A Night With Two of Korea's Most Influential Tastemakers: Designer Lie Sang Bong and Singer Eric Nam

Waves of Korean pop lovers filled the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts last Saturday evening for a special occasion called "Inception: Hello New York!" It was an opportunity to experience cultural networking produced and hosted by a non-profit organization called MO’IM, which is known for helping students connect with each other through its entertainment-focused events.

Organized and planned by alumni from schools such as Columbia, Harvard, NYU, Yale, Princeton, Duke, UPenn, Parsons, SVA, FIT, Pratt, and Baruch, the glamorous night opened with a networking reception, followed with open mic sessions by fashion designer Lie Sang Bong and singer/entertainer Eric Nam (who also performed three songs afterwards), and ended with an afterparty at Circle Nightclub.

Inception was an exceptional welcoming event because it was both informative and captivating. By having such eminent celebrities talk to a student audience about their own personal experiences as a Korean in the U.S was remarkable. Eric Nam also engaged with the audience by performing and participating in active games, such as Charades. The event itself was useful especially for international students, because a chunk of the night was devoted to tips for them, as well as guidelines on how to live in NYC. Not only did it provide a personalized experience for the attendees, but also helped explain the cultural phenomenon of Korean pop.

Speakers at the event included Korean-Americans  from all over the country, including NYU KISO (Korean International Student Organization) students, and as mentioned- the distinguished Korean designer Lie Sang Bong, Korean-American singer-songwriter and entertainer Eric Nam.

Nam is a popular K-Pop singer-songwriter and entertainer in South Korea. He has worked with celebrities such as Robert Downey Jr., and Chloe Moretz. A graduate of Boston College, he became famous by placing in the top 5 of a reality talent show entitled, “Birth of A Great Star 2”, and was soon signed to B2M entertainment company. He first shared about his experience living in the States as a Korean, then sang three of his most popular songs, including 'Heaven's Door.'

He talked about his experiences as an entertainer and gave advice to students who were interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.

“I do MC events at Korea...It’s been a really interesting but difficult process. I think the biggest misconception about the entertainment industry is that it is glamorous. And in a way it is, but what the public doesn’t know is the hard work behind it, the politics," he explained. "At the end of the day it is a job too. There’s stress and complications that arise along the way… But, over the past three years that I’ve been in this industry, I’ve come to realize that entertainment is in need of really passionate people. We need people who are believers, to be able to build this community.. who believe in creating effective content."

He urged anyone interested in entertainment to take a leap of faith and just go for it. "Don’t be afraid to take risks, reach out to those around you, and really dive into whatever it is you want to do," he told attendees. "Do it with love and purpose, and that’s what’s going to get you there and inspire people.”

The other guest speaker, Lie Sang Bong, is currently one of Korea’s most distinguished fashion designers. He began his career creating couture garments at his atelier in Seoul, then later expanded his brand and business to Paris Fashion Week in 2002. After 12 years of showing in Paris, his collection premiered at New York Fashion Week with his Fall-Winter 2014 collection. His work continues to receive critical praise and has been feature in publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar. He has dressed notable celebrities such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga.

Sang Bong also talked about what he thinks it means for people to “explore themselves” and gave students advice on how to learn about their interests and passions.

“Take the time to sit at your desk, and just write down the things you are good at. Who your friends are, what food you like, what your favorite color is…. Or, even write down the things you don’t like. Just take some time to explore yourself," he said. :We must take advantage of the resources around us too. I realized too late that I had so many wonderful friends, parents just right next door. I looked too far...I learned that to start, we must preserve and build good friendships near us, then branch off from there. For students, you will meet many classmates with majors or concentrations different from your own. Be willing to listen and understand their perspectives first. I had to do the same when I travelled around the world and talked to different designers and producers.” At the end of the event, it was clear that cultural boundaries don't make a difference when you stick to your goals - whether it be entertainment or fashion (or anything, really). Now excuse us while we go listen to K-Pop over and over again and wait until Sang Bong's next experience in NYFW.


Link to Lie Sang Bong’s Website:


Link to NYU KISO’s website:



Image credit: Eclectic Mag (1); Soompi (1)