In a recent episode of his K-Pop Daebak podcast, soloist Eric Nam recalled his “embarrassing” first meeting with IU (and her reaction to his shortcomings).
While Eric Nam is of Korean descent, he was actually born and raised in Georgia, U.S.A, where he stayed until he graduated from college. At 23 years old, Eric moved to South Korea to pursue a career in entertainment, and one of his earliest gigs there was a job interviewing international celebrities in English at MBC‘s Section TV.
All went swimmingly until one day in 2014 when Eric Nam was asked to do the unthinkable: interview a Korean celebrity. These days, Eric is fluent in both Korean and English, but at the time, his Korean skills were patchy. To make matters more difficult, he didn’t have to interview just any celebrity—he had to interview IU, one of the country’s most successful stars.
I was not supposed to interview Korean celebrities. I was only supposed to interview international stars in English, but they sent me off to meet with IU in a fan meeting that she was doing.
— Eric Nam
Naturally, given his difficulty with speaking Korean back then, Eric dubbed the experience “embarrassing” on a recent episode of K-Pop Daebak. But just what went down? According to Eric, his Korean was so “horrible” that he felt “really bad” about being given the role. To this day, he says he can’t believe they chose him for the interview.
And I felt so bad. And I still feel really bad. Because my Korean… It was so bad back then. Like it was horrible. And I cannot believe… Like til this day, I’m like, “Why…” Like, “Why did they send me?”
— Eric Nam
Eric Nam went on to say that, because of the language barrier, he couldn’t have a conversation with IU that was meaningful enough to constitute a good interview. But thankfully, alongside being one of the most popular and talented soloists around, IU is also sweet and kind to everyone she meets.
That’s why Eric shared that he was “very thankful” to IU during the interview. Despite his difficulties, Eric says IU was “incredibly encouraging and nice about it“. He felt bad for IU, the camera crew, and the fans for failing to do a good job, but IU told him, “Oh it’s okay. Don’t worry. Let me help you.”
This isn’t about practice. I practiced. I just couldn’t do it very well. And so she was still like very like, “Oh it’s okay. Don’t worry. Let me help you.” And she was just so accommodating…. She was incredibly nice and I am so thankful for it.
— Eric Nam
Naturally, Eric says it’s one of the early moments of his career that he remembers well. Though he sadly hasn’t had a chance to say “thank you” since, he did thank her by encouraging all K-Pop Daebak listeners to check out IU’s new song, “Celebrity”, in honor of her being “an incredible celebrity“.
On the off chance that you [IU] are watching this. Thank you so much. And I’m so sorry because I really wish I could’ve done a better job. If I can ever make it up to you… Please let me know.
— Eric Nam
Watch Eric’s first interview with IU for yourself here:
And follow his instructions to check out “Celebrity”!