A wealthy, mysterious Korean here is throwing around money with reckless abandon, preparing to entertain 1,000 friends today at a $40,000 party featuring exotic foods prepared by Tokyo chefs, gambling on six blackjack and four baccarart tables, a trip to the Bahamas for the party's most attractive woman, and new Mercedes-Benz for the evening's luckiest gambler.
Tongsum Park on a spree with every influential person in Washington? No, it's Hosung Kwon, a 22-year-old Yale senior majoring in economics whose family is in the steel business in South Korea.
Kwon, who in America uses the name Alexa, disavows any connection with millionaire rice dealers Park. He says his extraveganza for tomorrow's leaders is purely for pleasure, not politics.
"I have always wanted to own a casino," Kwon told the Yale Daily News, "but that would cost $20 million. This way, I can have all the fun without the cost." Well, without most of the cost. Kwon has spent $4,500 on liquor alone. Bartenders will be serving up everything from Amaretto to Heineken on tap to Chateau lafitte Rothschild 1971.
Kwon said noted Tokyo chef Onozuka will send a crew of 10 to New Haven from Japan to cater the exclusive black-tie affair. The menu includes beef sukiyaki, roast pig and 200 pounds of lobster.
As for entertainment, Kwno has planned two flamenco dancers, a comedian, a magician-mentalist, a belly dancer, a martial arts show, a local rock band, a 13-piece orchestra, and a special screening of, appropriately enough, the James Bond spoof Casino Royale.
The party's primary activity, however, will be gambling. Kwon has more than 10,000 fake 500-fanc notes, displaying the mug of a Yale buildog, printed fro the affair. Each guest will get 25,000 phony francs to start the evening. Anyone who wins 500,000 francs will receive a genuine $100 bill, and the first person to win 1 million francs can drive away in either a 1978 Mercedes or Cadillac Seville.
In addition to baccarat and blackjack tables shipped from New York, the gamblers can try their luck on horse racing with a twist - the racers are on film.
To top off the festivities, the "bestdressed" woman, as judged by a friend of the host, will be awarded an all-expenses paid, four-day trip to the Bahamas. Kwon said he chose to have the contest as an "esthetic" contribution to the evening.
The university's freshman dining hall has been rented for the occasion. Kwon had the hall redecorated and special colored lighting installed. "My whole idea is to do the extraordinary in an unusual fashion in an unlikely place," he said.
For such a lavish party-giver, Kwon keeps a very low profile. No one in his dormitorystudent from Columbia University who likes to give parties. He gave one on a smaller but still grand scale a year ago for 200 friends.
What do Yalies think about this Gatsby like display if conspcuous consumption? President-designate A. Bartlett Giametti has refused to attend. "I have nothing to do with it," he said. University Secretary Henry Chauncey called the party "silly, gaudy and appalling. It belongs in the past, not the present."
Nevertheless, the casino extravaganza is expected to go on as scheduled. Some students are scrambling to get invitations; others have decided to snub the affair. One invitee who won't attend said, "Yale has multmillion-dollar deficits, the national economy is a mess, and this guy spends thousands on a party. I think it's disgusting."