Just as how our own KAs@Work series profiles Korean Americans across the country who are finding success in unconventional careers, a new exciting TV talk show is taking the next step by bringing these stories to your television screens.
The Portfolio has already begun to air on The Korean Channel every Sunday night, and the friendly, easy tone of the interviews has brought a new nuance to Korean heritage. We spoke with producer Sunah Kim and co-hosts Kevin Kim and So-Chung Shinn to learn about their prospects for the show and what viewers can expect to see on the program.
How did the concept for ‘The Portfolio’ come about?
Sunah: Kevin and So-Chung had a weekly show on Korea Radio Broadcast in Flushing for three months in 2010. The enthusiastic, positive feedback from the Korean American community made them realize that there was a need for an in-depth television talk show that profiles Korean Americans and their paths to success. I was brought in to provide some advice based on my experience in film and television production. When I met Kevin and So-Chung, I was overwhelmed by their passion and sincerity, and their mission statements appealed to me strongly, too. So, I decided on the spot to join the team and produce the show, and that’s how The Portfolio came about.
Kevin and So-Chung, both of you come from such different backgrounds. How would you describe each of your roles’ as co-hosts on the show?
Kevin: I believe that our personal and professional backgrounds complement each other extremely well. So-Chung is the modern day “superwoman/renaissance woman.” She balances family with work, and then on top of that, philanthropy in a way that is truly amazing. We definitely need to have her on as a guest because so many young women could learn so much from her. Her expertise in opera, and the arts in general, with her accomplishments in the publishing world, allow her to bring in a perspective that I do not have based on my background. I see my role as the “lay person” in every interview who wants to ask the question on behalf of people who may not have the subject matter expertise of a particular guest’s industry.
So-Chung: Although we have different backgrounds, we share many similarities. We understand the challenges and rewards in balancing family and professional life. We want to promote healthy thinking and help the greater good. It is easy to say that we complement each other because we offer different perspectives, knowledge, and experiences from varying industries. This may be true, but our greater strength lies in our similar desire to help the community by sharing inspirational stories with our audience.
Of course, we find strength in our differences as well. Kevin’s experience in public service is a tremendous asset for The Portfolio. He is instantly likable and has a natural gift for identifying with others, which reassures our guests and makes them feel comfortable. He is very bright and has worked hard to achieve his own successful career, which is inspirational to our viewers. In other words, he fits the profile of our guests, and I look forward to interviewing him on the show someday!
Kevin, what challenges does co-hosting ‘The Portfolio’ bring that vary from your work in public service?
There are a lot more similarities than I originally thought between shooting a TV talk show and running for office. You realize from the moment the camera turns on, you are in the public eye much in the same way when running for office; every movement or comment you make is being scrutinized by someone. On the other hand, playing the role of a co-host is more challenging in some ways because you have to be much more multi-dimensional in expressing yourself to a television audience. This entails asking questions sometimes that you may already know the answer to, but you want to make sure that the audience gets to hear the answer directly from the guest. It’s also a challenge to learn about a new industry each time. I think people generally don’t realize how much background research is done on the guest and his/her profession or industry prior to the guest arriving on the set.
So-Chung, You’ve had a lot of experience as a former editor and contributor for various publications. Now, you’re co-hosting a weekly television show. How does it feel to be in front of the camera?
Kevin and I are fortunate to have the support and guidance of our experienced and dedicated producer/director Sunah. Surprisingly, I feel comfortable during tapings and don’t think much about the camera, especially when the conversation starts to pick up momentum. Of course, I’ve been able to draw on my past experience as a writer/editor during the interview process. Whether I am writing for a magazine or taping an episode of The Portfolio, I need to know how to ask questions to learn about the subject and then share this information with readers. I trust our team completely (camera, editor, producer/director, co-host), which makes it easier to focus on the task at hand: making our guests feel welcome and facilitating a conversation that is natural, enlightening, enjoyable, and educational.
What are your criteria for recruiting guests for the show?
Our guests are those who live their dreams and inspire others along the way. Success has many faces. Our focus is more on the pursuit of happiness and personal fulfillment rather than financial stardom. Our guests have overcome many obstacles and challenges and may have made many mistakes to get where they are. They have to be willing to share not only their success stories but also their vulnerable moments. They should come to our show to serve as role models for the next generation and not as a promotional tool. And most importantly, they have to share Korean heritage.
We’ll also introduce prominent Korean American organizations that are contributing for KA communities such as Korean American Community Foundation, Korean Cultural Center, Manhattan Korean School, Korean American Family Service Center, and of course, Korean Beacon! The power of community comes from working together! We hope to be a useful and informative source for our young generations when they try to find their paths in this world.
Why is it important for viewers to learn about successful Korean Americans from different industries?
To achieve personal fulfillment, one should not be forced into a line of work that does not feel natural or interesting to them. We want our viewers to understand and appreciate that there are many exciting professions available to them. Unfortunately, many Korean Americans have grown up believing that the only path to success was through medicine, business, or law. We hope to dispel this myth by presenting many different career choices so that they can appreciate their own interests and learn how to take it to the next level. Because our guests are diverse and passionate, our viewers will be able to find someone with whom they can identify and be encouraged to turn their passion into their career.
Episode 3: Hooni Kim, Chef & Owner of Danji
Who would you love to have as a dream guest on the show?
There are so many! We’d like to invite all the wonderful KAs from many different fields. That would include actors such as John Cho and Sandra Oh, LPGA golfer Christina Kim, MVP football player Hines Ward, award-winning author Chang Rae Lee, co-publisher of DC Comics Jim Lee, fashion designer Doo-Ri Chung, business consultant and bestselling author Jane Hyun – ah, the list goes on and on!
Are there any plans to expand the program’s reach to the entire nation? How can viewers who don’t live in the broadcast area gain access to the program’s episodes?
After we complete our first season run, we’ll reach out to other Korean stations in the U.S. and also possibly cable networks in South Korea. For further information, please visit our website.
- Broadcast weekly at 9PM on Sunday evenings
- Available through The Korean Channel (TKC) through Time Warner Cable (76 & 531) and Cablevision (263) in the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
[Photos: The Portfolio]