Interview with YG KPlus model Eun-suh Cho!

She’s from the hottest model agency in Korea, YG KPlus, she’s on the latest issue of Marie Claire, and she’s only 17. I was able to reach her through fellow YG K-Plus model Jae-young Oh (thank you!).

Us both being students with school coming up the next week, our situation didn’t lead us to a face-to-face meet-up, but fortunately I still got the opportunity to have a chat with her online.

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K: Hi Eun-suh! I think I’ve seen you a couple times in brand lookbooks/catalogues! What type of work have you done so far since your debut?

E: Yeah, I’ve been in lookbooks and catalogues for fashion brands and I’ve also done a runway show!

K: Cool. From what age have you been modeling, and were you parents supportive at first? When and how were you admitted(?) into your current agency, YG KPlus?

E: I started modeling at YG KPlus this March, and my parents have always been extremely supportive of my budding career. I attended YG KPlus’s model academy and got into the agency as an actual working model on the last day of the academy program by passing an audition.

K; Is there a special experience or event that made you decide that modeling is the thing for you?

E: In 9th grade, I coincidentally came across a photo of the model Won-joong Kim(김원중). It made me realize how cool modeling can be and inspired me to become one myself. Ever since, I’ve been interested in the fashion world.

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…Well, he is called ‘God-Won-joong’ for a reason.

K: Right now you’re in the 10th grade, right? I imagine it must be hard to balance school and your modeling career. How do you do it? What’s the hardest thing about being a model and a high school student at the same time?

E: To be honest, I’ve basically given up on my studies, haha. I live in Chungju, which is quite far away from Seoul, so it’s hard to commute to and from modeling work. Also, since I’m a student it’s tiring to have to take all the steps to get official paperwork done to skip school to model on weekdays.

K: That’s understandable, I guess. When you have work in Seoul, do you go alone?

E: Yes.

K: Wow that does sound hard-although I’m definitely not a model, as a high school student living far away from school I think I get an idea of how annoying it must be… so what do your friends say about you being a model? They’re probably pretty envious, right?

E: They’re really interested in my career and they are envious, actually, because I already have a set path/dream, and that’s not common for most kids my age.

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K: Have you ever received negative comments or prejudices as a model?

E: No, never! Everyone around me was super supportive.

K: So how does this whole model agency stuff work? Seriously, there are teenagers that would kill to have a spot at a huge management company like YG KPlus. Tell us all what the modeling agency life is like! Is it worth it? In what way exactly does an agency like YG KPlus help you and your career?

E: Ever since becoming a YG KPlus model, I’ve definitely been able to access a wider variety of modeling opportunities and photoshoots etc than before.

K: How often do you visit the YG KPlus building? When you’re there do you get to see other YG models like Sung-kyung Lee(이성경) or Joo-hyuk Nam(남주혁)?

E: I live in Chungju, so I only go to my agency when I have time during my modeling work trips to Seoul. So far I’ve never seen Sung-kyung Lee or Joo-hyuk Nam there.

K: Are you allowed to freely say no to work that your agency makes you do?

E: I’ve never said no before.

K: What does ‘being a model’ mean to you?

E: Well, I just think it’s the thing I’m going to be doing in the future.

K: Then what type of modeling do you want to do in the future? Do you have a role model model (no pun intended)?

E: Yes, Won-joong Kim! Right now I’m hoping to walk at least one runway at Seoul Fashion Week.

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K: Lots of models are turning to other things like acting or singing, especially since modeling isn’t something you can do your whole life. Are you planning on doing that too, later on?

E: I am open to the option. I might try out other things later after lots of preparation.

K: It’s a well known fact that the modeling industry is packed with intense competition –have you experienced extreme competition against other models in your agency or against other agencies?

E: I just think, ‘what am I doing?’ when I see other 17-year-olds actively working as successful models and it makes me realize I should work harder.

K: In your opinion, what’s the most important factor to becoming a successful model?

E: I’m not yet in the place to dish out advice since I’m still learning myself, but I personally think a model’s ‘image’ is the most important thing.

K: So what’s your image?

E: Hmmmm….. Lively/cute? Lol I don’t know.

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K: What’s your strength, as a model in the industry?

E: My physical endurance.

K: Do you exercise and/or go on diets for your modeling?

E: I don’t diet normally but I do go on short-term diets before photoshoots. For exercise I just go to the gym.

K: Last question! What do you think the strengths/weaknesses of the current Korean fashion industry are, and what differences are there between the Korean fashion scene and the abroad?

E: Haha… I’ve never really thought about that before.

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Good luck to Eun-suh : )

I sneaked backstage at a fashion show!

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Ever felt the urge to break into the backstage of a fashion show and see what on earth goes on behind that runway? Well, worry no more-I’ve done it for you. And I didn’t get caught.

Behind the scenes; behind the spotlight

As some of you already know, for the past few months, I’ve been working for Korea Style Week, which is the more accessible, B2B(buyer-to-buyer) version of Seoul Fashion Week. This season’s Style Week took place in COEX(in Gangnam, Seoul) a few days ago, and I was invited(obviously, I worked for them). I’ve been to Korea Style Week a few times before, once two years ago having to sneak out during class to see the Korean designer Ko Tae yong (see post by young Konni about it here). I’ve evolved a lot since then, since I no longer have to sneak around to go to fashion events lest people should mock (everyone close to me now is very supportive of my fashion career). BUT on Sunday, I had the chance to feel that tingling feeling of secretly tiptoeing around to get a more intimate glimpse into fashion. I sneaked backstage during the Korea Style Week runway show!

I figured if I got caught I could pull out the ‘I worked for the Korea Style Week blog!’ card, although I think even so I wasn’t supposed to actually go backstage during the fashion shows.

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(this was the entrance.)

Okay, deep breath, I tell myself. This is going to be a fun adventure! I’ll just keep exploring until I get kicked out. After all, no one in the fashion world succeeds by following the rules, if there even are any, right? The moment I entered, I just saw a bunch of makeup artists lounging around with their phones, looking pretty bored. I walked past them, nodding and smiling as if to say ‘yeah, I’m just one of you guys, keep working, don’t mind me!’ (They stared for a while, probably because judging from my shortness and chubbiness they made out that I wasn’t one of the models, but I didn’t look chic enough to be one of the designers, so who was I? But they turned back to their phones.)

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(backstage. succeeded in entering without looking too weird.)

The first thing I noticed backstage was the models. Oh what beautiful, unrealistic creatures models are.

No matter how lovely, unique, or bursting with personality a model is, there’s one collective aura that they all share in common, and that’s the aura of intimidation. Even though it’s not the first time I’ve talked to a real live one(yes, the nuance IS that they’re a different species) I can’t help but give away my nervousness in the subtle tremor of my voice or my awkward smile as I ask for them to pose for a photo. Physical traits do certainly influence human interaction, I think, as I bend my knees, tilting my head to eye those long limbs through an old Canon Rebel.

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(models running around in heels, backstage. pretty artistic shot, no?)

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(It was scary to even ask them to pose; they were all at least 20cms taller than me in those heels)

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(a model making sure she’s ready to get on stage. I wonder how it would feel to look in the mirror when you’re a model. I wonder if they look at themselves and take their bodies apart, criticizing themselves for their physical flaws like most of us do.)

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Overall it was pretty hectic; after all, the main objective here is to GET THE MODELS ON STAGE, ON TIME, LOOKING FLAWLESS. No one really payed much attention to me because they were all busy doing their own thing, playing their part to keep the show running. It’s not as glamorous a process as I thought it would be.

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(the runway seems a lot more accessible and familiar from this perspective. Just a few stairs and you’re on the magical fashion pedestal.)

When the models are all lined up and the show starts to heat up, it gets quieter backstage because everyone’s so focused on monitoring the show. The director was constantly running to and fro, waving a bunch of papers with the show schedule and details around. She had a pretty intense look on her face, and she was busy talking to each person about precisely what they were supposed to do at exactly what time.

But of course, none of this frenzy is reflected on the actual runway. All we usually get to see is the models calmly doing the catwalk, looking like they’ve got their stuff together.

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(The outfits were colorful and totally weird, but I like weird.)

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(and then there are the people that have to sit and take care of all the digital stuff, lighting, sound, photography etc.)

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After getting a few shots of the models and the people that do all the digital, techno-work (bless those people! no one ever seems to notice them but they work so hard to put important parts of the fashion show together), I wandered around to observe everything else.

A box filled with ‘밥버거'(rice burgers; a pretty popular snack/meal here in Korea. They’re literally burgers with rice instead of bread.) at the entrance raised my eyebrows; I thought models didn’t eat fatty foods, especially during show season. But then a scene from The September Issue where a pin-thin model cheekily looks at the camera during a shoot and eats pie(pie! The ultimate carb-filled, gluten-loaded, evil food! I’m being sarcastic.) comes to mind, reminding me that we’re all human and should all be let off the hook to eat whatever we want sometimes. (And I enjoyed that thought as I munched on my Burger King burger after the show. I have an unhealthy relationship with their long chicken burger.)

I was trying to get a shot of the rice burgers to show you guys when I was interrupted by something much more intriguing-A BACKSTAGE MODEL FIGHT! Well, okay, it wasn’t a fight, it was just a conflict. But I was still excited. I witnessed a model surrounded by girls, shouting to another model across the corridor about something related to the sequence that they were supposed to do on the runway. The atmosphere turned from hectic and lively to serious-mode, and I heard some of the staff trying to figure out what to do with the runway sequence. “We can’t have the lights turn off without the model on stage!”, I remember the stage director saying. I’d imagined model fights to be much more physical or loud, but from my experience(of sitting around on the big black electric sound boxes(amplifiers?) for an hour or so-yeah, I know, such a foundation to judge) conflicts backstage were more…civilized.

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Amid the messy stacks of clothes and hangers and personal belongings of staff members, there was another large group of humans, other than models, that intimidated me. The designers. These were the people that I was actually dying to talk to, rather than the models. I love talking to people about their creative process and inspiration for their craft; believe me, talking to someone about their art really reveals a lot about a person’s life values and perspectives. However, as busy as they were, they looked so immersed in the show, making sure their creations were properly represented to the public eye, that I just couldn’t get myself to pop their ‘bubble’ of concentration. What I did get to to, though, was ask a designer for a photo and exchange blog addresses! Hopefully I’ll get to properly have a separate conversation with her soon.

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(designers dress fabulously, obviously.)

As thrilling and exciting being backstage a fashion show is, sneaking around gets exhausting after a while. I went out to enjoy the many exhibitions by brands.

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A brand called LUVX seemed to be the main show here. They had a giant, weird booth in the middle of the whole exhibition hall and are actually pretty well-known among younger Koreans, considering the fact that I’ve seen their designs before, and I’m usually the last person to know about new hot Korean brands that idols are seen wearing.

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Walking around on my favorite dirty old pair of Skechers, I saw some designs (and people) that I really liked.

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(She caught my eye because she was tan, unlike most Korean fashion-conscious people these days (everyone here dotes on the classic pale Asian face), and because she had mint-blue highlights on the hair beneath her ears.

“So you’re here all day?”

“Yeah, you can take shifts but I don’t have a partner here so I’ve taken care of this booth each day, all day.”

“Isn’t it hard?”

“It’s doable. But don’t take pictures too close up; I haven’t got any makeup on.”)

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(I have no idea what ‘IRONY PORN’ means and, honestly, I really don’t want to find out)

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(model off duty!)

Overall, last Sunday was a glorious day filled with fun, thrill, and awe…which left me with sore feet and utter exhaustion (I’m usually a total insomniac but I fell straight asleep after coming home from Korea Style week), but that’s okay because it was a meaningful experience, both in terms of my fashion career and my life as a whole.

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And speaking of my fashion career, I’ve started working on my eBay partnership this week!

Wouldn’t be possible without you readers. I love you!

Working for Korea Style Week and my eBay partnership

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(Korea Style Week started today! I’m excited to go and meet Kim Na-young this weekend…)

I slyly added ‘working for Korea Style Week’ to my profile, but I never really got the chance to explain the whole experience to you guys, so I decided –since it’s all hot and stuffy and my air conditioner is broken (ugh) and so my brain is incapable of coming up with new ideas for blog projects at the moment– I’d take this chance to talk about the stuff I’m doing while running this blog and what opportunities I’m faced with at the moment. I feel like, as readers, you guys have the right to know what’s happening.

I’m working as an editor (part of the ‘supporters’ program) for Korea Style Week, which is the biggest fashion fair in Korea. Numerous fashion brands get together and show off their latest collections through runway shows and exhibitions, and well-known fashion designers, models, and celebrities are invited to talk about their work and interact with the public (Kim Na-young is coming this time so I’m super excited!). But now it sounds like I’m advertising so I’ll shut up. It’s basically a few days of Korean fashionistas gathering to celebrate fashion that’s actually accessible, not arrogantly exclusive.

I’m the youngest one on the Korea Style Week team, so I was nervous at first but I’m actually having a great time! I write posts for the official Korea Style Week blog(in Korean-I’m told that my Korean writing is extremely awkward…maybe it’s because I’m so used to writing about fashion in English?), I promote participating brands online, I go to the hottest(both figuratively and literally-I WAS SWEATING LIKE A DONKEY) places in Gangnam(obviously you’ve heard of Gangnam…style) with other editors/photographers to get street style shots, and I translate press releases, newsletters, and business proposals. The translating is way harder than I expected. It turns out I can be fluent in Korean and English respectively but I’m still slow at switching from one to the other. I enjoyed the whole experience though and I feel like it’ll help me in the future.

I’ve also just become an eBay affiliate! I’m excited about this too because ePN(eBay Partnership Network) is one of the biggest programs for bloggers out there so this is definitely going to be the start of a whole line of new experiences. So much to work on this summer! : )

I’M ANGRY!

I’m angry because of what a man I thought was intellectually respectable said about a certain rape case at dinner today.

We were watching the news when a story about a rape case involving a government official and an unidentified woman. The official raped her in a hotel room, I think it was, and put 300,000 won(Korean money) into her purse. She fortunately escaped the room and later, outside, found the 300,000 won inside her purse. I was watching this thinking, ‘In what kind of a sick reality does a government official commit rape? I’m f***ing tired of hearing about disgusting men raping and molesting women on the news; that’s what the last 4 stories were about!!’. And then, out of nowhere, the man sitting across the table from me says, “The woman is weird too. She should have given the 300,000 won back.”

WHAT???

I just sat there staring at my food like…‘What did I just hear?’

Being a decent, educated human being, I obviously instantly objected to this ridiculous statement, saying, “She just got raped. You can’t say that she should go back into the room (where her RAPIST who JUST RAPED HER is lurking around, excuse me!) to give him back his money!!”

He fell quiet after arguing with me for a bit and I was scared to ‘make a fuss’, but honestly I should’ve gotten an apology or something out of the situation. It’s EXACTLY that type of thinking that leads to criminalizing victims of rape. If you just escaped someone trying to severely hurt you(physically AND mentally), you would RUN FOR YOUR DEAR LIFE, not think about the money the rapist left in your purse. You would feel like your entire world is being torn apart, you would feel more helpless than ever, weak, used, devastated, and a whole mix of despair and desperation that even I can’t imagine. And in that situation, you expect a woman to walk straight back into the lair of the devil?? Outrageous.

On the same note, I’m also disgusted at the way some people blame women for being ‘provocative’ or dressing ‘inappropriately’ when they’re raped. If someone is raped, I really don’t know what you should ask her/him in that deeply traumatizing, insanely hurtful situation, but it definitely should not be ‘What were you wearing?’. #ridiculousschooldresscodes #ridiculousenforcementofschooldresscodes #stopblamingvictims

And another important issue on the same note- the whole Korea-Japan sexual slavery issue- is what my next post (or post after next) will be about. Too many things to address.

Good night guys.

image creds: http://ashadeofpen.com/tag/poem/page/20/