Posted : 2013-03-26 17:13
Updated : 2013-03-26 17:13

'Psy has helped promote hallyu'

Lee Kyu-chang, head of Kino33 Entertainment, speaks about bridging cultures in a recent interview at his Seoul office in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul. / Korea Times photo by Kim Ji-soo

Kino33 CEO has ‘tall order' for Psy, hallyu leaders

By Kim Ji-soo

Lee Kyu-chang, head of entertainment agency Kino33 Entertainment, likened the past three years in Korea to graduate school. Tuition was free, in the form of the three years he put in. But the degree that the freelance producer received was a sudden jolt of recognition and responsibility after appearing on a talk show about his bridging role in Psy's success in the United States.

"All I did was appear on a talk show in January to talk about what I do and what I usually talk about, and soon afterwards, I was getting emails from young people in their teens and 20s telling me how they were encouraged by what I said and that I am their role model," Lee said in a recent interview.

"I was moved by their feedback. But I began to feel responsibility as well," he said.

The former employee of Sony Pictures Entertainment was largely working as a freelance content producer when the American talent manager Scooter Braun called him on July 30, 2012 and asked about "Psy." Braun is the guy who discovered Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, and he was interested in Psy's song "Gangnam Style." Lee thought bigger.

"When I saw Psy's video, I thought that he had daringly made a funny video, a very interactive one," Lee, 35, said. He recognized talent. So Lee asked singer Yoon Do-hyun to introduce him to Psy. Lee then persuaded Braun to take both Psy the entertainer and his song to the U.S. market.

"I put extra effort in it, because I am Korean and also because Braun called."

"The dance move was catchy ... a grandmother or a young child can do the horse-ride dance and still not look funny."

Lee spent considerable time going back and forth between Braun, Psy and Psy's entertainment agency YG Entertainment. He had to calm the three agents who probably weren't so sure back then how far they would come. There were some differences in how the two sides did business.

"I noticed that Koreans don't like to draw up contracts wherein America, it's all written down in a contract," Lee said.

More subtly, Lee believes that an attempt to understand the differences can facilitate cooperation, just like the Korean-style drinking party Psy and Braun had in Korea Town in Los Angeles in August.

Korean rapper Psy performs on a stage in Seoul Plaza in this Oct.4, 2012 file photo after he returned home to thunderous welcome after the worldwide success of his song "Gangnam Style." / Korea Times file

Perhaps it was kind of bridging cultures, something he seemed prepared for.

Born in Seoul in 1978, Lee and his family moved to Washington when he was two years old. After graduating from the University of Washington in just three years as a major in business and drama, he entered the Hollywood establishment by inviting himself to a 2001 Academy Awards ceremony. With chutzpah and innovation, he started working for Sony Pictures in 2001. After working in marketing and distribution, and then as a Korea adviser, he left Sony Pictures in 2011, becoming a freelance content producer. He established Kino33 Entertainment in 2012.

His interest in the Korean mass culture markets was with the film "Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War" (2005).

He believes YouTube was pivotal in Psy's success, and the demonstration of his video in July at a Las Vegas game tournament by GOM Player CEO after Psy's YouTube was released in the United States was instrumental.

"A lot of people helped, and it is time that Psy." With Psy's new song soon due, Lee had tall orders for the star rapper.

"He's now got the responsibility to take hallyu to another level. That means he could have more Korean talent participate in the making of his new song, the shooting of the new video. Psy's voice won't be the final one, but his U.S. representatives are bound to listen," Lee said. He extended this tall order for other Korean stars or star directors such as director Kim Ji -woon who worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Last Stand" (2003). Lee spoke emphatically and in detail on how to jumpstart and use the networks to extend hallyu, showing why he is known as the guy with the golden network.

He sees the future of hallyu not in the girl group or boy bands that dominate the current K-pop scene.

"I think for Korean entertainment to really take off on the world stage, it has to be a one-man show," Lee said. "Also, a collaborative work among performers will have potential, like the collaborative piece put forth by Psy and MC Hammer." The two performed a mash-up of "Gangnam Style" and the '90s hit "2 Legit 2 Quit" at the American Music Awards ceremony last November.

A collaborative work can expand the Korean music market, Lee said. It also has the advantage of evoking respective impressions and memories of different generations.

Lee currently has a project titled "Seoul Searching," which is about Korean Americans who revisit their homeland and will start filming in April. Lee is the main producer. He is also passionate about producing total entertainment — movie content, movie sound tracks, and videos.

"I believe I can play a certain role in promoting Korea and Korean content," he said.

관련 한글 기사

'한류를 이끈 싸이, 앞으로도 이끌어나가야 할 책임 있다'

이규창, 키노33 엔터테인먼트 대표는  2살때 이민간 미국교포로서, 소니픽쳐스와 여러 할리우드 인맥을 통해 인더스트리 업계에선 잘 알려진 인물이었다. 하지만, 일반 사람들은 몰랐다, 그게 그가 1월에 한 토크쇼에서 나와서 싸이와 스쿠터 브라운과 YG 엔터테인먼트를  오가면서,  강남스타일이라는 곡만이 아니고, 싸이라는 엔터테이너를 통채로 미국시장에 진출시키는 과정을 설명하기 전이다. 토크쇼에 나간 후, 이규창이 싸이 미국진출의 조력자라는 것을 모르는 사람은 없었다. 10대, 20대들이 그에게 이멜을 보내고, 인생에 롤 모델로 삼을 것이라는 언급에 그는 감동을 받았다.

그리고 책임감도  느끼게 됐다.

지금 싸이는 부인할수 없는 세계적인 스타이기에 한국의 엔터테인먼트 사업에 조력자가 될 역할이라고 했다.

많은 사람들이 싸이에게 도움을 주었던 것 처럼, 싸이가 신곡 발표, 공연,  뮤직 비디오를 만들때 최대한  한류 종사자들은 많이 시키는 방법으로 말이다.

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