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Seoul Fashion Week: Stories from the outsideBy Choi Si-young
Published : Feb. 8, 2024 - 16:43
Photographing celebrities and influencers kept many carrying a press pass occupied at this year’s Seoul Fashion Week, which ended Monday. But what made the biannual event so lively were those looking in from the outside, many of whom have stories to tell.
Lauryne Bouyssy and Caitlin Kantner -- French nationals who are pursuing their goals of becoming professional models -- shared theirs with The Korea Herald, as they were illuminated with camera flashes outside Dongdaemun Design Plaza on Monday, where the five-day SFW was drawing to a close.
“I never thought about (modeling). Never even considered it,” said Bouyssy, a 22-year-old freelance model looking for a local agency. But, after being asked to model by Korean designers and friends of friends, she said she had a change of heart.
September this year marks five years of Bouyssy’s journey in Korea. K-pop sensation BTS was the trigger, Bouyssy said, recalling her decision to leave her hometown following her high school graduation. She said she had wanted to understand the songs “a little bit better.”
“I grew out of it,” Bouyssy said, chalking this up to the toll of “living alone for few years to find a job.”
Decisions on offers from local agencies will be made soon, as early as this week, Bouyssy said.
“They’re not the best I guess. But I’m a beginner, so I’m not going to be too picky about it,” she said, adding, “If an agency doesn’t help me, I’m going to do it myself, so I’m not really worried about it.”
Caitlin Kantner, Bouyssy’s friend, on the other hand, has been a full-time model since February 2023. Yega Entertainment signed the 27-year-old, who had been an English teacher at a “hagwon” or a cram school in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. Their friendship took off last year over shared Instagram posts.
“I started modeling here for the first time,” Kantner said, describing the teaching experience as largely monotonous. Like Bouyssy, Kantner arrived in Korea in 2019, a month ahead of Bouyssy. K-pop, once the motivation that led her to settle here, has long lost its glamor, according to Kantner.
“It’s not really glamorous,” Kantner said of days when she woke up early in the morning to catch the train to see live performances up close for “five minutes after waiting in line for five hours.”
A history major, Kantner said she rediscovered her passion in the arts. “I’ve always been into the arts, so in university, I made my own dance crew. Primarily, I’m a dancer,” she said, noting she had thought dancing and modeling simultaneously would open up more career opportunities.
“They want to hire someone who’s very diverse, better to do both,” Kantner said of the sentiment among her potential employers.
Holding a college degree -- a bachelor’s or even a master’s -- would give aspiring foreign models an upper hand, according to Bouyssy. She said foreigners need something extra to lay the foundations for living and working in Korea.
“I don’t know what degrees I’ll do now. Perhaps (I will find them out) later,” Bouyssy said.
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