Video: A Conversation With John Cho ‘Troublemaker’


Written by Mouza on March 12

Video: Race in America Giving Voice with John Cho


Written by Mouza on March 12

News: John Cho for The Hollywood Reporter


Written by Mouza on March 12

It was a Tuesday morning in February and John Cho was listening to a podcast as he exercised.

He’d selected an episode detailing the night former President Donald Trump posed with a Bible for a “photo op” in front of the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. To get the picture, U.S. Park Police deployed rubber bullets, shields and chemical irritants like pepper spray, forcefully removing protestors from nearby Lafayette Park.

The first-hand account described people huddled, washing each other’s eyes out with milk and water in the home of someone who had opened their doors as a refuge. As he was listening, Cho started to have a panic attack. “These are things thousands of miles away, you know, and I wasn’t there, but these events do enter your heart in a way that’s difficult to predict,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I had to turn it off. I couldn’t breathe. I sort of fell to my knee. It was crazy.”

This is not the first time the actor has been overwhelmed since the summer of 2020. It’s why he pivoted the focus of his middle-grade debut, initially pitched as a mystery novel and “a gift to a younger me,” to Troublemaker (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). The story follows a 12-year-old Korean American boy named Jordan, who — feeling guilty over an unresolved fight and scared for his father, who left to go board up the family’s store — takes a gun from his Appa’s closet and ventures out, without permission, during the first night of the 1992 L.A. Uprising.

The idea of telling a story about the L.A. Riots from the Korean perspective had actually been on Cho’s mind for a while as a possible movie, but how to tell it wasn’t clear. Then in the late spring of 2020, George Floyd’s murder was broadcast across the country, as were that summer’s unprecedented racial justice protests demanding changes to the American policing system. Alongside all of this, anti-Asian racism, fueled by disinformation around COVID-19’s origins, drove a dramatic spike in hate crimes against members of the Asian and Asian American community.

It all invoked memories of two events when Cho was in college: the brutal beating of Rodney King by four LAPD officers — all acquitted of their assault and excessive force charges — and the murder of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old Black girl shot by Du Soon Ja after the Korean shop owner accused the girl of stealing. Combined, the incidents ignited five days of unrest in 1992, during which more than 2,000 people were injured and over 50 killed. There was a line between those five days and the 2020 uprising Cho says he couldn’t ignore — not for himself or for his children. [More at Source]

Feature: John Cho for the LA Times


Written by Mouza on March 12

Some of the most enduring images from the Los Angeles riots are the photos of armed Korean shopkeepers patrolling the rooftops of liquor stores and laundromats to deter rioters.

In some Korean Americans, those images inspire pride, and in others, shame. The actor John Cho, he told me, felt mostly panic and fear. Then 19 years old and a student at UC Berkeley, he could see how the images were being interpreted and worried that they would spark more hostility toward Koreans.

In his new young adult novel that he wrote with Sarah Suk, “Troublemaker,” his goal was to start with those photos, and zoom out.

“We wanted to start at that stereotypical image of the rooftop Koreans. Our thinking was, ‘What if we could humanize this person? What would that look like?’”

Though written for a young adult audience, Cho’s novel is a sincere attempt to make sense of an event that we are still trying to understand. This year is the 30th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, and though we are still trying, I don’t think we have fully made sense of what happened. In 2017, for the first time since the riots, a Loyola Marymount University poll found that 6 out of 10 Angelenos surveyed believed that another uprising is likely within the next five years.

Cho doesn’t see himself as an expert author or historian on the subject. But now, at 49, he is a father too, wrestling for the words to explain an event that his own parents have always discussed in hushed Korean behind cupped hands.

So in the summer of 2020, as the George Floyd protests broke out and anti-Asian violence was on the rise, Cho decided to write a book about the Los Angeles riots. He describes it as the book he wished his younger self could have read.

The novel follows a Korean American boy named Jordan trying to reach his father, a liquor store owner, on the night that the riots break out. His goal is to deliver a gun he found at home to his father so that he can help protect the store. The narrative locates itself around the violent chaos of that night, but never inside of it, turning down the volume to focus on the relationship between Jordan and his father. [More at Source]

Coverage: John Cho on The Late Late Show with James Corden


Written by Mouza on November 19

John stopped by The Late Late Show with James Corden a couple of days ago where he got to talk about Cowboy Bebop and his injury during filming.

 


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