‘Spa Night’ Explores the Story of a Closeted Korean American Teen


Spa Night is not your typical coming-out film, said writer-director Andrew Ahn of his Kickstarter film.

The film follows the story of David Cho, a closeted 18-year-old Korean American teen, living in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles. After his family’s business collapses, David secretly takes a job at a Korean spa instead of attending SAT classes. There, he shockingly finds a world he never knew existed — an underground culture of gay sex. Sparked by the discovery, he explores his sexuality at the expense of his family life.

With his Kickstarter campaign, Ahn hopes to create a film that humanizes the often polarized story of what it’s like to be gay and Korean American. He also doesn’t plan on including scenes that may seem cliché, which means David will not come out to his family. So there won’t be any scenes of screaming and yelling between the conservative parents and their gay son. Instead, the goal of the film is to depict a character who accepts himself rather than someone who seeks approval.

“David comes out to himself,” Ahn said in the Kickstarter video that explains his film. “He gains a stronger understanding of who he is. I want to make this film because homosexuality has been swept under the rug [in] the Korean American community.”

In 2012, Ahn came out to his parents by famously casting them in his 2012 film Dol, which was a story about a gay first-generation Korean American. Ahn asked his real parents to play the protagonist’s parents in the film before breaking the real news to them.

“At its core, Spa Night is about growing up,” Ahn said in another interview with Sundance.org. “It’s about becoming your own person. We all grow up with different expectations of our futures that come from outside sources: family, community, society. But there’s always a moment when you can finally hear yourself above the noise … This is the moment that Spa Night explores.”

Ahn added that his goal is to create a film that will encourage more Korean Americans to openly engage in conversations about homosexuality in their community.

“People don’t want to talk about it.” Ahn said. “People don’t want to talk about people like me. And I don’t want this part of who I am to be ignored.”

The Kickstarter for Spa Night ends on November 6th, 2014.