What Hollywood Taught Miyung Kim About Running An Award-Winning Advertising Agency
As a child, Mikyung Kim devoured any kind of filmed media. “Even commercials,” she says. “I was fascinated by the stories. I always knew I was really passionate about film and that it was more than a hobby.” Born in Seoul and raised in Hong Kong, Kim founded a film club at her school and organised a film festival for all secondary school students in the city. “I figured out that I loved organising things and enabling people to do something creative,” she says.
Fresh from studying film in Boston, Kim went to work in Hollywood before her path led her to marketing. Kim became the youngest head of television at Ogilvy Hong Kong, then decided to strike out on her own. Here, she explains how she went from freelancing to founding her own agency, MKIM & Co.
I got my start in Los Angeles working for Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is known for films like Birdman, The Revenant and Babel. I was reading scripts people had sent him, and then I would summarise and rate them for him to consider. That was the first glimpse I had ever had into the world of professional filmmaking. I really began to understand what goes into film development. I also later worked with Michel Gondry, who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
My experiences with these two respected directors taught me how it really works in Hollywood. I realised how hard it is, and how competitive the industry is. You have to be tough and stick with it for a long time because success doesn’t come easily or quickly. I saw the struggles and challenges that my boss, Julie Fong, faced at the time, despite being a famous producer in Los Angeles. I realised you still have to hustle, no matter how successful you are. These lessons were valuable to carry with me as I moved from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.
After working for Ogilvy for just under five years, I took a year’s sabbatical to go to South Korea to brush up on my Korean. When I came back, I decided I wanted to give freelancing a go. It was scary, because until then I’d been on steady pay cheques, but thankfully I ended up being really busy—I was booked a year in advance for projects. It got to a point when I was referring agencies to other people because I couldn’t take on any more. An agency that I was working with gave me the idea to bring on some producers that I trusted, but I would still run the project and be involved. Then in 2017, my own company MKIM & Co was born.
At the height of the pandemic, when large-scale productions were halted around the world, we produced a commercial for Gojek, one of the biggest ride and food delivery services in Southeast Asia. I was really proud of how we managed to figure out how to make the commercial possible. We filmed it in Ukraine using a production company in Paris. I was in Hong Kong working remotely, our clients were in Singapore and the advertising agency, Forsman & Bodenfors, was in Singapore and Sweden. It was an army of people around the world. It was a huge achievement for everyone involved and I was proud to have had a part in it.