Does KIA Have an Axe to Grind With ‘The Grudge’?

John Cho is next to the child from The Grudge, who is sitting on a Kia in front of Kia Motors, which has been in live auto news recently.

Lovers of the psychological horror film genre are likely to be familiar with the Japanese film franchise Ju-On. Translated roughly to ‘curse grudge’, the 1998 film revolved around a cursed home whose phantoms would torment subsequent residents. It would spawn a series of sequels, off-shoot media and a widely successful Americanized version of the franchise. That said, it all started here:

Some of you might be old enough to remember the original American remake of Ju-On which was re-titled The Grudge and starred (a post-Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Sarah Michelle Gellar in the role of an American living in Japan, haunted by a cursed and vengeful spirit. Here’s a spine-tingling reminder of the 2004 film in case you need it:

In the new remake, Korean American actor John Cho has taken the lead, reminding us that he has a far wider acting range than we witnessed in the stoner-centric Harold and Kumar series, capable of doing more than chant, “MILF!” as he’d done in the main range of American Pie films. Take a look at what is being a ‘twisted new vision’:

Now, some of you may now be riddled with concern that your 2-in-1 shampoo / conditioner could cause a phantom hand to emerge from the back of your skull. Others might be reluctant to clean their sink and tub drains. Others may steer clear of cats, or simply do everything possible to avoid small, mute Asian children covered inexplicably in white makeup. We’re not here to judge. What we ARE here to do is fill you in on the reason why the biggest grudge of all might be held by automakers Hyundai and KIA.

According to insider sources, in an effort to expand visibility of their brand, the Korean automakers had approached co-production companies Ghost House Pictures, Screen Gems, and Stage 6 Films to express their interest in exploring some cross-marketing synergies and corporate sponsorship. And yes, a large part of the motivation behind their interest came from their desire to highlight that a Korean-American actor was taking the lead.

That said, John Cho ain’t nobody’s bitch. The 47-year old actor (who succeeded George Takei in the role of Haikaru Sulu, in the rebooted Star Trek film series) has a very respectful relationship with his heritage. On one hand, he’s shown immense pride and embraced the privilege of playing characters of various Asian descents. But he’s also distinguished himself by winning roles that had not been originally conceived for an Asian actor, breaking stereotypes as the first Asian American actor to star in a Hollywood thriller, as well as the first to play a romantic lead in a U.S. network sitcom.

While no formal statement was issued, sources close to Cho told The Lemon, “John has too much personal and professional integrity to be anyone’s token Asian guy.” We reached out to KIA’s Board of Executives for comment, but …let’s be honest…they’re a bunch of super-smart Asian guys who aren’t even close to dumb enough to talk to us.

The Grudge starring John Cho and directed by Nicholas Pesce was released to theaters on January 3rd, 2020. Also, be warned: John Cho won’t chant ‘MILF’ for you.


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