Staff Reporters
Mar 23, 2023

'Be water, my friend': The MediaMonk creative who lives by Bruce Lee's analogy

The global creative director at MediaMonks Korea can't stand his tribe when they consider themselves the next Leonardo Di Vinci or Steve Jobs of the advertising world.

Nahil Kang
Nahil Kang
In Creative Minds, we ask APAC creatives a long list of questions, from serious to silly, and ask them to pick 11 to answer. (Why 11? Just because.) Want to be featured?

Name: Nahil Kang

Origin: Paris, France

Places where you've lived and worked: Paris, New York, Seoul

Pronouns: He/him/his


  • Creative director, Media Monks, 2021-present
  • Global senior creative, Cheil Worldwide, 2014-2021
  • Senior creative, Tribal DDB, 2012-2014
  • Copywriter, Leo Burnett, 2010-2012

1. How did you end up being a creative?

A bit by accident, really. Both of my parents are classical musicians, so I grew up in a musical environment surrounded by artists most of my life. Although music has always been a huge part of my identity, I’ve never aspired to follow that path (and quite frankly, wasn’t talented enough). From an early age, my thing had always been movies, which, later on, pushed me to pursue film studies back home in Paris. After a few underpaid assistant editor and assistant director gigs, one of my close producers offered me a job as a creative in an ad agency - that’s really how I got my foot in the door, and I’m still very grateful to be around over a decade later.  

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

Throughout my career, I was fortunate enough to work on big campaigns for big brands, but, to this day, my favorite piece of work still remains a small campaign we did for Levi’s in 2012. To promote their new Stretch-to-Fit line and demonstrate the stretchability of the jeans, we partnered with the Korea National Ballet to create a modern ballet on various street scenes in Seoul. Besides winning a few awards, the campaign inspired other markets, other brands and fashion magazines to recreate their own version of our ballet. The highlight of this journey was when the mayor of Seoul invited the team to city hall for lunch after seeing the campaign unfold in the streets of Seoul.


3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

Seven, directed by David Fincher, with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as the main leads. Nearly 30-years have passed, yet Fincher’s mise-en-scene and directorial style still feel so contemporaryhands down the best thriller of all time for me.

4. Who do you most admire?

The people around mefamily, friends, colleagues. For their patience, for pushing me to be my best self, and for reminding me that good things shouldn’t be taken for granted.

5. Who’s on your dream dinner guest list (alive or dead)?

This is probably a very long and eclectic guest list but since you ask, I would say Wong Kar-Wai, Axel Vervoordt, Hedi Slimane, Christy Turlington, Frederic Malle, Jeff Goldblum, Homer Simpson and Maradona to spice things up.

6. What's the last song/artist you listened to?

“Happiness” by The 1975a delightful combination of annoyingly catchy hooks, 80s guitars and schmaltzy sax solos.

7. Tell us about an artist that we've never probably heard of. 

Kim Tschang-yeul was one of Korea’s most prolific and influential artists who unfortunately passed away in 2021. I was fascinated by his ability to navigate through different styles of abstraction, minimalism and photorealism that led him to settle into his signature motif: water drops, which he then pursued for more than half a century.

8. What food can you not live without? What food would you be happy to never taste again? 

My favorite food is definitely pastapesto rigatoni with a nice Corbières wine. As for the food I would not try again, I would say Hongeo-hoe which is a type of fermented fish dish that emits a very strong, ammonia-like smell… Strangely enough, some of my western friends absolutely love it.

9. Do you have a catchphrase you live by?

“Be water, my friend” by Bruce Lee.

10. What's your guilty pleasure? (Don’t limit yourself to food, this could be anything you indulge in)

I’m a huge, huge Whitney Houston fan. I think The Bodyguard is an absolute classic. People have been raving about Rihanna's Super Bowl performance recently (and rightfully so), but I would love to invite the younger generation to take a look at Whitney Houston’s performance during the 1991 Super Bowl… that’s a God-given voice! Watch the video below, over and over again. 

11. What makes you really angry?

Creatives who think they are Leonardo Di Vinci, Steve Jobs or the Dalai Lamacome on, we’ve all met one before! All joking aside, I don’t like people who take themselves too seriously. From experience, I’ve noticed that the smartest and most talented people often tend to be the most approachable and humble ones. That’s the kind of people you want to be surrounded with.

12. Analog or digital?

Both are equally appealing in their own rights. Yet, I found it really amusing when digital tries to emulate analog or when Gen Z obsesses over “vintage” technology like disposable cameras. Nostalgia always sells, right?

13. Extrovert or introvert?

Introvert. Although I can be an extrovert with my close circle of friends. Let’s say an extrovert in disguise. More seriously, I’ve always been an INFJ and I truly believe that our industry should listen more carefully, empower and celebrate the introverts. Every day, I see talents who deserve way more credit and who sometimes get eclipsed by the “louder” ones. Again, being shy and quiet doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong point of view to share.

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