Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Jennifer Kim: Kim’s Convenience

By | Published on Sunday 7 January 2024

You may well be aware of ‘Kim’s Convenience’, the award winning hit comedy by Ins Choi, first staged over a decade ago in Canada and which formed the basis of five series of the Canadian TV show of the same name. 

The play made its debut back in 2011 at the Toronto Fringe and is about a family run Korean convenience store in Toronto. This new production – like the original run – sees its writer joining the cast, while fellow 2011 cast member Esther Jun takes up the role of director in 2024. 

I was interested to find out more about the play, and the cast and the creative team, so I had a chat with performer Jennifer Kim, who plays Janet. 

CM: Can you start by telling us what ‘Kim’s Convenience’ is all about? Whose story does it tell and where does the narrative take us?
JK: ‘Kim’s Convenience’ is a wonderfully funny and heartfelt comedy about Mr Kim, who owns a convenience store in Toronto, Canada.

The play is set on one day and takes the audience through this not-so typical day for Mr Kim and his family.

CM: What themes are explored through the play?
JK: Love, belonging, family, identity and different generational perspectives are explored throughout the play.

CM: Can you tell us about the part you play and why you were attracted to playing this role?
JK: I play Janet in the play. The role was actually originated by our director Esther back in 2011. I resonate with so much of Janet’s story, because my immigrant parents also had a small family business, and I was Janet.

I catch myself in rehearsals thinking through some of the big ideas of the play and drawing from my experiences and relationship with my own parents.

CM: This play was first staged in 2011 and spawned five seasons of the Canadian sitcom of the same name. Have you watched the TV show? What’s the impetus for staging the play now?
JK: I watched the TV series with my mom during the pandemic. We’ve had some great moments together as a family simply watching the show.

I find the play and the show quite accessible and universal because the heart of the play centres around family. And everyone needs a good comedy show at the start of the year in London to fight those January blues!

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the playwright and his involvement with the production?
JK: Ins – who wrote the original, award-winning play and was involved in the TV series – is back to play the role of the father for this production.

For the original production, Ins played the son, Jung. But in a wonderful full-circle moment he has been able to grow into and play the role of Mr Kim.

He’s just as amazing as a performer as he is as a writer. I’ve learned so much working with him already.

CM: Can you tell us about the rest of the cast?
JK: I work with Namju Go, Miles Mitchell and Brian Law, and they are absolute gems. They are veteran actors with impressive credits and I’m so grateful to be a part of the company.

The rehearsal room is always full of laughter and snacks! We have a lot of fun. And Namju has really become our mom for the production, because she takes pity on our sad lunches and will sometimes bring in lunches for everyone to sit around the table and enjoy together. 

CM: And now can you tell us more about yourself? How did you come to be working in the arts? Was this what you always wanted to do?
JK: I feel like I am the rookie of the production because I recently graduated from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and am only starting to build my career here in London.

I was doing drama when I was a teenager, but I decided to go into the sciences for university, because adults around me told me I can do this as a hobby. But in the middle of that, I realised this is what I wanted to do for my life and nothing else. I am truly living my dream. 

CM: What have been the highlights of your working life thus far?
JK: For me, the highlights are not necessarily about finding work and landing jobs. I have learned that my working life very much involves building relationships – with my agents, fellow actors, directors, creatives, casting directors and audience members, etc.

I have been enjoying building those relationships. It’s a true joy and a privilege to have met and worked with so many good people. This production and its cast and creatives being among them. 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
JK: I’d love to continue to build my career here in London – theatre, TV and film! I absolutely love new writing and am always going to theatres that welcome and champion new voices. It would be amazing to be able to do a new play somewhere like the Royal Court.

And I’d love to be able to break into the world of TV and film. Fingers crossed! I myself am quite a physical person, so I would love to play a multi-dimensional character in a series that involves some serious sword fighting or unarmed combat.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
JK: To be honest, I am focused on finishing ‘Kim’s Convenience’ at the moment. I think it’s a story that will speak to a lot of people and I want to do the play justice. And once I finish this production, I will be able to plan my next steps. One day at a time!

Kim’s Convenience is on at Park Theatre from 8 Jan-10 Feb. For more information and to book tickets, head to the venue website here


Photo: Shona Louise Photography