The young model has had to deal with racism and discrimination, but he still thrives on.
Despite his rare dark-skinned looks in a country where everyone else has a lighter complexion, 16-year old model, Han Hyun-min, who was born to a Nigerian father and a Korean mother, is doing himself and the Nigerian heritage proud with his dogged and fearless determination to take over modelling in Korea and Japan.
‘My strength lies in my different look from others,’ Han said in an interview with The Korea Times.
‘I look different from my outer appearance and I have a different skin colour, which I find the best. I was a super skinny boy standing 184 centimeters tall and weighing 56 kilograms last year. My friends called me anchovy.’
Han soon grew taller, which led him closer to his dream eventually becoming one of the top male models to walk the just-concluded season of Seoul Fashion Week, the biggest fashion show in Korea – appearing in 11 fashion designer shows.
However, Han’s journey to greatness has not been the easiest as he has been with discrimination, being told on some occasions that his skin colour was not appropriate. He was especially disappointed when his favourite designer said he did not hire black people.
The young model, however, was not deterred as he continued to push through barriers, including being dropped for another model at the last minute after learning how to catwalk wearing 12-centimeter high-heels at gay clubs to prepare for an upcoming fashion show’s concept of gender neutrality.
Han’s positive personality is probably his biggest charm as he sees every obstacle as nothing but one of life’s typical challenges.
He has had to deal with people trying to converse with him in English – a language he does not understand – as they would always assume he was not a Korean native.
On some occasions, some would still try to call him by foreign names, despite his insistent that he be called his given name and be spoken to in Korean.
The dream of many young models in Asia is to move to Europe and start a successful career, but Han’s focus is Japan, as he fondly remembers his experience with the Japanese GQ, where he shot a page for the fashion magazine. An experience he will never forget.
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