By Matthew Sawczyn
There’s a conversation in the pilot of Kim’s Convenience between Mrs. Kim (affectionately called ‘Umma’) and her daughter Janet, a back and forth about why Janet is not married yet. It’s a familiar family scenario, made even more hilarious when Umma pulls the church directory out to show Janet all the available boys Umma’s found for her. But Janet objects. “There’s no such thing as a cool Christian Korean boy,” she laments. “They don’t exist!” And it is precisely this combination– cool, Christian, Korean– that this Canadian show on Netflix nails to a tee.
Set in Toronto, the show centers around the Korean Canadian Kim family, and their family-run convenience store. Mr. Kim (known as ‘Appa’) runs the store, aided by Umma, and Janet. Estranged son Jung works at a nearby car rental agency; the healing of this mysterious break between Jung and Appa constitutes a subplot for much of the first season. Otherwise, the show centers around the quieter moments of running the family store, and the comical interactions between family members. A gathering place for the community, the convenience store serves as a playground for realistic but ridiculous scenarios. It came as no surprise to learn that show creator Ins Choi had previously worked on “Corner Gas”; like that Canadian classic, the ability to find humor in the everyday really brings Kim’s Convenience to life.
Boisterous but lovable Appa does his best to keep the store afloat, always available to offer fatherly wisdom from behind his tilted glasses and ever present coffee mug, while wise Umma fights to keep the family close, selflessly sacrificing herself for her husband and children. Janet and Jung, second generation Korean-Canadians, work to bridge the gap between the two cultures they’ve grown up in, facing the authentic challenges of balancing and harmonizing the two worlds. But, as in all stories about family, the themes are universal. I think I remember having this exact conversation with my own dad.
The family is also Christian, an identity that’s a normal, integral part of their lives. Their wholesome, heartwarming relationships demonstrate a family that’s really trying its best. The Kim family is full of real, everyday love, even the joyously messy kind. Their wholesome, heartwarming example shines as a refreshing reminder to live the daily Gospel, no matter if at a church gathering or in a convenience store.
A lesser known gem on Netflix, Kim’s Convenience is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. It’s sharply written, endearingly funny, and a celebration of Korean culture. The show is set to move into its fifth season, so there are plenty of episodes already available to dive into! Do yourself a favor and step into Kim’s Convenience, where you’ll find a family that’s truly cool, Christian, and Korean.
Editor’s Note for Parents: Kim’s Convenience is rated TV-MA, primarily for language and some innuendos.
About the Author
Matthew Sawczyn is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, and an alumnus of JPCatholic (MBA in Film Producing – Class of 2017). He loves hiking, HBO, and cuddly cats.
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