By Megan Graham
Tribune business writer
Visitors to Kokomo Opalescent Glass factory this week didn’t expect they’d soon be appearing on South Korean television.
“This is an exciting week for us!” Cindy Locke said to a tour group Tuesday morning, as she explained they’d be filmed for an upcoming public television segment shown halfway around the world. “This could be shown to 10 million people.”
Los Angeles film team Daniel Hong and Dongin Choi, both originally from Seoul, South Korea, are producing shows for Korean Broadcasting System — primarily focusing on American businesses that are more than 100 years old. They’ve visited a guitar company in Pennsylvania, a knife company in Idaho, and now they’re in the almost 125-year-old glass factory, which CEO John O’Donnell says is the most toured place in Kokomo. O’Donnell has taken the filmmakers to see the company’s glass out in the real world; to the stained-glass windows at St. Patrick Catholic Church and Cook McDoogal’s.
“We’ve filmed other glass companies, but this is the first time we’ve seen stained glass,” Hong said. “We’re trying to focus on that. How they’ve been surviving in this industry for over 100 years.”
The men will film through this week, capturing the glass being melted from its raw form into massive 2,500-degree molten globs, dried and cut into sheets and prepared for shipment. They’ll also show how the resident artisans hand-create one-of-a-kind blown art pieces in the hot glass studio, as well as other artists who use wire and glass to form nativity scenes, bells and other shapes. The many tour groups that go through the factory each week will serve as a backdrop to the factory’s rich history.
Once they’ve completed filming, interpretors will translate the English into Korean to prepare the documentary for television. Hong and Choi expect that post-production will be completed quickly for a Nov. 18 release date. They said the documentary will be shown on television in Korean communities around the U.S. and online.
O’Donnell hopes the documentary will be just another chapter in a business that has sent glass worldwide. It’s used in stained-glass displays in churches around the world and will very soon be the source of 900 glass castings to be installed in the Washington, D.C., Metro system.
“We’re excited about this because it tells the world about this company that survived the war, survived the Depression, survived everything,” said O’Donnell. “This company has done well in every economic time.”
Though Hong and Choi are world travelers, they said they’ve particularly enjoyed the warm welcome they’ve received in Kokomo. They said they looked up the Asian population of Kokomo before arriving and were shocked to see there were so few people of Asian descent. But they still don’t feel out of place.
“It’s pretty small compared to Seoul, but the people are very, very kind,” said Hong.
Megan Graham is the
Kokomo Tribune business reporter. She can be reached by phone at 765-454-8570 or by email at megan.graham@