In an essay for Variety, the Riverdale star reflected on his Korean American identity in the wake of "recent horrors."
In the essay, he recalls suppressing his Korean identity to try and "fit in" — particularly at school. "Comments from friends about my house smelling funny because of my mother’s home-cooked Korean meals and kimchi caused me to carry shame. At school, I never learned about my Korean American history — or Asian American history at all."
"I’ve realized that I never stood up for my Korean heritage," he wrote. "I’ve willfully ignored the racism and microaggressions directed towards me and my people. I failed to defend my heritage in fear of retribution. And now I can’t help but wonder what I did to contribute to the violence against Asian Americans."
"I will no longer remain silent about my lived experience," he continued. "The hate crimes that have swept the country have forced me to realize how important the platform I have is and the responsibility that comes with it."
"To be honest, I don’t know where my voice lives in all of this, but my new intention is to challenge this very broken system. I do know that I want to use media and entertainment as advocacy. I want to tell inclusive, representative stories. I want to reconcile my identity and come to terms with who I am, despite the pain."