Thursday, February 7, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Sung Hee Kim

South Korean model Sung Hee Kim is one of the key newcomers that casting directors have placed on red alert for the Fall/Winter 2013 season. The twenty-six year old is a firm favourite of Miuccia Prada's having recently scored key spots in Miu Miu's Resort 2013 campaign and Prada's Spring/Summer 2013 ads lensed by model maker Steven Meisel. The former trained ballet dancer is a dynamo on the runway and in front of the camera's lens, conveying a compelling mix of vulnerability and strength that is quite simply magic. Sung Hee's delicate doll-like features; almond shaped eyes, puckered voluminous lips off set by a divinely heart-shaped face, have been displayed in editorials for American Glamour, the Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean versions of Vogue, Bon magazine and Tank. Represented by Wilhelmina Model Management in New York, Sung Hee is certain to wow casting directors with her engaging, sweet personality and her eagerness to excel at her craft. On the eve of the Fall/Winter 2013 season, Sung Hee chatted exclusively to Inoubliable Model Army about shooting with Steven Meisel, applying her ballet dance training to modelling, and beating homesickness at her favourite K-town haunts in New York. 

Sung Hee Kim
Photographer - Timothy Rosado
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Inoubliable Model Army: Hi Sung Hee, firstly congratulations on your Spring/Summer 2013 campaign and also on your exceptional Spring/Summer 2013 show season! Out of your 21 show bookings, what were the personal highlights for you of the season?
SHK: For me, walking in Prada's S/S 2013 collection in Milan was the most memorable moment. There's so much anticipation and everyone's hard work is made into one short, live moment. I also loved the outfit that I wore and hope my authentic look suited it well! Later on when I got the chance to be part of the Prada campaign and worked with such an amazing team - that was the personal highlight of my career!

Inoubliable Model Army:  Fill us in on some of the gaps; whereabouts in Korea are you from and how long have you been in the modelling game?
SHK: I am originally from Seoul, Korea which is where I started modelling. I worked there for a couple of years before coming to New York. Prior to modelling, I studied and have a major in ballet and have been practicing for ten years.

Inoubliable Model Army: How were you discovered/scouted and what was your initial reaction to being asked if you wanted to be a model?
SHK: I was approached by my Korean agency after they spotted me. I was always interested in modelling because I thought it would be a great experience for me to explore. I accepted immediately because I didn't want to let the opportunity slip by!

Prada - Spring/Summer 2013
Photographer - Marcus Tondo

Narciso Rodriguez - Spring/Summer 2013
Photographer - Gianni Pucci
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Miu Miu - Spring/Summer 2013
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Inoubliable Model Army: There are many Korean models doing exceedingly well at the moment. Yourself, Soo Joo, Ji Hye Park, and So Young Kang! What is it about Korean models that you think is causing the fashion industry to fall at their feet?
SHK: I think it's because most Korean models have years of training/experience prior to their international debut. We definitely prepare ourselves well but we also have the big support and creativity of the photography and stylist teams behind top Korean magazines like Vogue.

Inoubliable Model Army: Are you based in New York now? Has it been difficult adjusting to the pace of New York City and what is it that you most like about the city?
SHK: Yes, I've been living in New York for about a year now. In the beginning, I was scared since it was my first time abroad. Being away from my family and friends was hard at first but I quickly became comfortable because I got to meet lots of old friends and make new ones. So, I don't feel lonely anymore,

Inoubliable Model Army: You've appeared in two major campaigns for Miu Miu and Prada already! How do you feel about these achievements and what was it like to work with Steven Meisel? Were you nervous and what did you gain from the experience?
SHK: It was a total wonderful surprise for me to be part of the Miu Miu and Prada campaigns. Everything was surreal even on the day of shooting - I still couldn't believe it was happening. I think the reality only sunk in when I saw myself in the magazine ads. It truly was an honour and a dream come true to work with Mr Steven Meisel. I was impressed by his professionalism and have learnt a lot through this experience.

Prada - Spring/Summer 2013
Photographer - Steven Meisel
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Daphne Groeneveld, Sung Hee Kim, Caroline Trentini, Hilary Rhoda
& Candice Swanepoel
Miu Miu - Resort 2013
Photographer - Steven Meisel
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United Colours of Benetton - Fall/Winter 2012
Photographer - Giulio Rusticelli
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Inoubliable Model Army: The Fall/Winter 2013 shows are about to begin! How do you prepare for the month of non-stop castings, fittings and shows?
SHK: I just came back from Korea and I had the flu for about a week. Staying healthy is definitely my priority at all times. I take vitamins/minerals and try to stick with a healthy diet plus get as much sleep as possible!

Inoubliable Model Army: Being a relatively new face in modelling can be difficult with lots of rejection and possible criticism. How do you handle this aspect of your profession and what do you feel are the most important factors for wowing casting directors and designers?
SHK: I try to be confident and to bring a positive attitude. It is part of my job to deal with rejection/criticism. I have to be always careful not take them personally because everyone is looking for a model to help bring their imagination to life, and so no one model can be the perfect match to every job.

Inoubliable Model Army: One of the best parts of show season is the friendships that are formed with other models. Who are your closest model friends and how important is their support for getting through the ups & downs of modelling?
SHK: Soo Joo, So Young and Hye Seung have been my closest friends for a while now. I met Soo Joo when I came to New York and we are both in the same agency. We were working together in Europe last season; she's been a huge support for me no matter what I am going through. I am also now getting to know Ji Hye since we've been working together a lot which is great!

Inoubliable Model Army: Did you feel beautiful growing up as a child and how does it feel to be playing such a key role in showing the diversity of Asian beauty?
SHK: I was mainly just focusing on ballet growing up so only thought about myself as a ballet dancer. I didn't think in the terms of if I was pretty, but if someone told me my face would be on an international magazine one day, I would have been surprised to hear it! Many things have changed in the last few years and more Asian models are being used now, so it's a happy surprise.

Vogue China - January 2013
Photographer - Amy Troost
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Ji Hye Park & Sung Hee Kim
Vogue Korea - January 2013
Photographer - Lee Gun Ho
Source - thefashionspot,com

Tank - Spring/Summer 2012
Photographer - Ilaria Orsini
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Inoubliable Model Army: You have had a a few very busy months since the Spring/Summer 2013 collections, having appeared in editorials for the Italian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese editions of Vogue. What do you hope to achieve in your modelling career and is there a dream assignment on your wish list?
SHK: I still have a lot more to explore and experience not only as a model but as a person. there are many places in the world that I want to visit, and I think even many places that I don't know about yet! So I'd love for my career to take me to as many places as possible but one special place I'd like to visit are the black sand beaches in Iceland. Otherwise, I just hope to continue to enjoy the journey of modelling and have a healthy/happy life.

Inoubliable Model Army: What do you like/dislike most about modelling?
SHK: I really like that I get to meet and work with so many talented people I admire. Also I get to travel all over the world so I can't complain much! Sometimes though, I get stressed from busy flight schedules and overweight luggage!

Inoubliable Model Army: What do you miss most about Korea and have you found any decent Korean restaurants in New York (tell me because I love Korean food)!
SHK: I miss my friends and family the most, but for food we're lucky to have K-town in NYC! I would recommend "Chodanggol" - it's one of my favourite Korean restaurants in Manhattan. They serve amazing tofu dishes!

Inoubliable Model Army: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
SHK: Because of my dance background, I think one of my best points is being able to perform dynamic movements with precision. Also, since I was a child I was always listening to various types of music while dancing and that practice helps me to express myself and my emotions in various and beautiful ways in front of the camera too.

A Magazine - September 2012
Photographer - Kenneth Willardt
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Vogue Italia - January 2013
Photographer - Francesco Carrozini
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US Glamour - July 2012
Photographer - Benny Horne
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Vogue Japan - February 2013
Photographer - Sharif Hamza
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Special thanks to Roman Young at Wilhelmina Model Management and Damon Rutland at Nomad Management. For more information on Wilhelmina and Nomad, please log on to and


  1. Hello Neill. Nice interview with Sung Hee Kim. I'm curious to know why you thanked Damon Rutland of Nomad Models. Was Sung Hee signed to Nomad at one time?

  2. Thank you for your comment, Nomad Models is a New York based agency which specialises in sending US based models to Asia and bringing Asia's most promising models to the US. Nomads is a mother agent of sorts to Sung Hee ;-)

  3. Thank you for your 'thank you' Neill! And for featuring our models :D