Parasite Actor Choi Woo-shik A Real Canadian

By Ben Hamill - February 13 2020
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Parasite Actor Choi Woo-shik A Real Canadian

A life of growing between two cultures and of having to face the multitude of challenges associated with immigration is daunting, to say the least. But at the same time, challenges are particularly useful when it comes to forming our identities as human beings. This is true irrespective of whatever difficulties we may face as a direct result of the theory of misplacement; in fact, it’s a truth that is also firmly rooted in those very same difficulties. Just ask Parasite star Choi Woo-shik, who lo and behold, grew up right here in Coquitlam, B.C.

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The actor who plays the role of Kim Ki-woo in Parasite, the production that practically dominated this year’s Oscars, lived an early life so quintessential Canadian that it’s nearly impossible not to want to reach out to him in a spirit of humble association.

Better Life, But Hard At Times

The actor immigrated to Canada with his parents at the vulnerable age of 10, after which all three became Canadian citizens. Their plight was that of seeking out a better life for their family, and as for Choi in particular, his was that of finding one’s place in a foreign society very much unlike the one at “home”.

The 29-year-old was in 2012 interviewed by Korean talk-show Star English. The talk-show purposefully interviews folks appearing on the show in English, even though English isn’t their native language. Choi during the interview shared intimate details about his life growing up in Canada and adapting to a lifestyle and language quite different to his lifestyle and language of birth. What becomes clear as the interview wears on is that despite Choi being completely fluent in English thanks to his Canadian upbringing, life in the Great North wasn’t always easy.

How Lunch Forged Friendships

Children face difficulties that can only be described as challenges of an alternative variety. Something as simple as lunch, for example, can easily turn into a deal-breaker to the mind of a child. Especially when “your lunch” is different to “their lunch”, as was obviously the case with Choi. Something completely natural in Korea was suddenly regarded as strange and unapproachable. And to Choi, a self-confessed conversational late-starter, lunch meant traditional rice and kimchi; and quite a bit of it too.

Initially known as the smelly kid because of his mother’s insistence that he continues his scholarly diet of kimchi and rice, Choi did eventually end up making friends – 14 of them, and all Korean! Things instantly looked up and from then on out, the group would eat their lunch at a self-designated “Asian table” where traditional food, often regarded by the Western world as “smelly” could be enjoyed in reasonable peace.

What Canada ultimately pulled on Choi was a royal flex-out. His character now flexed and toughened up, he was eventually all set on the road that ultimately to led to Parasite and Oscar-style fame and fortune. Hats off to Canadian adaptability and kimchi!

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