Meet the Team: Sung Min Kim (CXO)
I. The starter
One to two paragraphs per answer
Who are you, and what do you at Black One?
My name is Sungmin Kim, and I joined Black One as their CXO in 2020. I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to Berlin last summer. Based on my experience with K-POP, which has changed rapidly and is the most progressive in the music industry over the past 20 years, I am in charge of designing the creative system along with brand experience.
What is your personal and professional background?
I see myself as an inventor because I’ve defined my role as such since 1989, reminding myself about it always. I’ve been entitled to various job titles at the best companies such as JYP Entertainment and Samsung Electronics HQ, as a product manager, consultant, editor, and UX designer. But in fact, the essence of all these titles are just derived from the approach taken by the inventor. When presented with a problem, the inventor’s approach is more sensitive than others and tends to offer the most creative solution.
In my childhood, I was greatly inspired by the skateboarding culture. My friends and I organized punk bands and made hip-hop music with a 4-track to 8-track cassette MTR. My first album with my friends was released in 1996, when we were only 15–16 years old, under the name ‘Shisha Kickflip Karaoke Jam Session’ through the Korean label ‘Stoneages.’ It was much harder to release an album through labels then compared to the current music industry. The experience of accomplishment from our first album resulted in all the friends who participated to become either famous artists or running their own music companies.
Later, I worked as a featured editor for Korean magazines in music, film, and fashions, and wrote various music articles and reviews. At this time, I used the name ‘MGZK’ myself. It means ‘King of Magazine’ or in Japanese, ‘Magazine King,’ I named it to write extremely cheeky and vitriolic critics.
In 2007, I released three albums through PSA Japan, intending to make music also to show my inventions live, including robots, cassette DJing systems, and more.
As an official full-time position, I joined as the creative team lead at JYP Entertainment, which is the top K-POP label. After that, I worked for Samsung Electronics HQ for six years as a UX designer, the product manager of music operations, and music creation apps.
What is the background of your family?
Writing is in our family DNA; some of my family are famous novelists in Korea. I grew up with four older sisters within a robust writing environment. My wife was thinking about expanding her fashion brand and cafe franchise business as a fashion designer. One day last year, I asked my wife.
‘Hey, Shall we move to Berlin?’
‘What’s in there?’
‘Music Technology and Music Scenes I haven’t experienced, yet I guess.’
‘Cool, is Berlin in Italy?’
‘What’s wrong with you? :(’
And one of my sisters lives in Freiburg, also visited Munich, Frankfurt, and so on for business trips, but I never before Berlin. But I still decided to relocate to Berlin without any apparent plan.
What are your passions and hobbies outside of work?
Inventing is my work, my value, and my hobby. I was organizing the Berlin inventor meet up, and it stopped for a while with the COVID-19 Pandemic. I would like to let people know how to create and execute ideas through this meetup.
And I like Sherlock Holmes so much that I named my son Doyle. I’m not a religious person; instead, I think that Sherlock Holmes is the thing to me.
I prefer to jump into new areas to invent; then I try to meet the best people in the field to mimic their behavior, speech style, fashion, way of thinking. From that point of view, I am continuously challenging more experiences in all areas I like, such as vintage audio pile repair, tattoos, hair designing, plant cultivation, and so on.
What was the hardest so far while working at Black One?
Making myself be a useful person.
What are your goals in 2020?
I prefer a company with a creative branding that I can satisfy rather than money, so I want to make steady progress on this part as well for Black one this year.
II. Work & Character
Answer within only one to three lines.
What energizes you at work?
Joyful and creative colleagues.
Your main principles?
Stay unique and be the best.
Your strengths and weaknesses?
I have a lot of doubts about my favorite areas: suspicions about others, suspicions about myself, doubts about what information I am missing in this world at the moment. This is both a disadvantage and an advantage.
What makes you angry?
When I stepped into the professional work environment at companies, I used to criticize others if my opinions were not accepted. As I have been working for longer and experienced more even I was assigned as the manager position sometimes, I am so angry about myself that I am the person who cannot persuade the opinions to anyone these days. It’s a different meaning of growth for myself, but it’s still way harder to manage the stress.
Optimist, Realist, or Pessimist?
A pessimist with endless doubt, pretending to be optimistic.
What’s one irrational/daily fear that you have?
I fear that the day will come when I lose my attitude of being unique.
By far, Sherlock Holmes, who taught me ‘Don’t see the thing, but observe it.’
What’s one thing about you that surprises people?
Some people I met in Berlin asked me why I came to Berlin. People say there aren’t many jobs in big companies here compared to other cities. Yeah, that’s why I’m here.
For what are you most grateful today?
Thank you to Sherlock Holmes first, and my family who inspire me and also help me rest.
What does success mean to you?
For me, success is a life that does not worry about what to do the next day.
III. The fun & embarrassing
Korean variations with childish way like ‘Sungmen’, ‘Sungman’ called by friends.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
The important work is well performed at the calm night time.
All-time Favorite Books you would recommend?
Sherlock Holmes, just begin with ‘A Study in Scarlet’ first.
TV shows/films you would recommend?
Not many. But I just hope people don’t confuse the Sherlock Holmes TV series to original novels.
When online just for fun, what’s interesting to you in terms of content and sites?
Recently, I’ve seen a documentary about flying instruments in Russian. The reason I watch foreign language broadcasts that I do not understand is that I imagine ideas in limited information and think of new ideas. I see it as a foreign language that I didn’t understand or understand anything in a professional field that I don’t know at all.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
My relocation to Berlin without concrete preparation.
What is on your bucket list?
- Producing a proud Black One artist.
- Release more musical inventions to the world.
- Passing the German C1 test.
What don’t you give a damn about?
Any stereotype that vails the truth.
What do you give a damn about?
Providing an approach for young and creative people to gather.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Mostly Reggae and Dub, Hip Hop.
Songs that you’re listening to at the moment?
Majestic Casual’s “road trip” playlist — it’s also my wife’s favorite.
What fictional place would you most like to visit?
Fortnite, I want to see their next virtual live show.
If you could hang out with any cartoon character, who would you choose, and why?
The Japanese comic version of Sherlock Holmes.
If someone were to play you in a movie, who would you want it to be?
Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the 80s.
Any last words?
Please remember that you can observe anything and that we can all be inventors. You can be the most stylish inventor, the inventor who makes the most useless things, the sexiest inventor, the scariest inventor — there are no boundaries.