Sang H. Cho, president of cable network Mnet America, said in a statement released to TheWrap that the actors’ failed contract negotiations bring “to the forefront an ongoing ‘lack of diversity in Hollywood’ issue in general, and in particular for Asian-American actors.”
Cho — whose channel is available in roughly 20 million U.S. households and is the first national, 24-hour cable network aimed at Asian-Americans — expressed dismay over the fact that a show set in Hawaii is losing the only two Asian-American performers on its core cast.
“Now that they are gone, there are no other Asian-Americans featured in the show,” he said. “I think this alone speaks volumes about under-representation of Asian-Americans on CBS.”
CBS said last week that it offered “large and significant salary increases” to Kim and Park in an attempt to retain the two cast members, who have played Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua respectively since the show’s launch in September 2010.
According to Cho, this claim from the network “speaks to gross disparity in [Kim and Park’s] financial compensation.”
“If [CBS’ claim] is the case, how grossly underpaid were they before the offer of this raise?” he said. “It’s almost as if Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are being told, ‘You should be happy with just the opportunity.'”
Cho’s comments follow the Council of Korean Americans (CKA) asking its constituents last week to place phone calls to two CBS execs to voice complaints over the negotiations.
Kim wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that he and the network “weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue … The path to equality is rarely easy.”