'Your Korean Dad' TikTok Is the Heartwarming Breath of Fresh Air We All Need Right Now
Turns out you don't have to know how to do intricate dance moves, have a distinct "persona," or even share tips on being a millionaire to become famous on TikTok. You could just be a normal parent who shares clips of yourself doing everyday tasks like buying snacks at a convenience store, going through a car wash, or eating grapes. That's what a Bay Area dad of two named Nick Cho has proven with his "Your Korean Dad" videos.
The coffee entrepreneur, who has two teen girls, now has 1.5 million followers on the popular platform. Inspired by his sweet, down-to-earth vibe, Cho gets frequently comments from followers like, "I just cried and cried and I don’t know why" and "Adopt me please!"
Cho didn't exactly set out to achieve social media fame. After his daughters encouraged him to create TikTok content to support his coffee business, he decided he wanted his videos to be different from his day job and to focus on who he is as a father. "I wanted something that was more of a diversion, and I think for a lot of us parents, there's that question of who am I as a parent to my children versus as an individual," he explains. "People think of me as a coffee expert, but I liked the idea of embracing the dad thing first and foremost."
He's been reflecting over the past few years on what diversity and multiculturalism means in America, how Korean-Americans but BIPOC and other people experience microaggressions and stereotyping, and the pace at which progress is happening (surely, but slowly). To that end, Cho felt it was important to highlight that he's a Korean dad, as perhaps that could lead to "opening people's hearts and minds."
"It’s our responsibility to make things better for ourselves and subsequent generations, and if we don't, it's on us and our lack of imagination or creativity or will power," he notes.
Cho also consciously opted to say he's "your" Korean dad to personalize the experience for his followers.
And that's exactly what ended up happening. After posting a video in which he went to Walgreen's for some snacks and mused about how a gazillion varieties of M&Ms have supplanted basic plain or peanut, he was met with what he calls "heartfelt, heartbreaking emotional responses." Cho was flooded with comments like, "Is this what it's like to have a dad?" or "My dad would never have given me this kind of attention."
"I was like, 'What just happened?' That was not my intention, my plan, my expectation. I was caught off-guard," recalls Cho.
Ever since then, the coffee entrepreneur has been flooded with similar remarks. "People of all ages are giving voice to their pain and their feelings of loss," he says. "It’s really so amazing and wonderful and terrible and heartbreaking."
Cho says he's also gotten many comments from people who are parents or plan to have kids and say he has helped them think about what kind of parent they want to be. And if the dad of two could boil what it means to be a good dad down to one thing it would be trust, he says. "Trust is something you earn through every word and action and choice that you make and that it is very fragile," he says. "And I always ask myself, 'Am I doing right by my kids?'"
Judging from the warm, effusive reception the doting dad has received online, it would seem the answer to that question is a resounding yes. And no matter where TikTok fame leads, Cho plans to keep asking himself questions that will help him to better understand himself and better the world through his work. "I'm still learning," he says. "I hope to learn."