Miss Korea 2011: Jazz hands, awkward pauses and 54 beautiful women
The Miss Korea 2011 Pageant, which took place Wednesday night at the Sejong Arts Center, was as flashy and awkward as only a beauty pageant could possibly be.
This year marked the 55th anniversary of the iconic and recently panned competition, which was a national event in the first few decades of its existence and boasted 34.8 percent viewer ratings on MBC as recently as 1997. But it came under fire in the past decade for being disorganized and for focusing only on physical beauty.
Despite the criticism from pressure groups and the media, the Miss Korea title still remains coveted among many young Korean women -- especially celebrity hopefuls -- and this year's event saw 23-year-old Yi Seong Hye (Miss Seoul) crowned as the most beautiful woman in Korea.
The show was streamed live on cable channel tvN (it was pulled from major television broadcasts beginning in 2002) with 1.16 percent viewer ratings.
“We spent more attention to the details this time,” said Ju Jae-hoon, public relations manager of the business department of Hankook Ilbo, which sponsored the pageant. “The pace of the walking was a bit slow in previous years. This year, we made sure the contestants walked naturally, but with an extra spring in their step.”
“There was talk before that having the perfect stylist determined the fate of a contestant. This time, assistance from professionals was strictly not allowed," said Ju. All dresses, jewelry, and shoes were provided for by the pageant, and the girls each had to do her own makeup.
Group training was also much stricter this year than previously, as 27 to 30 judges were posted around the contestants' quarters, monitoring their every move. If caught drinking, being late, or doing something inappropriate more than three times, the contestant was to be immediately disqualified.
Let the show begin
The show started off with all 54 women performing the cancan so self-consciously, they would have put any debuting teeny-bopper girl group to shame. In the latter half of the pageant, the candidates came out sporting matching blue rain coats and twirled their pink umbrellas, and sang “Singing in the Rain.”
After dancing to “Hot Honey Rag” (with jazz hands and all), the contestants sang the Miss Korea Anthem before starting the swimsuit parade.
Actor Shin Hyeon-jun and actress Yu Sun received harsh criticism for their poor emceeing skills, especially when they only announced 16 quarter-finalists when there were actually 17 contestants who had made it to the next round. Shin also shouted, “Wait a minute” during the final announcing of Miss Korea, and to top it off, several seconds of dead air throughout the show left the crowd confused and bewildered.
Yi Seong-hye (Miss Seoul) was crowned Miss Korea 2011; Kim Hye-seon (24) and Kim Yi-Seul (20) were the first runners-up, while Gong Pyeong-hui (21), Kim Su-Jeong (18), Nam Mi-Yeon (19) and Yi Sae Mi Na (23) were named second runners-up.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the air of wild disorganization, the show was the most searched-for topic on most media and online platforms in the country, and Yi Seong-Hye were the most searched-for keywords of the day.
Stay tuned for the CNNGo Seoul interview with Yi Seong Hye, Miss Korea 2011, coming soon.