Steven Yeun, Ali Wong and ‘Beef’ Creator Say David Choe Has ‘Put in the Work’ Since ‘Fabricated’ Rape Story

The creator and stars of Netflix’s popular show “Beef” have responded to resurfaced criticism against cast member David Choe, who has recently come under fire for a 2014 podcast interview where he had joked about being a “successful rapist” during a massage.

On Friday, “Beef” creator Lee Sung Jin and executive producers and stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong released a statement to Variety, calling Choe’s story “undeniably hurtful and extremely disturbing” but that he’s “put in the work to get the mental health support he needed.”

“The story David Choe fabricated nine years ago is undeniably hurtful and extremely disturbing. 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,” they said.

In resurfaced clips of the 2014 “DVDASA” podcast episode, Choe told co-host Asa Akira a sexually explicit story about a massage he received from a massage therapist he calls Rose. “I’m getting turned on just telling this story,” he said in the footage. “I just take her hand and I put it on my dick. She just holds it there.”

Choe detailed numerous sexual acts and ended the story by saying, “The thrill of possibly going to jail, that’s what achieved the erection quest.” Akira replied, “Ew, you’re basically telling us that you’re a rapist now, and that the only way to get your dick really hard is rape.” Choe responded, “Yeah,” then answered other guests’ questions about Rose’s appearance. “What the fuck is wrong with you guys?” Akira asked. “Who cares what she looks like? Dave is telling us he’s a rapist.” He joked in response, “A successful rapist.”

Choe originally responded to the backlash in 2014, denying he was a rapist in a statement and saying that the podcast was “a complete extension of his art” as a storyteller.

“I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist. It sucks. Especially because I am not one. I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered,” he said at the time. “I am an artist and a storyteller and I view my show ‘DVDASA’ as a complete extension of my art. If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche. Just like many of my paintings are often misinterpreted, the same goes with my show. The main objective of all of my podcasts is to challenge and provoke my friends and the co-stars on the show. We fuck with each other, entertain ourselves and laugh at each other. It’s a dark, tasteless, completely irreverent show where we fuck with everyone listening, but mostly ourselves. We create stories and tell tales. It’s not a news show. It’s not a representation of my reality. It’s not the place to come for reliable information about me or my life. It’s my version of reality, it’s art that sometimes offends people. I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not! In a world full of horrible people, thank god for us.”

He doubled down on the apology and posted a statement in 2017, writing “I have zero history of sexual assault. I am deeply sorry for any hurt I’ve brought to anyone through my past words.” He also revealed he had went through three years of recovery and rehabilitation.

Clips of the “DVDASA” podcast resurfaced on Twitter last week, but some of them were removed with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices that were filed seemingly by Choe himself under the David Young Choe Foundation. The DMCA notices called the Twitter videos “copyright infringing media” and asked for their “immediate” removal.

“Beef” released on Netflix on April 6, after which it rose to No. 2 on Netflix’s Top 10 list of English-language shows. In its second week of release, it received over 70 million hours viewed. Opposite Yeun and Wong, Choe plays Isaac, the older, frequently-incarcerated cousin of Yeun’s character Danny. Choe, who is a painter and artist, supplied the artwork for nine episodes’ title cards.

Vanity Fair was first to report the “Beef” team’s statement.

Jazz Tangcay contributed to this report.

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