What’s Going on With Beef’s David Choe?

David Choe plays Isaac in the Netflix hit Beef. Photo: Andrew Cooper/Netflix

A renewed controversy comes during what might have been a celebratory week for the stars of Netflix’s newest hit, Beef. With its stellar reviews and dynamite cast (including Minari’s Steven Yeun and comedian Ali Wong), Beef captured the hearts of TV lovers, but now, many are wondering how to deal with a beloved show propping up a castmate with alarming past behavior. Shortly after the show’s debut, clips of David Choe, who plays Isaac, detailing his “rapey behavior” were shared online. The clips were from a 2014 episode of his podcast DVDASA (which stands for “Double Vaginal, Double Anal, Sensitive Artist,” according to a press release) where he described the rape of a masseuse in graphic detail. Shortly after the episode premiered, the actor and visual artist claimed in a statement that the alleged incident was made up. His statement didn’t stop the public from wondering why he’s continued to work in both the film and art industries since the incident, as the latest controversy proves. Below, everything we know about the conversation around David Choe.

What did David Choe say on his 2014 podcast?

In 2014, he told a horrific story about raping a masseuse on an episode of his DVDASA podcast. “You raped … allegedly,” his co-host Asa Akira asked him after he told the story on the pod, per BuzzFeed News. “I just want to make it clear that I admit that that’s rapey behavior,” Choe replied after describing an act of sexual assault in detail. “But I am not a rapist.” He went on to say that the “thrill of possibly going to jail” gave him an erection. His co-host continued to press him on the matter. “You’re basically telling us that you’re a rapist right now, and the only way to get your dick hard is rape,” Akira said. He replied, “Yeah.” The YouTube video and episode of the podcast are no longer public, although some clips have been floating around TikTok, and it’s unclear when Choe or his team took it down.

What was the response?

A month after the episode first dropped, Choe alleged that he was just detailing an imagined rape, not a real one. “I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist,” he wrote in a statement at the time. “It sucks. Especially because I am not one. I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered.” In 2017, he shared a similar statement on his Instagram.

Did David Choe try to scrub the resurfaced clips from Twitter?

Choe might be attempting to shut down his critics. Twitter removed the podcast clips on the grounds that they were posted without the copyright holder’s “consent.” (There is an irony in the language choice somewhere here.) “On behalf of the David Young Choe Foundation … I would like to submit the required information to remove copyright infringing media,” the email notice read. “We would like to have these videos removed immediately.” Twitter sent the copyright notices to journalists Meecham Whitson Meriweather and Aura Bogado, who tweeted screenshots of the email on April 17. Choe signed the request to scrub the videos, according to the documents reviewed by Vulture. The duo were among the first to post the video after the controversy surrounding Choe’s comments was renewed last week. Vulture reached out to Choe and Netflix for comment. He’s not only earning criticism from the internet — he’s also earning the attention of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “Abuse of copyright takedown procedures to censor journalists is a serious and growing problem,” the nonprofit wrote in a tweet on April 17, essentially calling the copyright strike an effort to censor journalists. “It’s also a preview of a post Section 230 world where platforms fearing liability for user posts remove anything even alleged to be defamatory.”

What else has he been in other than Beef?

Beef is not Choe’s first project since his podcast, which ended in 2015. He appeared as a “Postmates Guy” in Better Things in 2019 and then in a season-one episode of The Mandalorian in 2020. In 2021, FX premiered The Choe Show, which focused on his art and candid conversations with his famous friends and guests like Will Arnett and Rainn Wilson. During press for that series, Choe told the New York Times he was inspired to tell the story, which he still claimed was made up, because of a “morbid curiosity to feel an external response to the internal shame I felt.” The actor first rose to fame as a street artist, known for his lewd murals and “dirty” painting style, often using unconventional surfaces or blood as paint. He also worked on a few shows with Vice.

Has Beef addressed it?

As of now, Beef remains the second-most-watched show on Netflix. Choe has not released a new statement since his “rapey” comments resurfaced, though his removal of the videos is a sign that he probably knows people are upset. Although Choe has yet to release an updated statement, Beef’s series creator Lee Sung Jin and stars Ali Wong and Steven Yeun gave a statement about the “undeniably hurtful and extremely disturbing” fabricated story to Vanity Fair. “We do not condone this story in any way, and we understand why this has been so upsetting and triggering,” they say, before attesting to Choe’s growth since 2014. “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.”

What’s Going on With Beef’s David Choe?