Milku Lee and Kulapat Yantrasast

The entertainment executive will receive an honorary doctorate alongside Founder of WHY Architecture, Kulapat Yantrasast.

Otis College of Art and Design announced today that entertainment executive Miky Lee (Mie Kyung Lee), Vice Chairwoman of South Korea’s CJ Group, will receive an honorary degree and deliver its 2023 commencement address this May. Los Angeles–based architect Kulapat Yantrasast will also receive an honorary degree and offer remarks during the ceremony. 

Otis College’s commencement ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 14, 2023 at El Camino College’s Marsee Auditorium. The ceremony is the culmination of O-Launch, the College’s annual celebration, including a fashion show and a campus-wide exhibition, taking place May 12-14.

Lee and Yantrasast, who will both receive Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees, are familiar names in the art, design, and entertainment worlds. As Vice Chairwoman of CJ Group, Lee has been massively influential across all sectors of the entertainment industry, including film, television, theater, and music. The “most important mogul in South Korean entertainment” (The Hollywood Reporter), Ms. Lee helped popularize K-pop music in the United States and beyond, including launching KCON in 2012. The world’s top K-culture festival, KCON is also widely acclaimed as a gateway for rising K-pop artists to perform globally, with past performers including BTS. She has executive produced a number of acclaimed films, including Snowpiercer, Chaser, The Handmaiden, and Parasite, which won scores of awards, including Academy Awards for best picture, director, screenplay, and international feature film. A passionate collector and supporter of contemporary art, Lee also serves on the board of directors of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and is Vice Chair of The Academy Museum. She also serves as a director on the board of the International Academy of Television Art and Sciences.

Lee has long been interested in education and cross-cultural affairs, including initiatives with Parsons School of Design, Berklee College of Music, and ArtCenter College of Design. She is the newest member of the Board of Governors of Otis College. In a recent interview for the College, she underscored her support for education and artists: “I want to support talented artists who are able to share their voice with the world,” Lee said. “One of the most rewarding things is seeing an artist realize their full potential, finding their own unique voice, and having them contribute something deeply meaningful to the world.”

Yantrasast is the founder and creative director of WHY Architecture, which has designed, among a wide range of projects, commercial galleries, museums, and exhibition spaces for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Academy Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture, and the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. The firm’s international projects currently in production include the  new Contemporary Art Museum in Bangkok, Thailand; the Rees Ridge Street Park, a public waterfront project in Toronto, Canada; and The Quaich Project in Edinburgh, Scotland, encompassing a redesign of the landmark Ross Pavilion and surrounding parkland of West Princes Street Gardens, which are located on a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

A Tradition of Excellence

Otis College has a long tradition of awarding honorary degrees to influential artists, designers, and thinkers. Special consideration is given to those whose work has had an impact within their field and who have a background and experiences that reflect the College’s mission and its programs. 

Last year’s recipients were KORA Organics founder and CEO Miranda Kerr; Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc.; and Emmy-nominated host of Queer Eye and design expert, Bobby Berk. Past recipients include Bella Lewitzky, Lauren Halsey, David Hockney, Cheech Marin, Kerry James Marshall, and Betye Saar. A full list of honorary degree recipients can be found on the Otis College website.

About Miky Lee

Lee is Vice Chairwoman of South Korea’s CJ Group and is responsible for the overall strategic direction and management of the group’s entertainment and media subsidiary, CJ ENM. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee as a grandchild of Lee Byung-Chul (the founder of CJ and the Samsung Group), she earned her BA degree at Seoul National University and received her MA in Asian Studies from Harvard. Lee is known as a major industry player, starting from her role as an early investor in DreamWorks in the 1990s. Since then, she has continued to strengthen CJ’s presence by leading the global phenomenon of the Korean wave. She was on the Forbes Asia list of Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen in 2012 and 2014. In 2017, Lee was named one of the founding Leadership Champions of the World Bank-affiliated Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi). Lee was nominated as Variety’s 2022 International Media Woman of the Year, was selected as a Variety 500 Honoree for three consecutive years, and was nominated into BBC’s 100 Women in 2022. She was also awarded the Pillar Award by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in 2022 for her contributions to the development of Korean films, as well as the International Emmy Directorate Award by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for spearheading the Korean wave for the past 25 years.

About Kulapat Yantrasast

Yantrasast established WHY in 2004 with the intention of combining his experience in the art world with a deep commitment to cultural inclusivity and human flourishing. He received his MA and PhD degrees in architecture from the University of Tokyo and subsequently worked as a close associate of Tadao Ando, leading several important U.S. and European museum and culture projects, including the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts; and Fondation Francois Pinault pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris, France. He is a frequent public speaker at leading institutions and organizations, discussing architecture through the lens of ecology, cuisine, and human sociability, and is the first architect to receive the Silpathorn Award for Design from Thailand’s Ministry of Culture. Kulapat currently serves on the board of a number of cultural institutions and is a trustee of the Noguchi Museum in New York City and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.

About Otis College 

Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design is a nonprofit 501(c)3 institution that prepares students in the art and design capital of Los Angeles for a dynamic future in the creative economy. The College educates a diverse community of over 1,250 students in a supportive setting to become highly skilled professionals in established and emerging creative sectors. Alumni and faculty are Fulbright, MacArthur, and Guggenheim grant recipients, Oscar winners, legendary costume designers, leaders of contemporary art movements, entrepreneurs, and design stars at influential companies including Apple, Pixar, DreamWorks, Mattel, Nike, and Netflix. Since 2007, the College has commissioned the Otis College Report on the Creative Economy, an invaluable tool that assesses the tremendous influence and economic impact of the creative sector