Warning: Spoilers ahead for Netfix’s Bling Empire. Kim Lee’s dad on Bling Empire on Netflix was a mystery to her for most of her life. Kim is one of eight main cast members on Bling Empire, Netflix’s new reality TV show about a circle of real crazy, rich Asians in Los Angeles.
The show follow the cast—which also includes Kevin Kreider, Christine Chiu, Anna Shay, Kane Lim, Cherie Chan, Kim Mi Li and Jamie Xie—as they party, shop, fight and sort out their personal relationships. Most of Kim’s storyline in season 1 centers around the search for her dad, who left her after his divorce from her mom, Kimmy, when she was 8 years old. As Kim explains on Bling Empire, her dad, Tony, asked Kim if she wanted to live with him or her mom after their divorce. Not knowing that she wouldn’t see her dad again, Kim chose her mom and her dad left for good. Kim went on to live the next couple decades of her life her mom and stepdad, screenwriter Daniel Segal.
With the help of her friend, Kevin, who is also looking for his birth parents, Kim hires a private investigator to look for her dad. The investigator discovers that Kim’s dad moved to South Carolina and remarried with another woman. The investigator also gives Kim her dad’s last known address and his phone number. When Kim and Kevin call the number, they’re left on voicemail. Kim then hesitates whether she’s meant to look for her dad, which leads Kevin and her other friend, Kane, to travel to South Carolina in secret to see if they can find out more about her father.
When they arrive in South Carolina, Kevin and Kane go to the address that the investigator gave them. When no one is home, the two knock on the neighbor’s house, who tells them that a Vietnamese man named Michael lives next door. The neighbor also tells them that Michael works at a nail salon. Suspecting that Michael is Kim’s dad Tony, Kevin and Kane go to the nail salon to talk to Michael. The man at the nail salon tells them that he isn’t Tony and doesn’t know Kim after Kevin and Kane show him her picture. Defeated, Kevin and Kane go back to their hotel room, where they receive a call from Tony’s phone number that the private investigator gave them. The person on the other side of the line is Tony’s new wife, who tells Kevin and Kane that Kim’s dad died two years ago from kidney issues and a heart attack. The wife also tells them Tony loved Kim and never stopped thinking about her.
When Kevin and Kane told Kim this when they returned to Los Angeles, Kim teared up and mourned the loss of her father. “I feel like a little part of me is missing now,” she said. “When you lose a parent, it’s never going to be the same. It’s a different type of pain.” Kim’s mother said, “There were so many times, I think about him. I just wish him well. But I had a feeling he not here in this world anymore.” In the finale of Bling Empire, Kim talks to her friend Christine and gives her the advice to repair her relationship with her parents before it’s too late.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kevin explained why he and Kane looked for Kim’s father without telling her. “I also wanted to go to South Carolina to go find Kim’s dad with or without her permission and Kane was really hesitant and said, ‘No, we don’t want to step on her toes,’ and I’m like, ‘Fuck it. Let’s just do it,'” he said. “Everything in my body and my soul told me to do it, and trust that everything was going to work out. We went there not knowing anything. It was literally just get a flight, get an Airbnb, and go, and we’ll figure everything out from there. And everything just worked out the way it was supposed to.”
Bling Empire is available to stream on Netflix.