[Paparazzi Corner] A Changing Face: South Korea’s First Black Model

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[Paparazzi Corner] A Changing Face: South Korea's First Black Model
(Photo Credits: Hyunmin’s Instagram @h_h_m0519)

Meet Han Hyun-min, a not-so-regular 17-year-old Korean teenage boy. His tall physique and unique appearance has granted him a head start in his ambition to be a professional model. Han has only started modeling last year after a guy from his agency saw him walk to the coffee shop where they were supposed to meet –– Then signed him on immediately. At a young age, he has already appeared in countless shows modelling alongside full-time models.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJMmUXHCvcY]


He also mentioned in an interview with Vogue that he’s entirely a self-taught model. He watched YouTube videos in order to learn how to strut and walk professionally. On the show 자랑방 손님 (which loosely translates to ‘Guest in the Pride Room’) hosted by Heechul from Super Junior and Park Myungsoo, Han brought out his 12cm killer heels and demonstrated how he used to wear them and walk around in order to practise. This effort was met with gasps from both the MCs and production crew for his ability to do it and his towering height.

All of this was not achieved without difficulty. Growing up as a Nigerian-Korean in a largely homogenous society, he has faced discrimination even when he lives in a foreigner-majority neighbourhood.


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHna-n8x-d8]

Born and bred in Seoul, Hyunmin also faces difficulty speaking English just like any other Korean student. He has had strangers asking him for directions on the street in English and all he could do is to politely refuse and awkwardly say “no speaking English” in a Korean tone.

Hyunmin’s debut will serve as hope for the 4% foreigner-Korean minority to have a better chance at integrating into society. This comes after his “predecessors” Sam Okeyre and Joseph Busto who has had their go at appearing on a number of Korean shows and received positive feedback thereafter.

With the steady popularity of shows in Korea featuring foreigners such as ‘Abnormal Summit’ and ‘My Neighbour Charles’, it is clear that there is a shift in the perceptions of the Korean society. While this might mean a more welcoming atmosphere for foreigners, there is doubt as to whether Koreans are ready for a more racially diverse society.

Nevertheless, the growing diversity in representation and portrayals on Korean media deserves its due credit. We hope that Hyunmin continues to persevere in his modelling journey and stand as a statement for the mixed-blood citizens of Korea!


Meanwhile, check out Hyunmin on Instagram for awesome photos of his chic look!


P.S Oh, and as a plus, he sounds a lot like EXO’s Chanyeol when he speaks. If  you would like to see him talk in interviews, watch the videos attached above!

Article by: Cass @ KAvenyou

KAvenyou: Singapore to Korea – Music, Wanderlust, Foodie, Lifestyle.

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