Greetings! We are now closing the third season of Energy Transmission. We've been to Auckland, New Zealand, and to Tokyo, Japan. We’re now lifting off to Seoul, South Korea. Happy to have you on board. Hope you enjoy the following interview and my 'energy sources'. In this monthly newsletter I explore the question “what is the culture of tomorrow?” together with those who are close to the fire. I have conversations with people I crossed paths with, or who's work inspires me and pair it with stuff we both think is worth checking out.
As I mentioned in the newsletters of the third season before, I wanted to look east. First Japan, then New Zealand and then back up to South Korea. We are finishing the season with a bang, Bill and his practice located in the cultural heart of South Korea_Seoul. He is the first real advertiser or 'mad man' I had on this 'sletter. Happy to dive into the world of creativity from an advertising perspective. And let me tell you, it's a whole different story in South Korea. Germany, please take notes. I'm very honored and happy that he took the time for a 1-hour interview in an early morning for me and late evening for him kinda session. Enjoy the issue! 🇰🇷
Dae-Hoon Bill Yom was born in Hamburg-Barmbek, in Germany. He studied Communication Design in Germany and is working in the world of advertising for 22 years now. He originated as a designer and then over the 8 years he's now been living in Korea transformed into the Chief Creative Officer of a new Jung von Matt branch there: JvM/Hangang. Named after the famous river that crosses Seoul. Before that he played a major role at Cheil Worldwide leading the Creative department there. So, Bill is a globally known advertising creative.
I wanted to know where someone like him goes to seek out inspiration, where he finds new ideas and innovation that intrigues him in any way. "My first stop always is the internet. To see this and that exhibition. But you need to find your niches. Spending the whole day on TikTok is not inspiration per se." In the real world, Bill loves to see artists, exhibitions and visits museums all over the world. It is people that really struck him with ideas, as he states "What is most inspiring to me is travelling for the job, meeting directors and other creatives and have a chat with them. Talk about ideas, exchange ideas. That's what helps me most."
Talking about people in South Korea I asked Bill what stereotype about South Korea is absolutely true. "In contemporary matters: do all Koreans look like K-pop stars? Yes, they do. Haha. Actually it's that most of the people try to reflect the overarching ideal of beauty. And that mainly is the look of the big celebrities and popstars. But it goes beyond hair, makeup and looks. If there's a trend like the Croffle (fusion of croissant and waffle), then everyone hops on it. Another stereotype might be that Koreans tend to be impatient – and yes, they are. Maybe that's why they are always on trends." Talking about trends in fashion, he told me that there's much more acceptance for seemingly more daring ways to dress up. People love to dress and are not weirdly looked at but appreciated when they try something different and new.
We went deeper down the rabbit hole of contemporary movements in street culture and started to talk about music. Bill explained "K-pop originally was a kind of one-size-fits-all, like in Germany the 'Hitparade' in the 80s. But over time the producers started developing unique ideas. In terms of sound like fatter beats and bass, but also new marketing approaches, new themes for the lyrics. That's what happened with Black Pink. Disrupting the mainstream and pave new ways." He told me that's the same with fashion. "Some designers grew up overseas and bring new impulses to Korean fashion. There can be some critics but the acceptance overall is great for new things. And you can never be overstyled here in Seoul. There is no 'Schlabberlook'."
From fashion to brands to their stores. We talked about how brands stage themselves in Seoul. "Brands like Ader Error have mind-blowing stores. The way they stage the world of the brand there is amazing to see. The brand story and its staging is very important here in Seoul. Everyone talking about 'digital first' and 'mobile', but since that is completely normal in Korea and nothing special, there is no separation of on- and offline. Everything is connected. The local experience of brands is truly and significantly important. Also for bars and restaurants, there's always a story and concept behind what you see and experience." Part of this experience is another perception and consumption of pop culture – nerdom, esports, manga is an everyday thing in South Korea.
"In Seoul, and in South Korea in general, there are magazines in every bar or café. And like the real thick ones. An i-D magazine or L'Officiel Homme for example. And you sit down and flip through all the pages while sipping your drink. There is a coffee table mag culture, but the mags stay in the cafés for all visitors. It's a mainstream thing to look at nice editorials. You can get an idea of consumer culture in Korea when browsing through the pages."
Bill told me that over the last couple of years and through the pandemic the popularity of new hobbies like Golf tripled. It was always popular over there, but now it really is a new thing where people spend their time and their money. "They want to have the perfect look when playing a Golf session." Another big hobby is cycling. "Road bikes has been a movement for more than 5 years but it exploded over the pandemic. And it won't stop. In the early mornings along the Hangang people show off their Tour-de-France-like bikes and most stylish equipment and gear. It's huge on Instagram as well!"
Koreans love to do things together. So all outdoor sports are practiced in groups. "They love to go hiking in the beautiful nature around Seoul. Fully equipped with premium outerwear. On holidays they conquer all the mountains they can here."
Thinking of the general Korean consumer culture, Bill explained that you can get an idea of it by watching a Korean TV commercial block on YouTube. "Take a look at the commercials. You will recognize that there will be some ads for masks. Over the pandemic masks became an essential fashion item. Sometimes more comfortable, but also stylish. Besides that, there is not much 'SALE SALE SALE' or '20% OFF HERE, 30% OFF THERE!' like you know from Germany. There's more brand image and outdoor brands that advertise."
"Vegan food is very slowly coming. When vegans or vegetarians come to visit me from Germany, it will be much more difficult here to find good stuff. It's another story here. We as Koreans live healthy and eat lots of vegetables, but we still love sea food and meat. Vegan here comes from a beauty side of things. To feel better when not eating meat."
In my mind, an idea of opening a nice vegan restaurant in Seoul starts sparking... who's down with me?
Before ending our (for me) late-night interview-sesh, I wanted to know what things got Bill excited lately.
"That's the must-see in terms of flagship stores and representation of a huge Korean brands where you think 'what the hell - this is amazing!' – over the last years they bring next-level interior and architecture to a commercial brand. They collaborate on a global scale but cherish their Korean heritage."
2. G DRAGON
"Even if I don't really like his music, but G DRAGON is one of the pop celebrities where I thought 'wow! this is huge!'. It's amazing where he now stands with over 21 million followers on Instagram as artist, designer, musician, muse - developing his own very unique style and his fashion brand "peaceminusone". He is a magnet for brands globally!"
"Over the last couple of years Korean directors finally receive the appreciation and applause they deserve for their mind-blowing works: socially critical topics woven into aesthetically pleasing and globally-acclaimed films. The likes of Bong Joon-ho or Park Chan-wook. Go and watch more Korean cinema!"
When I asked him this question he quickly came up with "Agility. That's what Korea is all about. You need to be flexible and fast. In everything you do. 'Agility' is the key! Adapting things, execute things, react to things – Korea is fast and open to the new. There are always critics, but in general, Korea is super agile in creating innovations."
For Bill Yom the culture of tomorrow is agility. Staying fast and flexible is the key above all!
Every month, after the interview section, I share with you some things I found on the Internet or in streets, that infused me with good vibes. These are my new energy sources:
Besides looking absolutely gorgeous this beer is something I have never seen before. As crisp + clean as the design also is the beer. As they state on their website: "Visitor is a crisp, clean, lightly hopped non-alcoholic beer. It’s also gluten-reduced. We started Visitor to create a bit of balance for anyone who's seeking it. So that you can enjoy the ritual without feeling full or tired. So that you can keep the hang going without sacrifice. And so you can share in the moment regardless of what you are—or aren't—drinking." I can not wait to get my hands on one of their sixpacks. Look how pleasing they look on a shelf. Hope to see this new US beer culture spread into the world.
Feeling hungry? Want to try something completely different? Take a look at this Taste Atlas. It's an interactive map showing you the most popular traditional dishes in each area of the world. It's the world food atlas you need in your life: "Discover local ingredients, traditional dishes & authentic restaurants." When was the last time you actually visited a website on a regular basis? Maybe that's the one.
Yeah, latest AI experiments can be kind of creepy. And I'm sure you heard of DALL-E already. It's an AI that can transform words and sentences into artful pictures. It can even use the style you wish. It's pretty accurate. Anyways, it now had a little brother called DALL-E mini that took the internet by storm the last couple of weeks. And for a small experiment this is really fun. Try play around with it - the more obscure the pictures, the more it looks like a potential album cover art work. The meme potential is high with this one!
JOJI - Glimpse of Us
This song is beautiful. So beautiful. One of my favorites from Joji definitely! And the first time I saw this masterpiece of a music video, I was pretty puzzled and disturbed. But seeing these brutal lo-fi visuals to this lovely hymn is a piece of art. The talented director Dan Streit says about it: "Joji & 88rising approached me with a loose concept of making a cutty lofi video that follows a crew of misfits experiencing a chaotic & aggressive lifestyle. I brought in producer Andy Ruse, who helped me mold the idea to highlight the absurdity & misery of overly-masculine posturing, as well as find incredible subjects with associate producer Adam Talan. Tommy & Leigh Murray helped us with everything in between. I'm not sure if I've ever had more fun making a video with my friends.:-)" – if you watch only one music video this month, this shoud be it! Enjoy.
NYTimes: 'Nicole McLaughlin's Designs Are No Joke'
If you're anything into fashion, I'm sure you heard her name already: Nicole McLaughlin. After reading regularly on Highsnobiety about her, listening to a lovely episode of Throwing Fits and following her practice for quite some time now, I think this NYTimes article is a perfect portrait about her and her important work. Coming from "gorpcore" roots and having collaborated with Pharrell or Gucci, the message of her work is more than important. As the article sums in up perfectly: "The only way to combat overconsumption is to produce less and repurpose more. Most of the clothing and fabrics discarded in the United States end up in landfills; the volume of textile waste increased by more than 800 percent from 1960 to 2015, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. McLaughlin, through her designs and advocacy, wants to encourage people to repurpose the items they buy instead of throwing them out."
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The next season of interviews (Season 4!!!) will start from October through December. Until then I will be releasing 'ENERGY SOURCES'. Next issue on August 1st.
I promise. More on the fourth season then...
See you. 🫂
Have a great one - sending good vibes to you all!