The creator and stars of the Netflix series Beef are finally addressing the resurfaced controversy surrounding David Choe after more than a week of social media backlash about his casting.
However, if fans were looking for an apology—or an explanation for their delayed response–they might be disappointed.
In a statement to Variety, Beef’s creator Lee Sung Jin and lead actors Steven Yeun and Ali Wong (who are also executive producers) call Choe’s 2014 remarks about rape “undeniably hurtful and extremely disturbing.” However, the trio claims the New York artist has “put in the work” to “better himself.”
“The story David Choe fabricated nine years ago is undeniably hurtful and extremely disturbing,” the statement says. “We do not condone this story in any way, and we understand why this has been so upsetting and triggering. 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.”
Following Beef’s premiere on April 6, viewers on Twitter rediscovered a disturbing clip from Choe’s now-defunct podcast DVDASA, in which he describes sexually assaulting a Black masseuse and brags about being a “successful rapist.” Choe garnered criticism for the episode when it originally aired almost a decade ago. At the time, the 46-year-old released a statement, claiming that he made up the incident. In 2017, he wrote another apology on Instagram.
Viewers began resharing the clip last week, as well as other upsetting comments from the New York graffiti artist. This past Sunday, writer Meecham Whitson Meriweather tweeted that Twitter locked his account after he posted the recording of Choe. Journalist Aura Bogado, who’s been continuously outspoken about Choe’s casting, posted a DMCA notice she received from Twitter after they removed her post “on copyright grounds.”
Despite Choe’s efforts to erase the podcast from the internet, complaints about his casting have only increased throughout the week. In addition to criticism aimed at Choe, Beef fans have expressed their disappointment in Wong and Yeun, who have been noticeably silent about the scandal. This week, users noticed that Wong locked her Twitter account.
Likewise, Wong and Yeun’s surprisingly terse statement on the matter—which, again, lacks an apology—is not being received well.
“Steven Yeun, Ali Wong & Lee Sung Jin can go to hell for this crappy statement about David Choe,” tweeted Total Gab founder Sha Hartley. “It’s also interesting how Ali said these types of jokes shouldn’t fly, but look at her now.”
“So basically they all KNEW about David Choe’s r*pe “story” & they STILL chose to support him anyway?,” wrote another user. “That David Choe joint statement should have stayed in their drafts,” opined another. “Their continued silence would have been a lot better than whatever that statement was.”
It’s hard to believe that this will be the last word on the Choe controversy, leading up this year’s Emmy nominations in July. Netflix submitted the series for awards consideration in the Anthology/Limited Series categories after it received tons of initial praise. However, the unfolding saga—plus, the new backlash from this disappointing statement—could throw a wrench in things.