By Kim Tae-jong
Is beauty something you are born with or something you can create?
The contestants in this year's Miss Korea contest have proved that physical charms cannot sparkle without inner attractions and efforts to develop them.
The pageant, which was held last night at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Seoul, garnered Lee Honey
(Ha-nui) from Seoul the honor of the nation's most alluring woman. Lee is a graduate student majoring in kugak, or traditional Korean music, at the Seoul National University.
The runner-up prizes went to Park Sharon from Inchon and Jang Yun-seo from North Chungchong Province. The second runner-up prizes went to four contestants: Park Hee-jeong from Pusan, Kim Yu-mi from Seoul, Park Sung-min from Seoul and Kim Su-hyun
from South Cholla Province.
But the crown of a beauty queen aside, all 61 contestants successfully did their best to show what their charms were in the main event.
Organized by the Hankook Ilbo and Sports Hankook, two sister newspapers of The Korea Times, the annual event was richer in programs to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.
Along with their physical charms, the sculpted beauties showed off their talents pleasing the jury and audiences with dances, songs or instrumental performances and a fashion show with clothes by the nation's top designer Andre Kim, who also served as a member of the jury.
Other jury members include the first prize winner of the 2002 Miss Korea Kum Na-na, who made it to Harvard University, actor Cha In-pyo
, who stars in recent film "Hanbando
" and Nageshrao Parthasarathi, Indian ambassador to Seoul.
The contestants are winners of this year's regional competitions, both at home and abroad. Among them, 16 are ethnic Koreans living in Korean communities in other countries such as the United States, China and Japan.
To prepare for the two-hour show, the contestants had lived together at a camp in Kihung, Kyonggi Province, from July 9 for about a month.
During the 26-day intensive, boarding school-like regimen, they practiced dances, songs and other performances while participating in charity work, various lectures and activities.
Daily schedule was tight—waking up around 6 a.m. and going to bed around 2 a.m. every day. Days were full of various programs from make-up and hair classes to visiting institutes for the needy.
The pageant is over. But people will soon see these talented young women demonstrating their talents in various fields.
The top prize winners will represent the nation at various international beauty contests such as Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International and Miss Asia-Pacific. Many will show up on television or the big screen as actresses, show hosts or fashion models, as the pageant is inarguably an opportunity for them to launch careers in the modeling or entertainment industries.
Others will go back to their life and develop their profession by building on their talents with fun memories and a valuable experience in their heart.