A Canadian sitcom about the Korean Canadian Kim family and their convenience store in downtown Toronto, based on the 2011 play of the same name by Ins Choi. The family consists of immigrant parents Mr. Kim (Appa, Korean for "Dad") and Mrs. Kim (Umma, Korean for "Mom"), independent-minded daughter Janet, and semi-estranged son Jung. Rounding out the cast are Jung's coworker and best friend Kimchee and his manager Shannon.
The first season, which began in October 2016, is an expanded adaptation of the play's storyline. The second season began airing in September 2017 and covered original material. A third season began in January 2019, and a fourth season started airing a year later. Previous seasons became available to many international audiences on Netflix starting in July 2018, and this was notably extended to Korean Netflix in September that same year.
Produced by CBC, it is one of the first Canadian sitcoms to feature Asian characters in most of the main roles.
Spoilers prior to Season 4 are unmarked.
This Show Provides Examples of:
- Abuse Mistake: Janet's professor thinks that she's being abused by her parents when she finds out that they flicked her as a child (and still do even though she's now an adult). Every time Janet tries to explain it as a cultural thing the professor thinks that she's just rationalizing it.
- Accidental Misnaming:
- In the opening scene of "The Handyman," Naya and Reshma (two Muslim women of the same age and height with veiled faces) come into the store and Appa greets them each by name. Another customer named Roger is curious about how Appa can tell them apart and Appa mentions a few subtle differences between them that he has come to notice. After Appa goes into the back to get something, the two women good-naturedly tell Roger that Appa gets their names wrong about 50 percent of the time but they appreciate that he tries.
- In "Business Award," Gerald tells Janet that one of their neighbors keeps calling him Ray.Gerald: I think I've let it go on for too long. I might just have to run with it now.
- Actually Pretty Funny:
- Mr. Kim is unimpressed when Kimchee starts laughing at the word "ballcock" (they were fixing the toilet) and sprays him. He then mutters the word to himself and laughs.
- Janet spends the majority of "Army Spoon" angsting over potentially offending a waitress with an innuendo-filled comment about wanting to see her box (she meant the box of tea). When finally confronted about it, the waitress reveals she found it pretty hilarious.
- Adapted Out
- Of the four characters played by the same actor in the play, only Jung's friend Alex is still in the show. Appa's friend Mr. Lee appears but is drastically different from the original (he is merely the husband of Mrs. Lee who is Mrs. Kim's friend), and Rich and Mike are nowhere to be seen.
- Jung is married with a child in the play, but he's single in the show so he can have a Love Interest going into Season 2. Justified as the TV adaptation is supposedly a prequel of the play, meaning his marriage and child will potentially still turn up in future seasons depending on the timeline.
- Age Lift: Janet is 20 and still in college on the show, while in the play she's 30 years old, already graduated and is working as a professional photographer. Jung meanwhile is aged 24-6 over the first two seasons but 32 in the play. Justified as while the TV series adapts stories directly from the play the timeline of the show itself takes place around 10 years before the play, making it sort of a prequel.
- Ambiguous Syntax: Appa misunderstands one of Enrique's exchanges due to the unclear grammar confusing him.Enrique: Did you know that plastic bags kill more sea turtles than sharks?Appa: You mean, uh, bag kill shark, or shark kill turtle?Enrique: Either way, it is a travesty, and it needs to be stopped.
- Analogy Backfire: When a white customer confuses Appa for Ken Watanabe (a Japanese actor when Appa is Korean), Appa asks how the customer would feel if someone gets his ethnicity wrong by calling him a Keyan. Turns out, the customer was born in Kenya.
- Artistic License Religion: Averted. Much like in the play, the Kims' Protestant faith is a large part of the story and so is accurately portrayed.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: Purposely done for Mr. and Mrs Kim, who immigrated from Korea to Canada as adults, and Nayoung, a relative visiting from Korea who eventually studies in Waterloo; their English is broken and accented, but done in a more realistic manner and not used for mockery. Mr. and Mrs. Kim are also prone to careless grammatical or spelling mistakes in their writing as a result. As Janet, Jung and Kimchee were all born and raised in Canada, their first language is English and so are fluent (although Janet once abuses this trope to pretend to be a foreigner and wriggle her way out of a security situation).
- Asian Store-Owner: Mr. Kim and Mrs. Kim are the Korean owners of the titular store, with Janet often helping out (although she's against the idea of inheriting the store from her father).
- Ask a Stupid Question...: A customer wants to buy a box of individual cereal packets, but Appa tells him they don't sell those.Customer: Okay. So you don't carry the little boxes?Appa: Yeah! We hiding ones you wanting unless you know secret password!
- Ass Shove: The Korean equivalent of the ass-shove prank, the dong chim, becomes a focus of an episode subplot when Jung decides to pull one on Kimchee while in the office as a joke. This comes back to haunt him when Kimchee decides to use it to make a sexual harassment complaint against him in retaliation for getting scolded at work.
- Awful Wedded Life: Although they otherwise have a fairly stable marriage, this is snarked about by Mr. and Mrs. Kim when talking to the recently-separated Frank about their marriage.Mr. Kim: Being married to Mrs. Kim is hardest thing I ever do. Very hardest. Harder than store. Harder than Korea army training.
Mrs. Kim: What's hard?
Mr. Kim: Nothing.
Frank: Being married.
Mrs. Kim: Yeah, very hard. Hardest thing I ever do.
Mr. Kim: That's what I say.
Mrs. Kim: Why you say that? You is not married to you.
Mr. Kim: You is not married to you.
Mr. and Mrs. Kim: (both turn to Frank) You see?
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Kims may have their squabbles, Mr. Kim towards his family in particular, but their love for one another usually becomes apparent especially in more urgent situations.
- Mr. Kim and Jung are mad at each other for their family drama years ago and so avoid one another, but it becomes clear they do still care and miss each other a little. After some small hints, the first big evidence of this comes up when Jung leaves his work event (and unofficial date with his manager) to go see Mr. Kim at the hospital after his surgery, and Mr. Kim (albeit drugged on meds) happily converses with him. Afterward they can occasionally bare to talk to one another, and Mr. Kim even becomes eager to exchange texts with him. Even after the two of them have another big argument in the Season 2 finale, Mr. Kim still happily puts the new family photo on display and the two sometimes hang out.
- Mr. Kim is often on the receiving end of What the Hell, Hero? speeches from Mrs. Kim and the two have disagreements about their children and store, but Mr. Kim usually tries to make it up to his wife in the end and they also often have heartfelt conversations about their love for each other.
- Mr. Kim often butts heads with Janet, but immediately gets on her (ex) boyfriend's case after they find out he got engaged to another girl without breaking their relationship off first, and he's genuinely hurt when Janet seems to be accusing him of being a bad father. Despite Janet's grievances about him, she's worried sick when he discovers his lump and has to have surgery. The two are also emotional when she tells him she plans to move out (although he knew already) and share a sincere hug, with Mr. Kim clearly bittersweet about his daughter leaving the house but respecting her independence as well.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: The misleading way Mrs. Kim delivers her "urgent" news regarding Janet's lack of love life nearly throws Jung off.Mrs. Kim: She is going to die—!
Jung: (looks very worried)
Mrs. Kim: ... Alone!
Jung: (sighs) Umma, Janet being single is not a crisis.
- Big Damn Reunion: In the season 2 finale, Appa and Jung finally reconcile and the whole family reunite at a party. Unfortunately, Appa and Jung end up fighting again and they both go their separate ways at the end. Relations between them do thaw during the season 3 premiere.
- Bittersweet Ending: The first two season finales end on a sweet yet also sombre note.
- In the Season 1 finale, Mr. Kim and Jung, while now on speaking terms, still get on each other's nerves and aren't ready to make up yet, and Shannon starts dating Alejandro just as Jung's realized his feelings for her. However, the Kims still give a heartwarming performance at the church singing contest (yes even Mr. Kim, albeit from the outside behind the door so no one can see him) and Mr. Kim gives his blessing to Janet to move out with her friends, establishing that the Kims are still very much a family despite their differences.
- In the Season 2 finale that just barely avoids being a Downer Ending, Mr. Kim and Jung properly reconcile but have another big argument just before the whole family reunite at the party celebrating Jung's GED; they all nevertheless take a family photo before the two men go their separate ways, but it doesn't stop Mr. and Mrs. Kim from proudly putting the photo up. Jung's chances of becoming a manager at a rival car rental company look good, only to come crashing down thanks to his delinquent past; and this comes after Shannon 1) tells him she can't be with him because of Alejandro, and 2) shows her disapproval about said job offer. It worsens when it's revealed Kimchee's taken Jung's assistant managing position, unaware he just got rejected. On a final good note, after spending the episode feeling unappreciated by her parents, Janet has a heart-to-heart talk with her mum and gets her graduation present from her dad (albeit the present that was meant for Jung, but she'll take it).
- Bland-Name Product: Many of the products on the shelves in the convenience store are real brands, but they are typically kept out of focus. When in focus the names used are usually parodies of real life brands, such as a customer shown holding a "Captain Raisins" cereal box (a take on "Captain Crunch" and "Raisin Bran").
- But Not Too Gay:
- In "Gay Discount" when Mr. Kim says he has no problems with gay people but doesn't like the Pride Parade because it's crowded and noisy.
- Appa hilariously inverts this later on in "Gay Discount" when he starts enforcing the aforementioned discount and refuses to give it to the gay and obviously effeminate regular customer Enrique because he apparently doesn't act gay enough, not even after bringing in a boyfriend to the store as proof.
- Terence is often the victim of actions by the other members of Handy Car Rental, Kimchee especially, and is treated with disdain.
- Gerald is usually the victim of Mr. Kim's hijinks or snarking whenever he's near him.
- Calling Parents by Their Name: One of the customers at the convenience store allows her son to call her by her name, so Mr. Kim gets confused and mistakes her for his babysitter when he sees the kid call her Paula. This sparks a conversation between him and Mr. Mehta about being respectful with how one refers to each other.
- Canada, Eh?: The show proudly shows Toronto as a backdrop, but otherwise goes out of its way to defy every Canadian stereotype. For one thing every episode through the first two seasons has taken place during hot summer weather. The show emphasizes that Canada is a very multicultural place, and that Toronto is a very cosmopolitan city. Finally you dont hear any ridiculous Canadian accents or constant talk about hockey and fishing.
- Cannot Keep a Secret: Multiple characters don't do a great job at staying hush with certain secrets, whether it be Pastor Nina repeatedly letting slip about Mrs. Park's marriage counselling or Mr. Kim's personal record of six hours without blabbing. This screws Mr. and Mrs. Kim over in "Blabber Talker" when they suspect their cleaner, Mrs. Ada, of blabbing their damaging private conversations to Mrs. Lee; they feed her false information to root her out, and it looks like she did spread the lie to other people. However at the end of the episode, it turns out Mr. and Mrs Kim themselves were responsible for blabbing: Mrs. Kim had told another friend about her "heart condition" and Mr. Kim had posted about his dislike of Mr. Lee on his Facebook wall, which he mistook as a private message to Mr. Chin.
- Character Exaggeration: Some traits of the Kim family are played up more in the transition from stage to screen, with Mrs. Kim and Janet in particular becoming more prone to Zany Schemes than their stage personas. This can likely be chalked up to Adaptation Expansion and the need to have more storylines.
- Christianity Is Catholic: The Kims' church appears to be Protestant, but they keep a statue of the Virgin Mary and Catholic candles in the store near their personal things. To be fair, about a quarter of Korean Canadians are Catholic, so maybe the show couldn't decide?
- Cold Open: Every episode in the first two seasons opens up with a scene, sometimes setting up the plot(s) for the episode and sometimes just done as a one-off gag, before going on to show the opening credits.
- Comically Missing the Point: Long story short, a bum tries to steal a bicycle by cutting off the chains, but the owner yells from afar. The bum shoves the cutters in Jung's hands and runs. Jung says he was looking for a pair of cutters like these, while Kimchee tells him to run before they get caught.
- Comically Small Bribe: Not wanting Jung to get the promotion at the Car Rental, Mrs. Kim not-so-subtly passes a small envelope containing money to Shannon in an attempt to bribe her. All that Shannon can be seen taking out of the envelope is two coins.
- Conspiracy Theorist: One customer rambles about several conspiracies involving brand products, companies, the government and reptilian aliens.
- Continuity Nod: At the beginning of "Ddong Chim", we learn that Appa regularly reports illegally parked cars to the police, but only if the cars are Japanese. A few episodes later in "Rude Kid", this exchange occurs:Umma: Every day, Appa is looking out the window. You know what he looking for?Janet: Illegally parked Japanese cars?
- Country Matters: Mr. Kim once misspells "discount" as "discunt" on one of the signs in the store (the word is covered in some way whenever it's in the camera shot but it's made obvious that's the exact spelling Mr. Kim used). A customer finds it hilarious, whereas Pastor Nina and Mrs. Kim are horrified. Mr. Kim doesn't realize what "cunt" is and is confused as to why a big deal is being made over what he thinks is a harmless spelling mistake, leading Pastor Nina to awkward explain the connotations behind the word.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Frank rambles about multiple stories at once that don't go anywhere, much to Appa's annoyance, but on occasion there can be a bit of wisdom in what he says.
- Death Glare: Appa or Umma are prone to throwing frightening glares at others (or each other) when they're annoyed. Appa even takes a photo of himself giving this frightening glare to the camera to gift to Gerald when he and Janet start living together.
- Digging Yourself Deeper:
- Combined with Not What It Looks Like, Jung tries to explain to his co-workers what a ddong chim (a Korean wedgie) is. His explanations get increasingly more awkward and sexually disturbing.
- Janet makes an accidentally sexual comment to a waitress who does not seem to react well, and comes back to the restaurant to apologise to her. Unfortunately, she gets another waitress mixed up with her because they're both black and wear similar braided hairstyles, and she runs away before she can be confronted.Janet: I should go back and apologise.
Jung: And sign up for sensitivity training.
- Drag Queen: A drag queen named Therese visits the store during Gay Pride Week and is offered the "gay discount" from Mr. Kim (who thinks Therese is a transwoman and that Trans Equals Gay). Mr. Kim is confused by the concept of drag queens but is sincere when asking Therese about it and wholeheartedly accepts his answer. Mr. Kim still offers him the discount, which Therese scoffs at but accepts anyways.Mr. Kim: Oh, you is man who dress like girl?
Therese: A woman. Yeah. Why?
Mr. Kim: Why you do like this?
Therese: Oh, um, I don't know. It feels like me. Feels like home. Always has.
- Follow in My Footsteps: Mr. Kim believes that Janet should take over the store when he retires.
- "Friends" Rent Control:
- Janet and Gerald's apartment seems surprisingly spacious and decent considering both are college students with only casual jobs at best (and Janet doesn't even get paid since it's the family convenience store). The one possibility for them being able to afford the place is Mr. and Mrs. Kim helping out since they don't want Janet living in an unsafe cheap place (and Mr. Kim is more than keen to be alone in the house with his wife).
- Jung and Kimchi's apartment includes a bedroom plus a den (re-purposed as Jung's bedroom). While it would cost less than a full two-bedroom, it still looks pricey for two employees of a car rental agency even in a less affluent neighbourhood of Toronto.
- The Food Poisoning Incident: Mr. Kim eats expired ravioli to prove to Janet that it's okay to eat and sell at the store. He ends up needing to go to the toilet for the majority of the day and thinks it's the ravioli. Janet gloats at first but also finds herself doing the same thing later. They figure out it's because of Mrs. Kim's galbijjim which they both ate, and they quickly call her to throw it out at a church event she's helping out at so no one else gets sick. She does throw it out and warn everyone, but not before her Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Mrs. Park takes a bite.
- Fourth Wall Psych: A clip posted to the series' social media to hype up Season 3's premiere has Mr. and Mrs. Kim at the store dressed in hanboknote , wishing viewers (and their kids and grandkids) a happy new year and saying that they love and miss them. Then Janet arrives in the background and asks her parents who they're talking to — turns out they were recording a New Year's video for Janet to watch in the future when she (presumably) has grandchildren and when her parents have passed on (so they can watch her watch them in the video). Janet is understandably unsettled. Mr. and Mrs. Kim attempt to do more takes but Janet interrupts them every time.
- Gone Horribly Right: Mad that her parents sold some of her belongings that she left at their home, Janet sells their seemingly unimportant golden elephant statue as payback. Mrs. Kim then tricks Janet into thinking the statue contained her grandfather's ashes, in an attempt to guilt-trip her. Janet does her best to reclaim the statue but fails, and she bursts into tears when she tells her father. Mr. Kim feels so guilty that he ends up confessing about the lie.
- Got Volunteered: Mrs. Kim volunteers her husband to help their church sell tickets to a Korean singers' concert. A confused and annoyed Mr. Kim asks his wife when he did this, and she cheerfully replies, "When you marry me."
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Korean words/phrases are often used (especially "Appa" and "Umma" as used by Jung and Janet) in the otherwise Canadian setting, and there's the occasional brief Korean conversation. Considering this series stars a Korean immigrant family, this is actually far less Korean than it should be; Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who plays Mr. Kim, has said that the parents would be speaking far more Korean in real-life.
- Heartbreak and Ice Cream: Janet takes some ice-cream and other snacks from her parents' store to her room after finding out the boy she was casually seeing became engaged (without even breaking their romance off first, let alone telling her beforehand). After giving the boy a What the Hell, Hero? speech, Appa offers Janet more of his "sad-food group" and joins her.
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": While fixing the apartment toilet in "Handyman," Kimchee begins to chuckle after Mr. Kim says the word "ballcock." An unimpressed Mr. Kim then sprays him with toilet water. He has a chuckle afterward.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In the pilot, Mr. Kim worries that money's been stolen when he's checking how much the store's made and notices that it's less than it should be. He initially considers Janet as a possible suspect, to her horror. However, he and Mrs. Kim soon realize that the loss in money is because of the "gay discount" Mr. Kim spontaneously enforced.
- Hypocritical Humor: Events or statements contradicting what they've originally said is a trademark of some characters, especially Mr. Kim:
- In "Janet's Photos", Mr. Kim is clearly enthusiastic when Semira shows the nude photography she took of what appears to be female models but then shows his disapproval when he goes through Gerald's work for the same assignment and sees that he used himself as the model.Mr. Kim: You should find model. And panty.
- In "Ddong Chim" after noticing an illegally parked Toyota near the store, he lectures Janet that people who purchase a Japanese product are guilty by association (noting Koreans didn't exactly get along with the Japanese in the 20th century). Janet turns it around saying that her father has a Canon camera, he tries to say he's ripping them off because he got it for half price, then he ultimately decides to not report the car because it's actually a Hyundai.
- Mrs. Kim is upset during the cold open of "Wingman" because Mr. Kim keeps letting people use the store's bathroom for emergencies. Mr. Kim maintains that going to the bathroom is "a basic human right"... until a rather washout character comes in and asks to use the bathroom. Mr. Kim then says their toilet is broken and tells him to use the one next door.
- This classic exchange from "House Guest", while arguing whether to let their pastor stay at their house:
- In "Good Neighbours", Appa is drinking a healthy juice beverage with the fitness instructor from next door and talking about how "health is so important." Umma then points out that he had a Twinkie for breakfast.
- Janet berates Jung for taking advantage of their mother's kindness (having her come over to his place to bring food and even do other housework like laundry). While Jung tries to defend himself, the security guard from the film festival returns from the bathroom, and everyone finds out that Janet's been tricking the guard with her fake tragic backstory as a North Korean filmmaker so that she can sneak in to more film events. Jung very much rubs this in her face after the guard storms out.
- In "Janet's Photos", Mr. Kim is clearly enthusiastic when Semira shows the nude photography she took of what appears to be female models but then shows his disapproval when he goes through Gerald's work for the same assignment and sees that he used himself as the model.
- Identical-Looking Asians: A customer in "Rude Kid" thinks Appa looks Japanese, "like that guy in The Last Samurai".Appa: Tom Cruise?
- I Have This Friend...:
- In the Season 3 opener, when Jung wants to work at Handy Car Rental again without confessing he didn't actually get the job at the rival company, he makes up a story about a co-worker called Dave not fitting in at the rival company and asks Shannon if they'd be willing to hire him. She eventually agrees and later tells him to have "Dave" drop by for a meeting. Jung assumes Shannon's figured out Dave is actually him—unfortunately when he arrives at Handy for the meeting, it turns out she hasn't.
- When trying to hint that Alejandro cheated on her, Jung pretends to ask Shannon for advice about a friend who isn't being faithful in his relationship and whether he has the right to say something about it. Shannon unfortunately mistakes this to be a hint about her own scuffle (her kissing Jung) and blurts it out to Alejandro when he arrives at the workplace right afterward.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Jung is greeted with a "konnichiwa" from the old white guy he's trying to buy sneakers off of. The guy then apologises and says, "It's the only Oriental I know." This is only the first of many offensive remarks, both racist and sexist, that he spouts at Jung and Shannon.
- It's Always Spring: Averted. Every episode through season 2 takes place in the summer. This might be deliberate by the shows creators to show that Toronto is not always cold.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: The folio work Mr. Kim first sees from Gerald comprises nude photos of himself (he couldn't find a model). Despite it being legit photography work, Mr. Kim is thrown off by the nudity and keeps thinking of Gerald as a crazed pornographic photographer. He initially refuses to have his photo taken by him for this reason and gets the wrong idea when he finds out Gerald took Mrs. Kim's photo instead.
- Language Fluency Denial: Janet's subplot in "Sneak Attack" (2x07) starts when her response to getting caught sneaking into a film festival is pretending she doesn't speak English fluently. This leads the security guard to think she's a North Korean dissident filmmaker named Janat.
- Last-Name Basis: Many of the older immigrant characters are usually called by their surname with the appropriate honorifics, such as Mr. and Mrs. Kim, presumably because they're easier to remember than their first names. Discussed and Played for Laughs when Mr. Kim and Mr. Mehta realize they call each other this way because they don't remember each other's first names to begin with.
- Literal Metaphor: Janet misunderstands why the waitress didn't come back to serve her table (she felt unwell) and thinks it's because she made an offensive comment. She comes back to apologise, and this exchange occurs:Waitress: Yeah, I felt sick.
Janet: Me, too. I felt sick thinking about what I said.
Waitress: (confused) No, I had some kind of flu bug. What did you say?
- Malaproper: Mr. and Mrs. Kim, being immigrants and so not completely fluent in English, sometimes mispronounce words or say phrases incorrectly. One such example is Mr. Kim not knowing the word homophobic and mispronouncing it three times in one scene: "homopebek", "homopeebeek" and "homopobok".
- Metaphorgotten: Mr. Kim disagrees when Semira wonders if her work for the nude photography assignment was too much and attempts to show support by saying, "We all born naked and we die naked." Semira and Gerald are left confused, and Mr. Kim quickly follows up with, "Depending. If we lucky."
- Mistaken for Gay:
- While enforcing the "gay discount", Mr. Kim assumes one of the store's job applicants (actually potential suitors for Janet that Mrs. Kim got hold of) is gay and offers the discount to him. He denies it but Mr. Kim assures him that "gay take time".
- Terence and a co-worker up to a certain point in the story assume Jung and Kimchee are a couple due to them living together and being close to one another.
- Mistaken for Masturbating: Gerald hears Janet in her room moaning, along with a vibrating noise and assumes she's pleasuring herself. He continues to assume this when he hears Janet and her parents talking about "massage-kigae", only to find out that the "massage-kigae" is just a neck massager.
- Modesty Towel:
- Grace comes out of the bathroom in Jung and Kimchee's apartment wearing only a towel after her date with Jung and spending the night there.
- Jung comes out of the shower with only a tower to cover his waist in one episode when Kimchee's date arrives at their apartment. Kimchee is annoyed to no end because he was trying to get Jung to stop "stealing" his dates.
- Moment Killer: Whenever Shannon tries to hit on Jung or be alone with him, something always comes up to interrupt them.
- Mr Fix It: Frank's job is to repair stuff that's broken. Mr. Kim tries to play this role, with mixed results (he helps Kimchee fix his toilet fine but is unable to fix the store's air conditioner and so has to summon Frank).
- My Beloved Smother: Korean mothers in the show are shown to be rather clingy and obsessive over their children. One example is when Jung and his ex-girlfriend Grace are about to go on a date, only to find both their mothers waiting for them at the restaurant because, as it turns out, the two plotted the whole thing.
- No Name Given: Mr. and Mrs. Kim are referred to as such (by non-family) or Appa and Umma (by family). Their names are finally revealed in "Handyman" as Sang-il and Yung-mi, but their real names are otherwise never used by characters on the show.
- Noodle Incident: When Mrs. Kim tells Jung she's found his naked pictures, he panics. Then Mrs. Kim adds on and says she found them under his bed (they're naked photos of girls), Jung is relieved and says, "Oh, naked pictures of other people." Mrs. Kim doesn't catch on and Jung's supposed nude leak is never addressed afterward.
- Not What It Looks Like:
- When a delinquent tries to rob the store, Jung convinces him to give up his knife for the cash register's contents. After the robber leaves, Jung plays with the knife as the police comes in. They arrest Jung thinking he was robbing the store.
- At the church, Mrs. Kim and Mrs. Park catch Jung giving Jeanie Park a flask of alcohol. Mrs. Kim is furious as she was humiliated in front of Mrs. Park. As it turns out, the flask belongs to Mr. Park and Jeanie shoved the flask into Jung's hands when Mrs. Kim and Mrs. Park walked in.
- Gerald feels very uncomfortable when he hears Janet moaning and thinks she is pleasuring herself. She was actually using a neck massager.
- No, You
Janet: Appa, that's such a messed up idea!
- Appa does this very frequently during arguments; occasionally he does it multiple times in a row.
Appa: You messed up idea.
Janet: No, Appa, that's...
Appa: You no.
Appa: You what?
Janet: Stop doing that!
Appa: You stop.
Janet: So if I stop...
Appa: You so if I stop...
(Janet screams in frustration and walks away)
- When Umma gets a call from Mrs. Lee regarding the whereabouts of her daughter (they're both at Jung's place), she lies and says she doesn't know. Although viewers don't hear Mrs. Lee, Umma hastily replies with, "No, you sound weird!" and hangs up, making it clear Mrs. Lee certainly didn't believe her.
- Once a Season: Jung's many Walking Shirtless Scene pop up at least once a season to make use of him as the Mr. Fanservice.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Short-lived when Jung visits the store to see his dad after getting a text from him. Mr. Kim tells Jung he has a job for him (to help him move the dishwasher upstairs). Jung misunderstands and thinks he's saying he's found employment for him (he was jobless thanks to leaving Handy and not getting accepted at the other car rental place), so he gets defensive and says he got his job back so he doesn't need to worry. Mr. Kim was unaware of this so he's shocked and asks if Jung lost his job. Jung backtracks and say, "No! Working at Handy, still."
- Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: A customer walks in the store in the middle of Mr. and Mrs. Kim's argument about selling off the latter's grave spot. Specifically, she comes just in time to hear Mrs. Kim complaining about her husband polluting the lake with his corpse (he proposed having her take his grave and getting Janet to throw his body in the lake) and not being Together in Death, and Mr. Kim suggesting they just sell his grave and have his wife's body thrown in the lake too. The customer quietly and quickly leaves, which does not go unnoticed by Janet.
- Parental Sexuality Squick: In Season 3 Janet is horrified when she realizes her parents had sex on Gerald's waterbed, which happens twice. She eventually confronts them and scolds them, although she struggles to say it out loud the first time because she's too embarrassed. Janet avoids telling Gerald until he fixes his bed and she blurts the truth out of guilt. Janet is also very quick to leave the house in Season 2 when she realizes her parents were planning to have "together-time" that night.
- Pinky Swear: When Mr. Kim lies and says Mrs. Kim has a lump on her back, he makes Janet swear not to discuss the matter with her and they do a pinky swear. It ends up being futile as Janet blurts the "secret" out to her mother (and so finds out that it's her father who has the lump).
- Precision F-Strike: The usually chill Janet blows up on Nayoung when she gets sick of her Kawaiiko ways and being "upstaged" by her as Koreans, emphasised by the F-bomb:Janet: And don't call me "eonni" anymore. We're not kids. You're 18. Act like a fucking grownup!
- Potty Emergency: Mr. Kim and Janet get sick and fight their bathroom urges (and fail) while at the store which they're supposed to be running (Janet's friend ends up having to take over their shifts on the spot). At first Mr. Kim thinks it's because he ate the expired ravioli (in order to prove to Janet that it was okay to eat); however he and Janet realize that the one food the both of them have eaten that day is Mrs. Kim's galbijjim... which she also took to a church event. They call Mrs. Kim in time for her to throw out what left of it there is but not before her Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Mrs. Park starts eating her share (not that Mrs. Kim feels guilty). At the end of the episode, Mr. Kim does Korean exercises to make himself feel better but accidentally farts (probably worse) when doing one of the squatting moves.Mrs. Kim: I go open window.
Mr. Kim: I go change panty.
- Reality Ensues:
- Janet's shocked when she finds out that her parents' idea of date night is for her father to drop her mother off at the bus stop to go dancing while he goes golfing. She insists that Mr. Kim learn how to dance so he can accompany Mrs. Kim and have a proper date night; however, despite learning from online videos, Mr. Kim still remains terrible at dancing and neither he nor Mrs. Kim finding dancing together enjoyable. They make a point to each other and to Janet that being a happy couple does not mean spending all their time and hobbies together — Mrs. Kim loves Mr. Kim and dancing but just not the two combined, and Mr. Kim says that they'll never miss each other if they're never apart.
- In the Season 2 finale, Jung may have become a better person as a working adult and also just gotten his GED, but his delinquent past still catches up to him and ultimately stops him from getting the managing position at the rival car rental company.
- When Mr. and Mrs. Kim show off all the new English words they've learned, the two have an awkward moment when they don't remember what the Korean word for "unilingual" is. As most bilingual speakers will vouch for, it's very common for people fluent in multiple languages to forget certain words in their first language.
- Real Men Wear Pink: A discussed trope when the church is having a bake sale and the traditionally masculine Mr. Kim is made to bake the nanaimo bars instead of his wife. He actually does a good job, with all the women who try them giving their approval. Jimmy however makes fun of him by calling him a wife, making multiple implications that cooking is not a manly thing to do. Mr. Kim doesn't flinch and fights back, saying that Jimmy only finds this sexist joke funny because he doesn't have a wife.
- Rule of Three: In "Sneak Attack", Umma brings several dishes of food to Jung and Kimchee's apartment. When Kimchee reaches for one of the dishes, Umma slaps his hand and says, "Save for later!" A little while later, Kimchee reaches for another dish and Umma slaps his hand and says, "I say later!" Kimchee then opens a container of yogurt that he bought for himself, and Umma slaps his hand again, this time because the yogurt is expired.
- Running Gag: A few quirks or gags occur frequently in the series.
- The first episode has Kim family members unexpectedly turning up to Jung's work place and Shannon running into them at inopportune times. Lampshaded when the last of them (Mr. Kim) appears and she asks Jung how many family members he has, and he promises his dad is the last one.
- Pastor Choi casually taking the belongings of one of the women when they're doing volunteering work at the church, followed by someone exclaiming something along the lines of "he took my/your __".
- Mr. Kim bringing up the Japanese invasion, and being anti-Japan in general.
- Pastor Nina blurting out to everyone that Mrs. Park is seeing her for marriage counseling.
- Pastor Nina sincerely attempting (and often failing) to pronounce Korean words/phrases correctly, and checking with a Korean speaker like Mrs. Kim if she's saying it right.
- Enrique, one of the regular customers, insists on carrying all his goods in his arms as he is opposed to the use of plastic bags. Things don't work too well for him in the end.
- No matter what the subject of a conversation is, Mr. Chin will nearly always manage to bring his spoiled dog Ginger into it somehow.
- Appa and Umma constantly accusing each other of "doing sneak attack."
- Mrs. Kim tries her best to avoid Mr. Mehta's incredibly physical greetings.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mr. and Mrs. Kim start taking English classes and show off all the fancy vocabulary they've learned to Janet. Played for Laughs and downplayed as majority of the words are only fancy for their standards:Mr. Kim: Delightful afternoon, Janet.
Mrs. Kim: Oh, you look exceptionally jaunty today.
Janet: What's going on?
Mrs. Kim: Yeah, we just decide to ameliorate our vocabulary.
Mr. Kim: You probably flabbergast right now.
Mrs. Kim: Yah! Because you speak only one language. But we master two.
Mr. Kim: Yah. Keep up, Janet.
Mrs. Kim: Oh! I know good word for you, Janet. Ah, "unilingual".
Mr. Kim: Or, in Korean...?
(Beat moment as Mr. and Mrs. Kim realize neither of them actually remember what the Korean equivalent is, and cue credits roll)
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: A few stories end with the focus characters having used up a lot of effort or carry out ridiculous plans for nothing, especially when money is concerned.
- Jung accidentally ruins Kimchee's special sneakers and goes out of his way to buy a new pair from a racist and sexist older white man (naturally, uncomfortable exchanges ensued). Although Kimchee happily accepts them, he also informs Jung that the sneakers he got are knock-offs.
- Mrs. Kim makes an effort to get a lost dog back to their owner in hopes of getting the money being offered as reward. However, just as the owner is about to pay up, Shannon (who briefly looked after the dog) insists that it isn't necessary since the time she spent with the dog was rewarding enough. The owner complies, much to Mrs. Kim's annoyance.
- Janet gets offered to work with a guest photographer lecturer for a shoot, and she misunderstands her job to be modelling-related. Paranoid about how unattractive she sees herself, she unsuccessfully gives herself a makeover which includes a bad fake tan (keep in mind this was right after she called out the photographer for not being diverse enough with his models). She only finds out after she arrives for the job that he only wanted her to help him with the actual shooting itself.
- In Episode 1 of Season 1, Mr. Kim laments that people should be gay in a respectful and quiet manner, like Anderson Cooper and Neil Patrick Harris.
- In Episode 5 of Season 1, in a Korean newspaper that Mr. Kim is reading, a photo of the Korean Pop Music girl group Sistar can be seen on one of the pages.
- In Episode 12 of Season 2, Jung and Kimchee's plans for the night are to watch Pirates of the Caribbean. Janet is less than eager to join them for this.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
- Mrs. Park and Umma can never resist trying to one-up one another when church events are involved.
- In Season 2, Jung sees Alejandro as a sitcom arch-nemesis due to him dating Shannon. He's not above making petty remarks about him or planning his doom, like giving Alejandro's name instead of his own when reporting himself to the police.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Alejandro (somehow) successfully puts this to good use when arguing with his love interests. When he's trying to take furniture back from his ex's house, they have an argument which they decide to "sort out" in her bedroom, and things suddenly go quiet; it's clear to Jung what really happened in there after Alejandro comes out while still putting his shirt on and his ex suddenly acting sweeter than before. When Jung brings this up to Shannon, she and Alejandro argue and decide to settle it in the utility room, where things also suddenly go quiet. The two come out after a long time while looking a little dishevelled, again making it obvious what happened.
- Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Season 1 is a Type 4 (near-identical), with some scenes being a Type 5 (identical). It follows the plot of the play almost beat for beat while introducing all-new characters and showing several scenes outside the convenience store, allowing for the expanded running time from a one-act play into a 13-episode sitcom.
- Spoiled Brat: Fittingly, comes up in the episode "Rude Child". Mrs. Murray, Janet's professor, brings her son to Kim's Convenience. The child runs across the store, makes a mess and ransacks bags of chips. Mrs. Murray refuses to discipline her child and demands an apology from Mr. Kim when he flicks the boy's head. The mother and son duo do not improve by the end of the episode, with the son still making a mess and the mother promising iPad time to get him to listen to her rather than properly disciplining him.
- Straw Misogynist:
- Not only is the old white guy selling sneakers to Jung and Shannon an annoying racist towards Jung, but he also makes belittling sexist remarks towards Shannon, asking if she's on her period because of how cranky she's being and that she'd "be pretty if [she] smiled". Jung is willing to wave off the racism so he can quickly get the sneakers, but gets angry and initially calls the deal off the moment the sexist remarks begin.
- Church parishioner Jimmy Young, who loudly and regularly makes rude and sexist jokes which are so blatant that just about no one on the show likes him.
- Stop Saying That!: A variant of the phrase from both sides is said when Jung awkwardly explains what a dong chim is to Shannon and all she can focus on is the "anus" bit.Jung: No, it's just how you put your hands. And then you just give a quick jab. For fun.
Shannon: So you jab the anus for fun.
Jung: It's got nothing to do with the anus. Okay? Just forget about the anus.
Shannon: I'd like to, but you keep saying "anus".
- Sure, Let's Go with That: A handwritten sign Mr. Kim misspelled sparks a conversation about the struggles of learning English between Mrs. Kim and another immigrant customer. After Mrs. Kim makes fun of Mr. Kim misspelling that sign and brags that she's more fluent than he is, the customer proceeds to point out all the mistakes in the other signs in the store, thinking they were also made by Mr. Kim. Those signs were actually done by Mrs. Kim, but she's too embarrassed to admit it so she plays along and claims she will correct her husband.
- Tactful Translation: Mrs. Kim, her Korean friends and Pastor Nina watch a Korean drama together in one episode. Since they're not watching with subtitles, Pastor Nina is confused most of the time and keeps making comments. One of the friends grumbles to Mrs. Kim in Korean if she's going to be talking the whole time, and Mrs. Kim replies that she only invited her to be polite. Pastor Nina overhears and asks what they're saying, and Mrs. Kim cheerfully lies with, "So good, huh?"
- Take That!:
- Shannon tries to explain in a roundabout way the decision to use a standee of Jung to promote their car rental business. Mrs. Kim gets straight to the point:Shannon: Handy used Jung as a model for its hiring campaign. We're hoping to reach all different kinds of people.
Mrs. Kim: Oh. Different how?
Shannon: Oh, well, not different, just diverse. A wide range of backgrounds, culturally.
Mrs. Kim: Too many white people?
Shannon: Essentially, yes.
- Jung and Kimchee plan to watch the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The disapproving Janet's response? "You've planned to do that? Isn't it something that just happens?"
- While cringing over mistaking two black waitresses for each other, Janet calls the feat a "white guy mistake".
- Shannon tries to explain in a roundabout way the decision to use a standee of Jung to promote their car rental business. Mrs. Kim gets straight to the point:
- Talk About the Weather: Mr. Chin, Mr. Mehta, and Mr. Kim are shocked by a flirty message the latter's received from a secret admirer in the convenience store's Google reviews. They are then all sent into a panic when Mrs. Kim walks in. Trying to act like nothing happened, Mr. Mehta starts talking about the weather. All he can muster, though, is, "The weather! My god! It's... everywhere."
- That Came Out Wrong:
- Shannon often says things and immediately tries to back-pedal when she realizes how off it sounds, such as saying she was known as the "rebound girl"(because of basketball) back at school or being the "town bicycle" (because she used to bike around her hometown).
- Grace Lee tells Jung that if he wants to ask her out, he should do it quickly because she "charges by the hour." She then clarifies it's because she is a lawyer.
- When offered tea by the waitress at a restaurant, Janet says she'd love to check out her box. While she meant the box of tea, she and her friends immediately realize the sexual implications behind that exchangenote after the waitress leaves. When a different waiter comes to serve their table, Janet worries her comment offended the woman. It later turns out the waitress left because she was sick; when she's confronted by Janet about the exchange, she laughs and thinks it was Actually Pretty Funny.
- Together in Death: A Discussed Trope when it turns out Mr. Kim sold his wife's grave spot years ago in order to fix the cooler, meaning only his grave spot remains. Mrs. Kim is very unhappy, since the point of reserving both their graves next to each other was so that they can be together "forever and ever in eternity". They eventually compromise and decide to be buried together "bunk-bed style" (be buried in the same grave and have whoever dies second be on top of the other).
- Toilet Humour:
- "Best Before" involves Mr. Kim and Janet making frequent trips to the bathroom after eating expired ravioli (Mr. Kim) and Mrs. Kim's galbijjim (both of them), much to the confusion of the customers and Semira (who ends up taking over them in the store when the both of them go at the same time). After finding out about the galbijjim, Mrs. Kim and Jung find great joy in seeing Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Mrs. Park take a bite of it.
- In "The Appa-Liance", Mr. Kim makes a few awkward trips to the freezer area to do his farts since he finds it rude to do it in front of Mrs. Mehta, which does not go unnoticed by her. He then has a good chuckle when he makes an oblivious Janet go fetch him a drink from the freezer and get a whiff of said fart, in exchange for letting her take the day off from work.
- Token White: Jung's manager Shannon, who is from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, is the only white member of the main cast.
- Trans Equals Gay: In order to defy accusations of being homophobic, Mr. Kim decides to give a "gay discount" to (who he thinks are) gay customers at the store during Gay Pride Week. When a Drag Queen comes to his store, he assumes he's a transwoman and offers the gay discount to him, apparently thinking gay and trans are interchangeable. Even after the customer explains he's a drag queen, he's still offered the discount which he reluctantly accepts.
- Transgender: In the Season 4 episode "The Trollop", Mr. Kim and Janet serve a non-binary customer called Evah. Mr. Kim is unware at first and calls them "Miss", and then gets flustered when he thinks they're a guy. He's confused when Janet tries to explain to him Evah isn't male or female and uses "them/they" (or ze/zir) pronouns, but understands better when Evah calls themselves trans. Mr. Kim remains polite to them, but doesn't quite understand the non-binary gender completely and so still comes off as Innocently Insensitive, which Evah takes in stride.Mr. Kim: Oh, you is trans! You don't look trans.
Janet: Appa, you can't say that either.
Mr. Kim: What? I say she look good.
Janet: It's 'they'. They look good.
Mr. Kim: Not all trans look good. Not all Korean look good. (Janet sighs in frustration)
Evah: It's fine. I'm Evah.
Mr. Kim: Hello, Evah. I am Mr. Kim. And this is Censorship Janet.
Evah: It's nice to meet you both.
Mr. Kim: Nice meeting all of you too.
Evah: (takes their groceries and leaves) Bye.
Mr. Kim: Okay, Zee you.
Janet: That's not how it works.
- Unknown Rival: In the cold open for "Appa's Lump," Enrique, one of Mr. Kim's regulars, declares out of nowhere that he is ending his boycott of Kim's Convenience and is willing to bury the hatchet with a hug. Mr. Kim is just as befuddled as the audience.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Despite Shannon finding a boyfriend at the end of Season 1, there's still sexual tension between her and Jung afterward,
- Unusual Euphemism:
- After hooking up with Kimchee, Nayoung refers to her intimacy with him as their "fun-together-time".
- Due to misunderstanding Janet's neck-massaging sessions, Gerald mistakes the term "massage-kigae" as some Korean term for A Date with Rosie Palms (it's just a massaging device). Cue his horrified looks when Janet, Mrs. Kim and Mr. Kim casually talk about having some massage-kigae time, including Mr. Kim wanting to use it quickly before leaving the store and Mrs. Kim telling him to "just use cream" while in the car.
- Mr. Kim, dressed in nothing but his robe and boxers is annoyed when he finds Janet (who's moved out at this point) settling at home to watch a movie, saying that this is his "together-time" with Mrs. Kim which they do after their "apart time". Janet thinks nothing of it and finds it cute, not understanding what "together-time" actually means until she hears her mother calling for her father from their bedroom upstairs and then quickly leaves.Mr. Kim: Together time gonna be very together time.
- "Walk on the Wild Side" Episode: Janet starts to act rebellious when she feels she doesn't receive enough appreciation from her parents, highlighted by turning up to Jung's GED celebration party with a on motorcycle right in front of said parents.
- Way Past the Expiration Date: Mr. Kim gets annoyed when Janet takes down the expired ravioli he was trying to sell at the store and attempts to prove they're still fine by eating one of the cans. Sure enough, he at least gets a scare when he makes frequent trips to the bathroom that day and gets sick (it turns out Mrs. Kim's galbijjim, which both he and the sick Janet ate, went bad too, so it's not 100% clear if the ravioli also had any effect or not).
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Jung's friend Alex from school, whom Janet briefly dates, does not appear again after "Service", even though he should logically still be around either on-duty or hanging out with Jung. He's later mentioned briefly as one of Janet's exes, but his whereabouts are never explained.
- Wham Line: Mr. Kim is initially assumed to just not care for Jung anymore, ever since the two had a falling out and stop contacting each other. This changes in Episode 6 of Season 1, when Mrs. Kim tells Janet Mr. Kim looks out the window of their store every day. The reason? "He is looking for Jung. Hoping."
- Who's Watching the Store?: Averted as there's always at least one person minding the store during its business hours even if other family members are somewhere else. This trope (or avoiding it) is sometimes discussed or used as a plot point, as Mr. Kim insists on never even taking bathroom breaks let alone closing the store.
- In the food poisoning incident, Janet is about to leave the store but finds the counter staff-less and with a line of people waiting, as Mr. Kim had gone on a bathroom break to deal with his Potty Emergency. She takes over but excuses herself soon afterward as she deals with the same problem herself, leaving the customer hanging. Later when both daughter and father again run off to the toilet, Janet's friend Semira attempts to help a customer when she sees him waiting at the counter.
- Discussed in Episode 12 of Season 1 when Mr. Kim suddenly has to have surgery the same evening as Janet's award ceremony which means no one can run the store (Mrs. Kim has to accompany her husband). Janet insists on missing out on the ceremony so she can run the store but the parents are adamant that she goes — she almost does as they say, but customers keeping rolling in just as she's about to close up and she finds herself staying behind anyways. The one previous and only time the store has ever been closed is also discussed — when Jung got his appendix removed as a child and Mr. Kim stayed with him at the hospital the whole time.
- The parents are actually willing to close the store to celebrate Jung finishing high school, which upsets Janet since they wouldn't close the store for her.
- Wrong Name Outburst: After helping Kimchee fix his toilet, Mr. Kim says, "You good assistant, Jung," one of the early signs that he still holds his son dear to his heart despite their strained relationship. The two quickly change the subject after a moment of awkward silence.