The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer


Viet Thanh Nguyen

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Sympathizer can help.

James Yoon Character Analysis

A Korean-American actor in his mid-thirties who plays the older brother, Binh, in The Hamlet. He dislikes the young actor playing his younger brother, Danny Boy, because the boy tends to upstage him. Yoon is the best-known actor on the set, an “Asian Everyman” who has worked mostly in television. People tend to recognize him without knowing his name. He has “generically handsome features” and an overpowering smile. He is best known for a highly popular and recurring television commercial selling Sheen, a brand of dishwashing soap. The slogan that he utters in the commercial is “Confucius say, Clean with Sheen!” Otherwise, he has had small roles in films with major stars, such as Frank Sinatra, that usually involve him being killed by the lead white actor. He has an extensive death scene in The Hamlet that he hopes will lead to an Oscar nomination. Yoon is gay and, during the filming of the movie, makes a pass at the narrator. Yoon is also an alcoholic.
Get the entire The Sympathizer LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Sympathizer PDF

James Yoon Character Timeline in The Sympathizer

The timeline below shows where the character James Yoon appears in The Sympathizer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
During his torture scene, James Yoon grimaces, grunts, cries, bawls real tears, yells, shrieks, wriggles, twists, thrashes, heaves, and climaxes when... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
By the final take two hours later, Yoon is teary with pain and his face is bathed in actual sweat, mucus, vomit, and... (full context)