The creators of Netflix’s “Beef” have broken their silence amid controversy surrounding the casting of David Choe, whose comments from 2014 about self-proclaimed “rapey behavior” have resurfaced. He has since asserted the story was a fabrication.
Show creator Lee Sung Jin and executive producers Ali Wong and Steven Yeun released a joint statement to Vanity Fair, seemingly defending Choe while condemning his previous comments.
“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,” the three said in the statement published Friday. “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.”
Yeun and Wong have not responded to multiple requests for comment from NBC News. Netflix has not commented. A24, the studio that produced the show, has not responded to a request for comment.
The show began drawing backlash after clips that featured Choe telling a graphic story about a masseuse on his now-defunct podcast DVDASA resurfaced following the season premiere earlier this month. His comments have been criticized as describing rape and sexual assault.
Choe, best known for his work as a graffiti artist, has not responded to NBC News’ multiple requests for comment. After first drawing criticism for the podcast episode in 2014, he released a statement denying any truth to the story. Choe wrote that the podcast is “a complete extension of my art.
“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,” he wrote in the 2014 statement. Multiple news outlets reported on his response at the time, which was posted on the podcast’s now-defunct website.
When the incident came up again in 2017, Choe said in a statement that he “relayed a story simply for shock value.”
“Though I said those words, I did not commit those actions. It did not happen,” he said at the time.
Many have criticized the show’s decision to cast Choe, in addition to Yeun and Wong’s involvement in the process. Choe said on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast that the pair, who also star in the show, had presented him with the opportunity to be in the series. The show marked his first major foray into acting.
Additional discussions around Choe’s behavior continued after critical tweets, which included clips from the podcast, were removed from Twitter on Sunday after they were labeled with a “report from the copyright holder” notice.
An email obtained by NBC News, sent from Twitter and addressed to Meecham Whitson Meriweather — one of two social media users whose tweets were removed — listed Choe as the copyright holder and party who had requested the takedown.
Meriweather, a NYC-based culture writer, previously told NBC News that he was disappointed in the handling of the controversy. He added that the tweets’ removal is an example of silencing those condemning problematic behavior.
“I think there’s really only one way to go about it … which is to take accountability and then move forward without him,” Meriweather said. “The thing is that everyone knew. It was complicity. How do you really move forward with that when you are part of the problem?”