the students were surprised at seeing a yellow face,” says the soft-spoken 22-year-old, who notes there is a trend among many of his peers to equate undocumented with Hispanic.
A man attending a party is in critical condition after he was found at the bottom of pool.
Suffolk County Detectives say 21-year old Dale Ahn was attending a party at 3 Farmview Drive in Dix Hills when he discovered by two partygoers who pulled Ahn from the pool around 12:40 a.m. Sunday morning.
This is a nice business profile of a small banking software company in Austin, Tex. with a very worker-friendly environment.
A sign hanging in the game room of Banker’s Toolbox sums up the software maker’s workplace motto: Be Nice or Get Out.
The 11-year-old company, which moved to Austin from Los Angeles last year, has grown by emphasizing a close-knit, team-driven culture, said founder Daniel Cho. Every day, its 45 employees gather for a catered lunch in the cafeteria. Everyone gets an individual office. And when the company makes money, it is shared by all.
The result, Cho said, has been steady revenue and profit gains, without raising any money from outside investors.
“It’s simple — I believe happy employees will create happy customers,” Cho said. “We try really hard to make work fun, and we also believe in sharing what we earn.”
To call “Where the Road Meets the Sun” a juggling act would suggest that all the figurative balls stay in the air. But quite the opposite is true in this ambitious but scattered multi-character drama, which aspires to Altmanesque complexity and ends up merely addled. The bright young cast may end up giving Mun Chee Yong’s debut feature a level of posthumous celebrity, a la “Empire Records” (“Look who was in this movie!”), but its own lifespan will be comparatively short and sparsely attended.
Annual trips to Korea in my childhood gave me glimpses into the crowded streets of Seoul, where morning and night blend together and life thrives incessantly on the main streets of the city. I’ve seen the red tents that pop up in the early evening and stay up late into the night, under which steaming vats of street food are sold to tired students and drunk businessmen alike. If I think carefully, I can hear the way the roar of the trucks and the murmurs of sleepless youth meandering through the streets below slip through the window of my grandparents’ 30th floor apartment.
“Hero: The Musical” will be performed at Lincoln Center from Aug. 23 to Sept. 3.
“I want to wow the audiences in New York,” said Ho Jin Yun, producer and director.
The vehicle with which Yun hopes to dazzle ticket buyers is based on the story of a Korean martyr, An Chunggun, who fought Japanese annexation of Korea, killing a high-ranking Japanese official. He was executed in Japan in 1910.
“The subject is very heavy,” said Yun. “But it is a musical, after all, so it has humor and action as well. And Korean shows provide a bigger spectacle than Broadway does.”
Canadian restaurant holding group MTY Foods Group said it would acquire Korean Canadian restaurant chain Koryo Korean BBQ for $1.8 million, according to the Montreal Gazette. Koryo Korean operates 20 restaurants across Canada.
KAC national leaders gather in Dallas for 2011 KAC National Convention Miju Daily
Young Korean-American leaders from across the nation gathered in Dallas last week for the annual 2011 Korean American Coalition National Convention.
Korean American Actor Will Yun Lee Wins Best Ensemble Acting Award HanCinema
Being an Asian American in Hollywood is challenging, says Will Yun Lee who recently shared in the award for Best Ensemble Acting at this year’s Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival for the film Where the Road Meets the Sun. But it is getting better, Lee adds, and more opportunities are opening up every day.
The Japan Times published a Q&A with Crystal Kay, the biracial Korean American who just so happens to be a Japanese pop superstar.
Crystal Kay has been an exciting singer to watch mature in the music industry. Since her debut at 13 years old, this Yokohama native has wowed fans with her powerful vocals and a compelling personal story of being a mixed-race singer (Korean-American) in Japan.
On a completely different note is the AAIFF closing night feature Wedding Palace by Christine Yoo. This is the fictional story of Jason Kim (Brian Tee, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), a Korean American in L.A. whose family is cursed (the origins of which are shown in an imaginative hand-drawn/CGI animation blend), meaning that the 29-year-old must marry by his 30th birthday. A relationship with a long-term girlfriend doesn’t work out; neither do set-ups orchestrated by his meddling parents (in one fun scene, Jason and his parents are in a Dating Game-style show to assess potential brides). Eventually, a business trip to Seoul leads Jason to the seemingly perfect Na Young (Hye-jung Kang, Oldboy), but of course several wrenches are thrown in along the way to their budding relationship.
North and South Korea traded insults Thursday, a day after South Korea responded to what it determined was artillery fire from the North – the latest chapter in the tense relationship between the two countries.
Once again, experts are left scrambling for explanations of what it all means.
‘X-Men’ miniseries coming from Frank Cho digitalspy
Frank Cho has announced that he is writing and illustrating an X-Men miniseries.
The Liberty Meadows creator listed his upcoming projects for the next 12 months on his website Apes and Babes.
“I can’t say too much right now, but this miniseries will have three of the hottest women in the Marvel Universe,” said Cho of the title.
Korean Kiwi Lydia Ko, 14, advanced on Wednesday in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Championship with a win over Lauren Dobashi. Meanwhile, defending champion Danielle Kang of Southern California remained alive in her repeat bid.
It all started when Aimee Jachym returned to South Korea for a year-long volunteer program, having left her country of birth at just four months old.
Her year out soon turned into a vocation as the Korean-American adoptee founded the Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission to help orphans still living here to a better life.
Souvenirs from the World’s Most Dangerous Border Der Spiegel (Germany)
Given that North and South Korea are still technically at war, the wall between them is officially a cease-fire line. With its watchtowers and guns, the demilitarized zone is the world’s most dangerous border, no matter how popular it may be with tourists.
There is an increasing number of North Korean defectors who are opening North Korean restaurants and even a cooking school in their new home in South Korea. Check out our May 2011 story on a North Korean restaurant in Northern Virginia.
Korean students from top U.S. and Canadian universities have helped less fortunate young people here reach for their dreams this summer.
The newly established Teach for Korea has offered free tutoring and mentoring to economically disadvantaged students from four Seoul schools. Graduates and students from world-renowned U.S. institutions including Cornell, Columbia and Pennsylvania Universities are helping with the non-profit project.
The Frontline, one of Korea’s biggest blockbusters this year, depicts the bitter struggle between North and South to gain foothold of a hill at the tail-end of the 1950s civil war. Jang Hun’s (Rough Cut, Secret Reunion) even-handed direction and Park Sang-yeon’s traditional but finely-tuned screenplay instills the right measure of humanist anti-war sentiment and personal heroism, turning the fates of a small company of men confined to one hellish location into an expose of how impersonal military operations literally makes mountains out of molehills.
With all the online shopping in Korea these days, sometimes you miss some good old-fashioned haggling. That, and actually seeing what you’re buying.
The Small and Medium Business Administration and the Agency for Traditional Market Administration (ATMA) recently selected 50 must-visit traditional markets in Korea, based on criteria such as memorable food, colorful attractions and entertainment.
Surprisingly, only two on the list — Namdaemun Market and Dongdaemun Market — are located in Seoul.
Jian, a 42-year-old property developer in the booming southern metropolis of Shenzhen, had acquired just about everything men of his socioeconomic ilk covet: a Mercedes-Benz, a sprawling antique jade collection and a lavishly appointed duplex for his wife and daughter.
It was only natural then, he said, that two years ago he took up another costly pastime: a beguiling 20-year-old art major whose affections run him about $6,100 a month.