By Anna Hueg
When you think of magic, do you think of a man in a tuxedo pulling a rabbit out of a top hat or pulling a coin from behind someone’s ear?
If so, Eddie Kwon agrees with you—but that’s an image he’s working to change.
Kwon lists ‘professional magician’ among his other
credentials. He is an SJU sophomore studying philosophy, which relates to magic more than you might imagine—according to Kwon.
“Aristotle always put emphasis on what is natural and what is unnatural. And when people see a magic act they are usually defensive because they are not accustomed to admitting their ignorance about certain things in the world,” Kwon said. “When you see a magic act, there’s a silent agreement between both parties that this is going to be fiction and it’s going to be harmless.”
For Kwon, magic is more than card tricks and slight-of-hand; it’s an art form.
“[Magic] is not something that I do, its something that I am. It’s part of my identity,” Kwon said.
Today, he is an accomplished magician with thousands of formal and impromptu performances under his belt and at least 5,000 tricks in his repertoire.
He has performed at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, one of the most prestigious clubs in the magic community. He was one of the youngest magicians to perform there.
The success Kwon has experienced was something he never planned on.
Growing up in Seoul City, South Korea as the child of two working parents, Kwon had to find ways to entertain himself. He found enjoyment in brainteasers like wooden train tracks and puzzles. On the weekends, his parents would take him to amusement parks and shows.
When he was six, Kwon attended his first magic show, which he described as “breathtaking.”
The magician’s final act is what hooked Kwon.
“[The final act] was called ‘Flying.’ That’s a very bold title because flying is very different from floating or hovering or levitating. Flying has fewer limitations. And this man could actually fly on stage. Through the hoops, through the plastic clear boxes, like gravity was nothing to him,” Kwon said.
Much later in his life, Kwon found out the magician he saw that night was David Copperfield, one of the most successful magicians in the world.
From then on, Kwon spent eight hours each day practicing and learned English by reading magic books. He committed himself to a high standard—hoosing not to use apparatuses or technology in his tricks—and instead performed all his tricks by hand.
“Not a lot of people do that anymore. A lot of people want the easy way out, want everything faster, easier, so there’s very few people in the world who can do what I can do,” Kwon said.
The level of skill Kwon committed himself to paid off when was discovered as a teenager, working a counter at a magic convention as an English translator. He was invited to a prestigious magic convention in Buffalo, New York and his career as a magician catapulted from there.
His focus on excellence still holds true today. This week he mastered a trick he has been working on for five years. The trick only lasts about 10 seconds, but behind the scenes are more than five pages of notes on how to execute it properly.
This is not uncommon for Kwon—he is always learning new tricks and reading books on ways for him to perfect his illusions.
Luckily for Kwon, he has an attentive audience to practice new tricks on. His skills have captured the attention of some of his SJU classmates—and they are always eager to see what Kwon has up his sleeve.
Luke Olley, an SJU sophomore, has been a fan of Kwon’s magic since he first saw him perform as a first-year.
Last weekend, Olley was having people over to his dorm, and decided to contract Kwon’s services to entertain his guests. Kwon and Olley agreed upon a $20 service fee—the cost of a large Gary’s pizza—in exchange for 40 minutes of magic tricks with coins, cards and foam balls. The group quickly grew from a few friends to over 20 people.
Olley says he admires Kwon’s skills both in terms of his tricks and the way he interacts with the audience.
Audience interaction is something Kwon values in his performances as well.
“I consider audience interaction to be very important. Because otherwise, what’s the difference between watching a magic act and watching a magic act on YouTube?” Kwon said. “I try not to perform to people, I try to perform for people, and it’s the best if I’m performing with people.”
To achieve this audience interaction, Kwon keeps his performances intimate—whether at the Magic Castle or in an SJU dorm, he prefers a group of 20-50 people.
He will be opening for Chris Jones, a hypnotist, at 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23. in Alumnae Hall at CSB.
“He’s legit,” said Olley. “If you get a chance to be close to him, he’s gonna blow your mind.”