IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Beef' star David Choe slammed after podcast detailing 'rapey behavior' resurfaces

Social media users are questioning Choe's casting in the Netflix show, pointing to a 2014 podcast in which he said he was “a successful rapist.”
David Choe as Isaac in episode 101 of "Beef" on Netflix.
David Choe as Isaac in episode 101 of "Beef."Andrew Cooper / Netflix

Warning: This story contains graphic language about sexual assault.

Following the buzzy release of Netflix’s hit comedy drama “Beef,” one of its stars, David Choe, has drawn controversy for an incident he talked about on a podcast he was hosting in 2014.

Clips of the podcast, which feature him telling a story that has been criticized as rape and sexual assault — but that he later walked back as a fabrication on his part — have been widely shared since “Beef” debuted last week. 

During his now-defunct podcast, DVDASA, Choe said that he performed sex acts in front of a massage therapist named Rose and forced her to do so as well after she had said no, among other instances that he labeled as “rapey behavior.” 

Choe, who plays Isaac on the Netflix show and is also known for his graffiti artistry, said during the podcast episode, viewed by NBC News, “So I go back to the chill method of: You never ask first, you just do it, get in trouble and then pay the price later.”

Neither Choe nor Netflix responded to NBC News’ request for comment. But following the controversial podcast in 2014, the artist released a statement, denying any truth to the story, saying 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. 

He described the mission of the podcast at the time as, “We create stories and tell tales … It’s my version of reality, it’s art that sometimes offends people. I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not!”

Many social media users are questioning his casting and pointing to specific quotes in the past clips, such as Choe saying that he is “a successful rapist.”

At the time, the comments prompted criticisms from activists and organizations including Advancing Justice — LA, Center for the Pacific Asian Family, and South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency, who deemed what Choe had described an instance of “coercion” and an example of sexual violence.  

“Choe’s story reflects the harsh reality that men and women alike continue to believe and perpetuate the dangerous myth that coerced sexual activity is not considered assault or rape. By legal definition, you are committing an act of sexual assault when you do not receive consent,” the organizations wrote in a statement. “Based on Choe’s telling, the masseuse’s repeated protests, in addition to his physical coercion, indicate that she was not consenting to the acts he requested.”

While Choe addressed the incident after the podcast’s release, the issue came up again in 2017 after a mural he painted was vandalized. Among the messages tagged on it was the word “rapist.” Choe released a statement on Instagram following the incident, apologizing for the episode and writing that he has “ZERO history of sexual assault.”

“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,” he said. “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.”