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‘Beef’ creator Lee Sung-jin shares importance of being yourself at BCWW 2023

By Lee Si-jin

Published : Aug. 16, 2023 - 15:37

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Director Lee Sung-jin speaks during a conference at Broadcast Worldwide 2023 at Coex Asem Ballroom in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul, Wednesday. (KOCCA) Director Lee Sung-jin speaks during a conference at Broadcast Worldwide 2023 at Coex Asem Ballroom in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul, Wednesday. (KOCCA)

Broadcast Worldwide (BCWW) 2023, an annual event showcasing South Korean content and insights to broadcasters around the world, kicked off its three-day run at Coex Hall D in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul.

Organized by the Korean Creative Content Agency, BCWW kicked off on opening day with a special session featuring Lee Sung-jin, the creator behind the hit US Netflix original series “Beef.” The black comedy revolves around Danny Cho (played by Steven Yeun) and Amy Lau (played by Ali Wong), whose lives become entangled following a road rage incident. The series features realistic depictions of first and second generation Asian immigrants’ lives and struggles in the US.

Lee, a Korean American screenwriter and director who was born in Seoul and raised in the US, emphasized the growing tolerance and cultural diversity in the creative content industry, including Hollywood. He added that expressing who you truly are has become an important quality for creators.

“Many years ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about what Americans would like to see. But many things have changed, and I don’t have to think about what everyone likes so much. A huge burden has been lifted with the acceptance of diversity in Hollywood,” Lee said at the special session held at the Coex Asem Ballroom on Wednesday.

The director shared that “Beef” would not have been realized several years ago, or might have existed in a very different way.

“When you try to write a story, you tend to lean on your characters. When I started thinking about Danny and Amy, I thought about their background, developed them with my own life experience and saw if it resonated with other people,” he said.

Lee believed that South Korea has a unique charm that gets the international audience’s attention and that resonates with the people from different backgrounds.

“I think there’s something about our collective experience that the world wants to tap into,” the director said. “Tap into what makes Korea, Korea and your true experience. Don’t shy away from it, because that is something that others want to know more about,” he said.

“I thought I had to bring something to the table to make everyone feel good, but it’s the other way round now. The success of Korean series in the last several years is the testament to that. Express yourself about who you really are,” Lee added.

On Thursday, Harry Gamsu -- Warner Bros. Discovery’s vice president for creative, format, development and sales – will offer insights about rising trends in the global creative content industry that are attracting industry insiders’ interest.

The BCWW’s showcase program, where Korean content creators promote their newly launched projects, runs through Friday.

New Chinese and Japanese content, presented by Kukan Culture of China and ABC Frontier of Japan, will also be introduced during the showcase event for the first time in BCWW’s 23-year history.

According to the Korean Creative Content Agency, 799 buyers and officials from 35 countries have registered for this year’s event, including KBS Media, BBC Studio, Blintn and more.

Videos of the conferences and showcases will also be available online at BCWW’s official website next week.