Meet 11 Korean Model Stars including Half-Nigerian Han Hyun Min
When it comes to diversity in fashion, one of the groups least represented is the Korean model. The lack of ethnic models remains an important topic of industry wide conversation. Activists like Bethann Hardison and Iman have been very vocal about the issue. “I got a call from Naomi [Campbell], she called me and said, “You gotta do something about it, it’s really bad, they’re not using any models of color,” Hardison shares in a Time interview. Quite a few positive changes have been made since then, most importantly is increasing awareness and accountability. However, there’s still a large discrepancy in the number of non-white models.
Han Hyun Min, a 16-year-old Korean-Nigerian male model, adds an interesting dynamic to the conversation. He is both a model of color and a Korean male model. Ironically, the rising star reveals that he’s a minority within his own Korean culture. “They would say bad things about me. If I was with a friend, their mom would come and say don’t play with that kid,” he recalls to Vogue. Han Hyun Min grew up in Seoul and likewise, speaks Korean.
Korean Models and the Growing Asian Fashion Market
With rapidly growing fashion economies in the Asian countries of China and South Korea, there’s really no excuse for the lack of asian or Korean models. Experts reveal that the apparel market in China will reach a value of 333,312 million by 2019, surpassing the American fashion economy. However, this doesn’t guarantee that the brands will use more Korean models, especially when much of the discrimination comes from within Korea itself. Han Hyun Min’s story illuminates the existence of color issues in homogeneous Korea. It suggests that the country, too, has fallen victim to the Western world’s theory of beauty and whiteness. On the other hand, the Nigerian-Korean model offers hope. Despite the adversity, the Korean fashion industry is taking note resulting in notable appearances including the pages of GQ Japan.
In recent updates, we shared our rankings of the top asian models and top black models of the moment. This time around, we focus exclusively on Korean fashion models. From Ford’s first Korean Supermodel of the World, Kang Seung-Hyun “Hyoni Kang”, to newcomers like Han Hyun Min and Sohyun Jung, these are the top Korean model faces of the moment, 2017.
11. Sora Choi
After winning Korea’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3, Sara Choi show no signs of slowing down. The model recently walked in an astounding 50 shows in a single fashion week season.
10. Jun Young Choi
Promising model Jun Young Choi is already showing versatility. Her most notable appearance so far is for one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, Uniqlo.
9. Ji Young Kwak
South Korean beauty, Ji Young Kwak is popular on and off the runway. Her recent work includes the Korean editions of Vogue, Elle, and W as well as runway appearances for brands like Zadig & Voltaire, Rebecca Minkoff, and Rodarte.
8. Pong Lee
Korean fashion model Pong Lee is quickly becoming an editorial favorite. Pong’s resume includes titles’s like Vogue China, Vogue Korea, Marie Claire, and Vogue Italia.
7. Hyun Ji Shin
With doll like features and a flawless complexion, Hyun Ji Shin is a rising industry starlet. So far, she’s already caught the attention of industry icon Karl Lagerfeld leading to a Chanel catwalk appearance.
6. Hyoni Kang
Kang Seung-Hyun, known as Hyoni Kang, broke barriers in 2008 becoming the first Korean model to win the Ford Supermodel of the World title. In fact, she was the first asian model to win, period.
5. So Young Kang
So Young Kang’s life changed forever in 2004 after winning the Korean Super Elite Model Contest. By 2009 she’s a favorite of fashion glossy, Vogue Korea. Soon after, Soo Young is seen everywhere.
4. Soo Joo Park
Korean model Soo Joo Park is one of the industry’s busiest working girls. Her portfolio includes ad campaigns for Loreal and covers of the Korean editions of Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.
3. Sohyun Jung
Winner of Elite Model Korea’s 2013 edition, Song Hye-kyo, has high-fashion appeal. Her recent fashion week Season included runway appearances for Miu Miu, Chanel, Hermes, Fenty x Puma, and Marc Jacobs.
2. Sang Woo Kim
British-Korean model Sang Woo Kim, is well on his way to becoming a supermodel. His growing client list includes names like Diesel, Fenty x Puma, Dolce & Gabbana, Kenzo, W Magazine, and Vogue Korea.
1. Yoon Young Bae
Daego native Yoon Young Bae is being called the Korean model of the moment. So far, she’s living up to the distinction. With only two show seasons behind her, Yoon Young Bae has already starred in a Prada campaign and claimed two Vogue covers. The Korean model’s runway record is equally impressive. Her clients include luxury brands like Chanel, Celine, and Valentino.