© Photography Joel Low | Styling Tok Wei Lun | Grooming Shaun Lee
Park Sung Jin may have worked with some of the biggest fashion labels in the industry, but there are no airs about this Busan-born model. His cool, quiet and self-assured demeanour is equally intriguing as the way he effected confidence on some of the most illustrious runway shows with his insouciant stride.
Since breaking into the modelling scene in 2009, the 25-year-old model has captured the attention of leading fashion houses, including Hermès, Hugo Boss, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Kenzo, Calvin Klein and Marc by Marc Jacobs. Shortly after becoming a model at the age of 21, Park landed his first gig with established Korean brand Kai-aakmann. “It was kind of unusual, because in Korea, models go through a process. They first attend an academy, take walking lessons, and then you get this model license sort of thing. I didn’t have any of that, and I landed a gig with a pretty established Korean brand right from the start. I was very lucky,” said Park to Jaeki Cho in an interview for Noonchi.
Park’s career began to take flight from that moment on, rising steadily up industry ranks to become one of the most recognised faces on the high fashion runway. Earlier this year, the model attained one of his greatest achievements when he was listed among the top 50 models in the world, joining the ranks of Hao Yun Xiang and Zhao Lei, and setting new precedence in the fashion world.
So, after eight hours of flying via business class (it was the least we could do) and two full days of back-to-back photoshoots, I am sitting across from this elusive model.
We understand that the modelling industry is not as glamorous as most people think it is.
It’s a lot of hard work. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I never look at it as being competitive. You have to understand that every model has his look and they may work well with certain brands but not all. Starting out as a model is hard, especially with the pay. You have to be prepared to work hard, and wait for the right opportunity to come. In my line of work, I get to meet a lot of models, some made it to the top, others dropped out too soon before they get the opportunity to shine.
Is there someone in the industry that you look up to?
I don’t. The way I see it, nobody knows me better than myself. Besides, I don’t want to follow in anyone’s footsteps, I want my own. I don’t see the need to have an idol that I can follow.
Left: Pants, Louis Vuitton; Wool hat, Saint Laurent; Leather Boots, Hermès / Right: Babylamb reversible teddy blouson, babyland zip jogging pants, Hermès
Wool jacket, Dior Homme; Wool hat, Saint Laurent
You’re a successful and highly sought-after model. What’s different now from when you first started?
I recall when I first set foot in the industry, I wasn’t exactly humble, and I was told so. I wasn’t the most sociable person and I didn’t tell people much about me. That attitude hasn’t changed since. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for what I have achieved. Right now, I just want to focus on my family, my friends, my girlfriend and my work.
Do people talk about you?
They do. When they don’t talk about you, it means you are nobody. I get both or bad comments on Instagram. Whether it’s good or bad, in some way, they care enough to talk about me. When you are the topic of conversation, you know they remember you. You’ll just have to take it in stride.
Left: Wool coat, Louis Vuitton; Wool hat, Saint Laurent / Right: Wool coat, wool pants, Ermenegildo Zegna; Wool hat, Burberry Prorsum
As a model, you are often invited to attend events.
It’s part of being in the industry. You kind of have to. This is when you get to meet and network with people, brands, and designers.
Plastic surgery is a big business in Korea, and it’s common. Have you had any work done or pressure to get work done to your face?
No, everything you see is au naturel. I am not sure if they realise that the side or long-term effects will eventually show. There are many Koreans who lie about not getting work done. I think it’s a pity.
Wool sweater, wool shorts, Ermenegildo Zegna; Leather shoes, Dior Homme
Cashmere turtleneck sweater, Hermès
Left: Denim coat, denim pants, cotton shirt, leather shoes, Prada / Right: Sheepskin blouson with ribbing, cashmere turtleneck sweater, sport lambskin straight narrow pants, Hermès