By now I’m sure you’ve heard of Sam Hammington, most recently for his impressive weight loss on a national Korean television show. More intriguing than this healthy twist, however, is how he has become so well-embraced by both the Korean community and his fellow expats. In fact, he’s made a name for himself by starting off in the Korean entertainment industry, and behind this humble figure lies an uncanny talent — one that ultimately pioneered the way for other hopeful foreigners to live out the infinite possibilities of the Korean dream.

So how did it all begin?

To delve deeper into this question, we must first travel back to Hammington’s college years, as he studied Korean in Australia. At the time when most of his peers learning East Asian languages opted for Japanese or Chinese, this was an extremely rare case. Ultimately, though, it paved the way for him to spend three years studying as an exchange student at Korea University, after which he eventually returned to Korea upon graduation. His initial two-year stint spent immersing himself in local culture unintentionally turned into 13, and he shows no signs of termination anytime soon.

“It was different from what everyone else was doing, and I wanted to stand out from the crowd. Not to mention, it was a pit on a resume.”

Touché, Sam. Touché.

Seeing possibility
This, if nothing else, was the secret to his claim to fame: seeing opportunities where others saw emptiness. Pair this with his impeccable sense of direction and perseverance, and you have a foolproof formula for success.
From the get-go, he thrust himself straight into the heart of the culture by surrounding himself with only Koreans and not teaching English.

“I didn’t start with the expat circle, and when a lot of the expats started out teaching English, I knew it wasn’t for me.”

He added that he’d be better off teaching Korean to Australians than English to Koreans. His advice to other expats is to stay true to the voice within. As cliché as it sounds, hear him out — Hammington wholly embodies this philosophy and exudes it in his everyday life.

“There’s always going to be something that works against you, but suck it up. You have to be the person who steps up and changes things. You have the choice.”

His personal beliefs revolve around the vital urge to enjoy life to the fullest, which brings us to his new baby. Figuratively, that is — Hammington is pleased to announce the launch of his new restaurant/bar, Brick Yard. Modeled after rooftop bars in his hometown of Auburn, Australia, Brick Yard exemplifies defiance and liberty where nothing dictates how things should be. As evidenced by the seating arrangements — or the lack thereof, rather — people are encouraged to move within the space, with guests being invited to play around with the  tables, chairs, wooden container stacks, and – of course – the people.

Natural evolution

It started out with Hammington’s friend Andy Ahn, who was itching to start something revolutionary. The pair turned to the hottest bartender in town — Ray Oh — resulting in a collaboration that could only be described as fate. “I took a leap of faith and rented out the entire building to make this place happen.”

Being the modest man that he is, Hammington is quick to point out that any success of Brick Yard is not of his own doing.

“It’s a think tank of ideas by many people to do something different and change things from what they were. It’s not about me.”

Isn’t it refreshing to see such an established figure sharing his successes with those who helped him get there? Right on,  Sam.

Without even major marketing or PR tactics, the place has already been the talk of the town among those in-the-know. How? Hammington’s principle of organic business resonates with customers with whom he’s already established fundamental relationships, and their honest, balanced opinions mixed with word-of-mouth shares helped leverage his success. “I don’t go out of my way to highlight things. I’d rather have things evolve naturally.”

This community-oriented mindset is at the core of Brick Yard’s philosophy, which is to create the ultimate gathering place that is more than just a bar.

“It’s almost a culture of people getting together, having parties, events, creative concepts and sitting down to just relax. It’s like being at home with creative people together.”

Such down-to-earth approach resonates with those whom he encounters, earning him both affection and respect. Though this food and beverage endeavor is inevitably a part of his being, he wants to make it clear that it does not define him. He chooses not to rely solely on this singular, albeit fundamental, side of his identity. So, then, what’s next for this mega empire in-the-making? For that, he keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Keep trailing us along your Hammington drive, Sam, as you always do. You know we’ll be happily strolling along.

Until next time, g’day, mates.