On July 4, 2018 Miss Korea Pageant was held to award the final winner of the annual beauty contest. As Korea’s nationwide beauty pageant, the elected “Misses” from each city and province gather to compete to win the nation and judge’s hearts to finally become Miss Korea. This year, as the first runners-up award, Sun (which translates to ‘good/kind’ in Korean) went to Seo Ye-jin, a junior of the Division of Fine Arts who majors in Korean Painting.
“I was very proud and honored to win the Sun award,” Seo said.
Seo went on to unveil her story of becoming Miss Seoul and Miss Korea Sun.
“I actually hesitated applying for Miss Korea Pageant because I thought I did not have the conventional ‘pretty and modest’ image of Miss Korea,” Seo said. “However, I became determined when I imagined myself 20 or 30 years later, regretting not taking the chance to try for it when I was young.”
Seo did not prepare heavily for the contest as she did not go to academies that nurture potential Miss Koreas. Rather, she believed in her distinctiveness and confidence.
“I didn’t do much in the process – except working out for a couple more hours or so,” Seo said with a gentle laugh.
When asked if Ewha affected her in anyways preparing for the contest, Seo responded positively.
“Although I doubt direct effects, I felt like this year’s contest valued participants’ intellectual abilities particularly,” she said.
Seo mentioned that she was asked about her thoughts on the next Nobel Peace winner, and critical thoughts on ‘conventional beauty’ for the intellectual ability testing questions by the judges.
“I was asked about the corset-free movement – to not limit women by fixed beauty standards,” Seo said. “I can only say that beauty links to an individual’s personality and distinct feature; the true beauty would be acknowledging that and loving it by highlighting those features.”
“Even though I was very nervous, I kept comparing myself with other contestants,” Seo added. “However, every time I felt frightened, I got myself together and became determined to show my uniqueness as a strength and controlled my mind to trust myself. It may sound cliché, but I believe the beauty in everyone is different and therefore it should be measured differently, like individuality.”
She also expressed her thoughts on the contest’s standards.
“Though the explicit standards of Miss Korea are vague, I think the contest does not aim to pick ‘Barbie girls,’ but instead I think the females who represent today the time are elected,” Seo said. “Beauty itself is personal and subjective but I guess the preferred type of beauty changes as time flows.”
As her last words, Seo emphasized once again about loving oneself.
“There are a lot of beautiful women out there in the world, but many of them lack confidence and self-esteem,” Seo said. “Like how I confidently showed myself out to the world, I think beauty should be defined by the ability to love oneself.”