Beef Actor David Choe: The Full Controversy Explained

David's presence in the hit Netflix show has been a source of discomfort for many viewers.
David Choe at the LA premiere of Beef last month
David Choe at the LA premiere of Beef last month
JC Olivera via Getty Images

Beef is one of the biggest new shows on Netflix right now, but the presence of one actor has proved to be a source of discomfort for many viewers.

Since the comedy-drama’s debut last month, you may have seen a lot of discussion online about David Choe, namely due to a story he told on a podcast back in 2014.

While no one related to Beef is yet to speak out publicly about the matter, the conversation is still raging online.

So, if the subject has passed you by, here’s the story so far…

First of all, who is David Choe?

David Choe is an American actor, artist and former journalist who can currently be seen performing in the hit Netflix show Beef.

He also recently acted in an episode of the Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian, and appeared as himself in numerous documentaries.

As well as playing Issac Cho in Beef, he also illustrated the title card for almost every episode of the show.

However, since the show’s debut, many viewers have been sharing their discomfort at seeing David in the cast, due to comments he made on his DVDASA podcast in 2014.

David Choe in character as Issac on the set of Beef
David Choe in character as Issac on the set of Beef

What’s the controversy about?

During one episode of his now-defunct podcast DVDASA, released in 2014, David told a story about masturbating while receiving a massage, and forcing the female massage therapist into touching his penis and performing an oral sex act on him.

“I just want to make it clear that I admit that that’s rapey behaviour,” he said towards the end of the recording (per a BuzzFeed News report from this time). “But I am not a rapist.”

His co-host Asa Akira is then said to have commented: “You’re basically telling us that you’re a rapist right now, and the only way to get your dick hard is rape.”

“Yeah,” he apparently responded.

The podcast sparked controversy upon its release, with David insisting a month later that the story he’d told was not factual.

“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 in a statement.

“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,” he added. “They were not!”

David Choe at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in 2022
David Choe at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in 2022
Amanda Edwards via Getty Images

In 2017, when David was commissioned for a street art project, he once again insisted that the story he told on his podcast was not true.

He wrote on his Instagram (as reported by Vice): “In a 2014 episode of DVDASA, I relayed a story simply for shock value that made it seem as if I had sexually violated a woman. Though I said those words, I did not commit those actions. It did not happen. I have ZERO history of sexual assault.

“I am deeply sorry for any hurt I’ve brought to anyone through my past words. Non-consensual sex is rape and it is never funny or appropriate to joke about. I was a sick person at the height of my mental illness, and have spent the last three years in mental health facilities healing myself and dedicating my life to helping and healing others through love and action.

“I do not believe in the things I have said although I take full ownership of saying them. Additionally, I do not condemn anyone or have any ill will towards those who spread hate and speak out negatively against me, no one will ever hate me more than I hated myself back then.”

And what’s the latest?

David Choe as Issac in Beef
David Choe as Issac in Beef

Since the success of Beef on Netflix, clips of David Choe telling the story on his podcast have resurfaced on social media, with an audio file being posted on Twitter by the journalists Aura Bogado and Meecham Whitson Meriweather.

Both Aura and Meecham have now tweeted that they received an email from Twitter, claiming that a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice had been filed by someone claiming to be David Choe, calling for the clip to be removed.

The US-based entertainment outlet Variety reported on Sunday evening that they had “reviewed the email sent from Twitter”, which describes the posts as “copyright infringing media” and requests their “immediate” removal.

What has the team behind Beef said?

At the time of writing, David Choe has not addressed the backlash, and neither have Netflix nor the production company behind Beef, A24.

HuffPost UK has contacted representatives for David Choe, Netflix and A24, and will update this article if we receive a response.


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