How TikTok's YourKoreanDad Nick Cho Became Everyone's Dad
Cho says he didn’t anticipate the kind of impact they’d have. Cho gets several emotional messages and duets because of his videos.
Nick Cho is not just YourKoreanDad, he’s ours now. His sweet TikTok videos hit a nerve for so many of his more than 1.5 million followers.
Even though Nick Cho’s videos are upbeat, light and "peak dad," Cho says he didn’t anticipate the kind of impact they’d have, which is apparent because of the emotional messages and duets he receives on the platform.
“I think that anyone deserves and needs that feeling of unconditional love, whether it's from a parent or from a parental figure or from anyone. And when you don't get that and when you're not getting it consistently, because maybe you lost a parent or you have parents, but they're not really there for you in the way that you need, then that leaves a wound. It's a traumatic experience,” Cho told Inside Edition Digital.
“It doesn't mean that we meet each other's needs," he continued. "So much of the response I get really is that there is that longing for unconditional love and just to feel nurtured and being taken care of. Apparently that is a thing that is in high demand, but is a need that's not really being met out there, not nearly as much as people need. I'll get a little better. I'm usually better at these things."
Cho’s TikTok videos consist of several everyday encounters: going to the supermarket, going to the airport and even longboarding.
However, he always adds a loving touch along with his cheery intro, “Hi! I’m Your Korean Dad!” The introduction is always accompanied by either a head pat or Korean finger hearts.
It’s easy to understand why so many people connect with the California resident.
He says his inspiration comes while he’s out running those errands, and not necessarily his own childhood.
“I think that I had a fairly challenging childhood, being a child of immigrants and an immigrant myself, growing up as a Korean American in Northern Virginia in the 70s and 80s, the way that I did," Cho said. "And as with a lot of folks in America, I experienced a lot of racism and a lot of difficult times growing up, like people didn't understand. People didn't know what Korea was most of the time back then, which nowadays I think can feel surprising. But I spent a lot of time alone. But ultimately, I feel like I was lucky to be able to really spend that time just experiencing what was going on, what was going on with me and with others."
Cho's experiences helped shape him into the empathetic and caring person to whom so many people feel drawn. It's a validating feeling for someone who thrives off of building connections.
“I think that I just grew up with a lot of feelings of wanting to just reach out and connect with other people, whether they were friends or family and really get to know them," he said. "I'm the kind of person who, as soon as we sit down, I'll just start pouring out my inner feelings, and mostly not just to dump on people, but because I really want to connect in that way.”
Cho's own teenage daughters, who are 15 and 17, help him film the TikTok videos, are acutely aware of what makes their dad special.
“I think for them, my daughters have said for years, for a few years now, that they have friends who have parents who aren't always there for them in the way that they need, and that they appreciate that I at least try to be there, even if I can't be there 100%. I'm not perfect," he said. "And so seeing my TikTok, 'Your Korean Dad' persona and hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of people reacting to it in the way that they do, they understand. They understand. I don't think they get jealous. But I try not to give them too much to be jealous about, but they get me in real life.”
Even though Cho says many people compare him to Mister Rogers and he counts him among his heroes, Cho still doesn’t quite understand how it is that he's able to deeply connect with viewers.
“I don't totally understand how I'm helping, but maybe that's part of the deal. Maybe it's that I'm trying to sort of be the purest form of myself, in terms of how I express love and affection and nurturing, as a father and as a friend in that way, and how people receive it," Cho said. "Sometimes we have our own intentions, but really the challenge is just living your life every day in a way that helps other people and doesn't hurt them. Both those things at the same time. And I guess that's hard, because we're all just trying to survive out there.
"And so I guess what I'm putting out is meeting people's needs in just the right sort of way. And whether I understand it or not, I'm just grateful."
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