We had the good fortune of connecting with Sungha Hong and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sungha, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I would say a mixture of “branding” yourself/your work online and making friends in the industry.

I started my career by uploading YouTube videos of myself playing video game music (VGM) soundtracks on the cello. That unintentionally turned my channel into an online portfolio where anyone could view my work, which also included professional video game composers to notice me. However, they didn’t just stumble upon my channel. It was through the friends I made in the VGM community who recommended me whenever composers needed to hire a cellist for their soundtracks.

4 years ago, I made the big decision to additionally pursue and mainly focus on my sound design career. Because I already understood the benefits of sharing my work online, I created a Twitter account, utilized the hashtags #gameaudio and #sounddesign, and shared my sound redesigns (gameplay or movie clips that are completely muted and replaced with sounds from scratch. It’s one of the best ways for sound designers to showcase their skills!).

Before that, I went out to every game dev meetup I could possibly attend, made new friends, and connected with them online. Twitter was a huge benefit for me because those friends liked/retweeted my posts, which reached a larger audience. My work even got noticed game audio veterans at top AAA game studios, and they gave me feedback by commenting or directly messaging me.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am currently working as a sound designer at ArenaNet, the game studio behind the popular MMORPG Guild Wars 2. I worked on a number of its content releases, but the latest expansion, Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons, is definitely my proudest work and very dear to my heart. It’s also my very first in-game name credit as a sound designer!

Before that, I briefly worked as a freelance cellist for video game soundtracks. For example, you can hear my cello playing in the indie game, Chicory: A Colorful Tale. The soundtracks from the game was all composed by the renown video game composer Lena Raine!

As mentioned before, I made a big transition in my career to mainly focus on sound design. There were definitely times I felt like giving up. In the first college game jam I participated, I made a total ripoff of the Mario jump sound. I barely made 3 sounds & crawled back into my corner of self-doubt. I thought I’d never become a professional sound designer. I also went through a lot of job rejections from various game studios.

At my first Game Developers Conference (GDC) in 2018, I chatted with a friend and asked him what led him into sound design & game audio. He sat me down and shared his experience. I was surprised to hear that he and many other friends basically devoted all their time and life to get hired within 1-2 years. It was a lightbulb “aha” moment for me. Ever since, whenever I felt like I wanted to give up, that always came back in my mind. If I didn’t surround myself around hardworking friends, I would have thought it’ll take me at least 5-8 years until someone in the industry noticed me.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My partner, who also works in the game audio industry, has been a huge inspiration for me. His perseverance to become the best version of himself as a sound designer, his obsession of reading manuals of every audio software and plugin… But above all, he is the best teacher and supporter, from explaining to me basic DSP (digital signal processing) to sharing how he made this cool “wub” using a wavetable synth patch and 10 flangers (it’s an inside joke in the game audio community).

My sound design mentor also deserves so much credit. I actually met him through Twitter and had never met him in person before then. I was basically an online stranger to him, but he was willing to invest so much time and energy into helping me in my career. From giving me feedback on my sound design demo reel to helping me land my first full-time job at ArenaNet, I owe him a lot for everything he’s done for me!

Website: http://sunghahong.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sungha_hong

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/SungHaHong/

Image Credits
Athanasios Lazarou, Rishabh Rajan, David Cho

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.