Video megastore, Mondo Kim’s, was known around the East Village as one of the most comprehensive video and DVD collection anywhere in NY. The owner, Yongman Kim, according to the Village Voice, was known for being erratic and unique. A former employee of the store was filmmaker Alex Ross Perry, and one time Quentin Tarantino was turned away from the store for forgetting his membership number. However, once video stores everywhere started to close, Mondo Kim’s followed suit, though not in the usual fashion. Kim began warning his patrons, and eventually made an announcement that he would give his entire collection away to an institution that required 3,000 sq. feet of space and availability to the public. His collection was sent to Salemi, Italy.
The mayor of Salemi in 2008, was Vittorio Sgarbi, who drew up the proposal to house the collection of Kim’s videos, and met all of the other requirements. These plans were covered in The New York Times which featured the words, “Salemi is the future. New York is the past. That’s why Kim’s is coming here.” Though Kim received more than 30 offers from places throughout NY, none would take the collection in its entirety. Kim also made other requirements that were nearly impossible for any one person or store to meet. The Italian town, however, had promised to exceed Kim’s expectations and open the Mr. Kim Museum.
After the collection was delivered to Italy, there was no more to be heard. The Village Voice‘s Karina Longworth decided to visit the town of Salemi to see what had come of the collection. Though it had been difficult to move all of the videos into the museum, it had happened. Interns cataloged and translated the videos, and eventually there was a party for the opening of Centro Kim.
Since then, Kim’s remains a legend in NY, though the collection itself is worth almost nothing in terms of money. Kim has been notified of the plans for his collection and said, “I’m so curious to see how much has been done. If they have my whole collection digitized, oh, boy! That would be awesome.”