How They Met: award-winning playwright Ins Choi and his wife, Mari


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Ins Choi’s hit play Kim’s Convenience returns to Soulpepper on May 23

As an actor and playwright, Ins Choi has performed in front of hundreds of people. He certainly isn’t camera shy or afraid of putting himself out there. But stage fright wouldn’t elude him the first time he met his then future wife, Mari. It took two chance meetings before he worked up the courage to talk to her.

Now, after eight years of marriage, he and his wife continue to deepen their relationship. The couple lives a hectic but playful life with their two children in their Toronto home. Here, Ins Choi tells us how they met.

The meeting
I had met her before at her birthday, but I was too chicken to go and talk to her. Years later at a mutual friend’s wedding, I saw her again. She had made the wedding cake, and I was a late guest. I thought, “OK, I have got to talk to her. I have to make a move.” So I sat down in front of her, and I made her laugh and that was it. We talked and talked until we looked around and the reception was over. They were cleaning up. We had missed everything, and I realized I needed to see her again. 

The proposal
After six months, I knew she was the one. So I bought a ring, a really simple band because she didn’t want a diamond ring. I carried the ring around in my pocket for months. Timing is everything. [One night] we got into this heated argument, [but] when I got home I knew it felt right. I figured if that was the worst part of our relationship and I still wanted to marry her, then that was a good sign. That night I made this framed photo of us. It had three pictures in it and our story. In the morning, I went over to her house, played a CD I had made for her and began to read the story of us. She smiled, and I got the ring and brought it to her. I was on the side of her bed, kneeling, when I asked her to marry me. She started crying and said yes. That afternoon, we went over to my parents’ house and started planning for the wedding.

The big day
Due to my career and schedule, we had to get married in three months. I called in a lot of favours from artist friends. We got married on March 12, 2005, at my father’s church, the Korean Bethel Church near College and Dufferin. 

How their lives have changed
The kids changed everything. We don’t go out as much! We have two kids — a daughter and a son. Our daughter is Poem and she is five, and our son is River and he is two. Because of my career, we’ve moved around a lot. Our lives are always moving and changing. We’ve never been in the same place for a year.

Secret to their success
Not having a car means that we have to walk everywhere together. When we need something, we go together. If we had a car, it would get done faster, but then we wouldn’t have that time together. Since we don’t own a house, we get to spend more time together. If we had a mortgage, then I would have to work longer hours, and then we would never see each other. Why would we want to do that? So, the secret to our relationship is not owning a car or a house.

Relationship advice
It’s about timing. When I met her, I was OK with being single. I wasn’t desperate or looking for someone to fulfill my life. At least for me, it was timed really well.

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