Mar 20th, 2017, 01:37 PM

A Different World for Mixed Models

By Sydney Zorbas
Image Credit: koreajoongangdaily.com
16 year old model Han Hyun Min is creating a path for biracial people to be heard

The mixed Korean-Nigerian Model, Han Hyun Min, is creating a path for himself and other models of color in the Eastern market. Setting the standard with other African-Korean celebrities, they are breaking the mold in the Korean public. Multi-ethnical children, even those mixed with other East Asian heritages, have a difficult time integrating into the very homogenous Korean society. As they are visually different and cannot hide their mixed heritage, Black-Koreans have a long history of being portrayed as foreign in their own country. 

Singer In Soon-i | Image Credit: upload.wikimedia.org
Singer Yoon Mirae| Image: alchetron.com
Singer Lee Michelle | Image Credit: Youtube

Min, 16, has spoken out before on how people look at him as a foreigner. With the integration of black celebrities into Korean media like Raina's leader Alex and personality Sam Okyere, Koreans are becoming more used to having foreigners around, but are still unaccustomed to black-Koreans. TV personality, Sam Okyere has lived in South Korea for eight years and is a loved celebrity, but still faces difficulties in being accepted.

As a fellow child of mixed race, his efforts to change the diversity in the modeling industry has always inspired me greatly. I grew up being called "the black kid" within my own home. In a family of American-Chinese and Greeks, I was automatically seen as different  with my biological father's features of curly hair and dark skin, at any family function.

My Grandfather, cousin & I
My grandmother and I
The boy on the left I don't know, but the other three are my cousins

Even Min, who is a native Korean, faces these social stigmas. His entry into the Fashion industry has been a hard one. Among other things, he has been given an unwarranted Western name, Paul. Hyun Min is also often spoken to English even though he does not speak the language and is a native Korean speaker. Through it all, he has become a known face at Seoul Fashion Week appearing in 11 shows. Min signed with SF Models and has begun working in a variety of South Korean fashion campaigns.

 Image Credit: Viva.comImage Credit: pictagram.com
Image Credit: indoafrican.com

Though he has faced difficulties with intolerance, he wishes to continue his modeling work in Japan. Min likes the challenge of exposing a new look in an industry where he is not the norm. The struggle of being from two ethnicities is rarely talked about and added to the problems of being of color.

There are privileges and difficulties specific to a mixed ethnicity that are hard to understand and easy to look over. Most believe that you are accepted by both races, but the reality is you're often viewed as "not enough" by both groups within the context of cultural customs. With the success of model pioneers like Han Hyun Min, the issue of race is being exposed. The desire to pursue a love of modeling and fashion is helping generations of people of mixed heritages be seen and heard.