Soo Min Kim ’18 credits her Dickinson College education for giving her the skill set needed to win the Miss Korea 2018 competition. And now the former international business & management major, who maored in Chinese, is using those skills to fight for body positivity.
Can you speak to how Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you?
Dickinson’s liberal-arts education has shaped me into the person I am today, a global citizen. At Dickinson, you are expected to think critically and truly analyze the community that surrounds you. Taking courses from various disciplines not only gave me a wide knowledge of subjects, but also helped me to find what I want to pursue for further study. I was an international business & management major with a minor in Chinese, and the combination of these two majors has helped me to develop tangible and practical skills, such as effective oral and written communication skills and a sensitivity to individuals and understanding of different cultures. This skill set served me well when I was competing for the Miss Korea 2018 title. The process of becoming Miss Korea required a deep personal commitment. Each competition included intense personal interviews and presentations, and the liberal-arts education I received at Dickinson served me exceedingly well on the personal interviews. The selection panel’s questions covered a wide range of social and political areas. With strong analytical and communication skills, I could see the complexities and challenges faced by those in need in our society. I knew how to go about finding the solutions to the questions “why is this happening now?” and this allowed me to engage in critical conversations with the judges in different fields. All of the rigorous reading, writing and discussions I had at Dickinson have really paid off.
What was your favorite activity/organization at Dickinson?
My favorite organization was The Dickinsonian. It made me appreciate Dickinson so much more. It allowed me to participate in events and meet various people in different fields. Balancing my coursework and my work as a student journalist was difficult at times; however, while working under the pressure of deadlines, I learned how to be more efficient with my time. I remember when my first article was featured on the front page. Nothing was more rewarding than seeing people reading the paper once it came out. I am so thankful that I have had this opportunity. It provided me with the skills to be a better person, student and good storyteller.
What jumps out as a great memory from your time at Dickinson?
When I look back on my time at Dickinson, the first-year Orientation is one of the first things my mind lands on. I met lifelong friends there at the start of college.
What led you to enter the Miss Korea Pageant?
It all started in my last semester of senior year. At that point, I already decided to move back to Korea and start my career. I was updating my resume and looking for open positions in the news media. During the process, I saw a Miss Korea pageant flyer online. It was something that I never thought of doing, but I wanted to do something new, something challenging. We often say the only way to overcome your fear and grow as a person is to challenge yourself by getting out of your comfort zone. So I did it. I went on to the Miss Korea website and sent my resume. It was spontaneous.
What are your responsibilities as Miss Korea?
Once you become Miss Korea, you are required to fulfill two years of duties and obligations. During your first year, you attend public events to promote and raise awareness of certain current issues, advocating for change and community participation. Other duties include media appearances, hometown events and community services. With the title I have, I now have a stronger voice to influence society. I’d like to use my voice to inspire and influence people. Specifically, I want to use my platform to encourage people to be body-positive and embrace their own beauty without fear of judgement. I want to help to build an environment where women only seek validation from themselves.
What are your future plans?
For the next two years, I’m going to solely focus on the Miss Korea duties. It has been only two-and-a-half months, and I am still adjusting to the title. For the past two months, I’ve been getting many questions on how I lost weight or stay in shape. We often hear about the insane diet plans that pageant contestants go through to lose weight, but this really was not the case for me. You don’t have to go through the extremely restrictive diets or workout plans to lose weight. First, it’s not healthy, and, second, having the skinniest body is not everything we’ve been conditioned to believe. In fact, I am well known in Korea for my weight (weighing much more than the former titleholders), even though my weight is perfectly healthy for my height.
During the competition, I received some negative comments on my body online. Reading these rude and harsh comments made me feel insecure about my body. Later, I found myself trying to chase after the physical ideals, hating my body. At that time, my parents reminded me to first love myself for who I really am and be myself. It was easier said than done, but I embraced myself. It gave me confidence to continue the process, and I won. I realize what’s really important is to find the balance and feel comfortable in your skin.
As Miss Korea, I want to work on setting the healthy standard on stage for better body confidence. I see positive changes in the competition. This year, the Miss Korea organization eliminated the bust/waist/hip measurement portion, getting rid of the potential biases coming from the body size numbers. I believe the competition will continue to evolve to include diverse beauty. I am also going to do my best to make this pageant process inclusive to women of all shapes and sizes.
If you could have dinner with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be?
Ellen DeGeneres. I admire her for her wisdom on life and acts of love and kindness.
You just built a time machine: where and when do you go?
My first year at Dickinson. I miss that first year when I had the most time and freedom. I found my lifelong friends for which I am forever grateful. Now that we’ve all graduated, we are busy moving forward in life, and it’s harder to be together like we used to be. I miss the good times I spent with my friends.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I learned that the Internet is forever after winning Miss Korea 2018. I want to go back to those embarrassing moments in my life that my friends took pictures of and delete them all.
Published October 19, 2018