K-Pod is a series dedicated to the stories of Korean Americans in arts and culture. Hosts Catherine Hong and Juliana Sohn talk to artists, writers, designers, directors, musicians, chefs and other creatives about their work, their lives, and how they came to forge their careers.

K-Pod Episodes

K-Pod: Edward Lee

Edward Lee is the acclaimed chef of several restaurants in Kentucky and the DC area, most notably Louisville’s 610 Magnolia, where he first made his mark on Southern cuisine almost 20 years ago using ingredients such as gochujang and soy sauce aged in whiskey barrels. He won a James Beard award for his 2018 book Buttermilk Graffiti and he was nominated for an Emmy for his work hosting the PBS series Mind of a Chef. Lee is also the co-founder of a remarkable nonprofit called The Lee Initiative, which during the pandemic has been supporting restaurant workers, struggling farms and other communities in need. Catherine and Juliana talk to Edward about how growing up in Carnarsie, Brooklyn—where there were very few Korean Americans—shaped his palate and his identity. He also shares stories about Clay, the hip Korean restaurant he opened in New York in the late ‘90s, his recent guest appearance on Top Chef: Portland, and his newfound mission in life to help others.

K-Pod: Chang-rae Lee

Chang-rae Lee is the author of Native Speaker, On Such a Full Sea, A Gesture Life, Aloft, and The Surrendered, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His latest novel, My Year Abroad, is a dazzling tale about an American college student whose life is upended when he travels to Asia under the wing of a mysterious Chinese American entrepreneur. From his home in San Francisco, where he’s on sabbatical from his position as a professor at Stanford, Chang-rae talks with Catherine and Juliana about overcoming the pressures of being “the first” well-known Korean American novelist, developing his early love of writing as a student at Exeter, and the way his mother’s early death from cancer at age 52 may have influenced his decision to pursue writing as a career. He also shares stories about his parents (we learn his mother was featured in Time magazine in 1956!) and his fond memories of the Korean church summer camp he attended as a kid.

K-Pod: Jim Lee

Jim Lee is one of the most influential and revered figures in the world of comic books. The chief creative officer and publisher of DC Comics, Jim was born in Korea and immigrated to the States when he was nearly five. From Superman to Batman to Iron Man to Wonder Woman, Jim has drawn just about every superhero you can think of and holds the record for the best-selling comic book of all time, X-Men, #1. Jim tells Catherine and Juliana about his earliest childhood memories of life in Seoul; his lifelong obsession with drawing; his teenage years as a Korean American prep schooler; and the epic blowout he had with his parents when he announced he wasn’t going to medical school. He also shares his thoughts on the importance of representation in the industry and the possibility of Americans embracing an Asian superhero. Joining our co-hosts for this special episode is K-Pod audio engineer and Jim Lee superfan AJ Valente.

K-Pod: Carol Lim

Designer Carol Lim has been at the leading edge of American fashion since 2002, when she and Humberto Leon co-founded the retail shop Opening Ceremony in downtown New York. She and Humberto went on to design their own acclaimed fashion collection, also called Opening Ceremony, and to become co-creative directors of Kenzo, a position they held for eight years. In January 2020, Opening Ceremony announced that it would be coming under new ownership and closing all its retail locations. In a Zoom call, Carol chats with Catherine and Juliana about the major changes at the company. She also shares stories about growing up in Los Angeles, her favorite dress in middle school (Benetton), her SAT scores, her famous friendship with fellow Berkeley classmate Humberto, and her belief in the value of nunchi (눈치).

K-Pod: Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho needs no introduction. In 1994, the comedian was the first Asian American to have her own sitcom (All-American Girl, loosely based on her experience as a teenager growing up in San Francisco). After the show was cancelled, she returned to standup, where she built a reputation for her confessional, bawdy and subversive material, which targeted racism, homophobia, fat shaming, the entertainment industry, and most mercilessly, herself. From her Los Angeles home where she and her chihuahua, Lucia, have been sheltering during the pandemic, Margaret tells Catherine and Juliana about her minister grandfather, her dad’s deportation, becoming financially independent at age 18, a shaman’s surprising prophecy and her favorite K-dramas (Itaewon Class, Replay 1988, Mystic Pop Up Bar, Prison Playbook, Hospital Playlist, It’s Ok Not To Be Ok, Flower of Evil, Stranger 2).

K-Pod: Ben Baller & Jeanne Yang

Los Angeles-based siblings Jeanne Yang and Ben Yang have both made their mark on the fashion world, but in very different ways. Jeanne Yang is a highly sought-after stylist known for her work with Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr. and Christian Bale.

K-Pod: Diana Son

Diana Son is a television writer and producer whose credits include The West Wing, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Southland, Dirty John, Blue Bloods and Thirteen Reasons Why, where she served as showrunner. She first came to fame as a young playwright in 1998 with the acclaimed play Stop Kiss, which premiered at the Public Theatre and starred an unknown Sandra Oh. In a Zoom interview, Catherine and Juliana learn about Diana’s recent bout with Covid-19, her experience being the only Asian or Asian woman in countless writing rooms and her most recent project, an adaptation of the novel If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha into a series for Apple.

K-Pod: David Yoon

Author David Yoon became a breakout star in 2019 with his critically acclaimed YA debut novel, Frankly in Love, which hit the New York Times bestseller list and has also been optioned for a movie. In a Zoom interview, Juliana and Catherine talk to David about his path to becoming a writer, the “surreal” experience of seeing his first novel take off, and his partnership in love and literature with his wife, YA superstar author Nicola Yoon. (“I feel like I won the love lottery with her.”)

K-Pod: Ashley Park

Ashley Park is a Tony, Grammy, and Emmy-nominated musical theater actress who has dazzled Broadway audiences with her performances in Mamma Mia, Sunday in the Park With George, The King and I and Mean Girls. She has also appeared in Netflix’s Tales of the City and off-Broadway in KPOP and Grand Horizons. But Park didn’t waltz her way into stardom without struggle. As a teenager in Ann Arbor, she was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, necessitating eight months in the hospital. Ashley tells Catherine and Juliana about how her passion for performing fueled her recovery and shares some of the secrets to her success.

Hosts

Juliana Sohn

Juliana Sohn has photographed portraits, interiors, food, travel, and documentary for New York Times, T Style Magazine, Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair and many others. Her personal work highlights the stories of young people. Check out her website at julianasohn.com.

Catherine Hong

Catherine Hong has worked as an editor at Vogue, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, Us Weekly, W magazine, and InStyle. These days she’s a freelance writer focusing on design, food and children’s books. Check out her website at catherine-hong.com.

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