Miss Korea: A Legacy of Beauty and Tradition

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Discover the captivating world of Miss Korea, the prestigious national beauty pageant that has been enchanting audiences since 1957. Held annually in Seoul, South Korea, this renowned contest is sponsored by the esteemed Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo. 

What sets Miss Korea apart from other beauty pageants is its unique format, where the Top 7 Finalists are crowned, each carrying a distinct title. From the Miss Korea Mi (미) Second Beauty as 2nd Runner-Ups to the Miss Korea Sun (선) First Goodness/Kindness as 1st Runner-Ups, and ultimately the coveted title of Miss Korea Jin (진) Winner Truth, these remarkable women represent the epitome of grace and beauty.

Miss Korea is the prestigious national beauty pageant held annually in Seoul, South Korea. The first edition was held in 1957 when Park Hyun-ok Jin was crowned as the first-ever Miss Korea winner. Since its establishment, the contest has been sponsored by the Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo. The format of the Miss Korea beauty contest is different from other beauty pageants because they select the Top 7 Finalists from which four finalists are placed as Miss Korea Mi (미) Second Beauty as 2nd Runner-Ups, two finalists are given Miss Korea Sun (선) First Goodness/Kindness - 1st Runner Ups title and the highest position is given to Miss Korea Jin (진) Winner Truth. This unique Korean tradition of crowning seven finalists has given South Korea more accessibility to sending any of the seven finalists to international beauty pageants. In case, the Miss Korea winner is unable to represent her country South Korea at Miss Universe or Miss World then any of her runner-ups will be sent instead. Many of the 1st Runner-Up Miss Korea Sun (선) First Goodness/Kindness, and 2nd Runner-Up Miss Korea Mi (미) Second Beauty have competed at Miss International, Miss Earth, and other international beauty pageants. Some of them have reached high positions on the international platform.

In 1988, Jang Yoon-jeong became the highest-placing Korean delegate at the Miss Universe beauty pageant after finishing 1st Runner-Up to Thailand's Porntip Nakhirunkanok (Bui Simon) which was held in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2015, Hanju E&M took over the Miss Korea organization. Since 2016, the Miss Korea organization has no longer sent South Korea's representatives to Miss Universe and Miss World. Last year, South Korea finally won their first international title with Mina Sue Choi crowned Miss Earth 2022 who originally placed 1st Runner-Up at Miss Korea 2022. The 22nd edition Miss Earth pageant was held in Parañaque, Philippines on November 29, 2022. In this article, we will discuss the incredibly talented Korean women who have made their remarks in the Korean film and entertainment industry after stepping on the Miss Korea stage.

Get to know 14 beautiful women from the Miss Korea stage to a successful acting career.

Kim Sung-ryung Miss Korea 1988 (Jin) – Winner
After the year Jang Yoon-jeong received the main title and received the 1st Runner-Up position at Miss Universe 1988, the Miss Korea stage became much more popular among the Korean general public. The beautiful woman Kim Sung-ryung was crowned Miss Korea 1988 winner. Many people may recognize her from her role as Mother Han Ki-ae in the series The Heirs (2013).

Oh Hyun-kyung Miss Korea 1989 (Jin) – Winner
This year, Miss Korea stage created 2 Korean entertainment stars together for Mr. Oh Hyun-kyung's award-winning. She is the person who plays Na Hwa-shin, in legendary housewife series like First Wives Club   (2007), or talks about recent works, such as the role of the heroine  Mun Mi-ran of the series You Are My Spring (2021).

Go Hyun-Jung Miss Korea 1989 (Sun) – 1st Runner-Up
As mentioned above that Go Hyun-Jung. In addition to being an iconic beauty queen, she is also a rating queen, with Sandglass (1995) scoring 64.5%, Eyes of Dawn (1991) scoring 58.4%, and T.V. Queen Seondeok (2009) with a rating of 43.6% truly born to be the popular best performance.

Yum Jung-ah Miss Korea 1991 (Sun) – 1st Runner-Up
She is famous for her role in the 2018 Korean drama titled Sky Castle as her character of Han Seo-jin / Kwak Mi-Hyang. She is so beautiful that there is also a beauty award guaranteed. In addition to being runner-up in Miss Korea 1991 contest, and represented Korea in Miss International 1992 and finished as the second runner-up.

Lee Seung-yeon Miss Korea 1992 (Mi) – 2nd Runner-Up
Lee Seung-yeon is the actress who starred in Left-Handed Wife (KBS2, 2018), The Great Seer (SBS, 2012-2013), but you might be more familiar with variety shows. In addition to being the 2nd runner-up in Miss Korea, she was also in the Top 10 finalists at the Miss World 1993 contest held in Sun City Entertainment Center, Sun City, South Africa.

Kim Nam-joo Miss Korea 1992 (Gyeonggi Jin) – Winner from the Gyeonggi Province.
In saying that going to the Miss Korea stage is secretly similar to Miss Grand, that is, there is a provincial beauty pageant first. Despite not winning the national title of Miss Korea 1992, after her stint at the beauty pageant. She rose to stardom in the 1990s due to her impressive acting roles in television series such as Model, The Boss, and Her House. In 2009, she made her comeback with Queen of Housewives, written by Park Ji-eun. Housewives was a rating hit, and Kim went on to collaborate with Park on Queen of Reversals (2010) and the top-rated series My Husband Got a Family, which established Kim's continuing star status. In 2018, Kim received critical acclaim for her role in the series Misty.

Lee Eun-hee Miss Korea 1996 (Jin) – Winner
This lady is the real sister of Korean superstar Lee Byung-hun. Miss Eun-hee entered the movie industry 10 years before her older brother.  Between the ages of 5-13, Miss Lee Eun-hee was a commercial model and television presenter for more than 200 advertisements. There were rumors that she is half-white and a half-sister to Lee Byung-hun
 but Mr. Lee denied the allegations and replied that he looks like their mother meanwhile his younger sister looks like her father.

Kim Sa-rang Miss Korea 2000 (Jin) – Winner
The Miss Korea 2000 stage had many beautiful ladies competing for the national title and Miss Kim Sa-rang became victorious as the main winner in the final event. Kim Sa-rang is considered another person who has prompted the beauty queen industry very much because she is beautiful and elegant. She was also the winner of the Best National Costume Award in the Miss Universe 2001 contest. She is most known for being featured as the actress in Because You're My Woman song by Lee Seung-gi, the original "Noona" that Korean many young men secretly love. Many international Korean drama fans will remember her, Secret Garden 2010 drama where she played Yoon Seul. Her recent acting career was in the popular Korean series Hera, The Goddess of Revenge (2021).

Son Tae-young Miss Korea 2000 (Mi) – 2nd Runner-Up
In 2000, Daegu City's representative beauty Son Tae-young became Mi 2nd Runner-Up during the national final event to Kim Sa-rang. Son represented South Korea at the Miss International 2001 pageant, where she finished the 1st Runner-Up position, along with the photographer's favorite special award. She has acted in dramas such as One Million Roses (2003), Two Wives (2009), You're the Best, Lee Soon-shin (2013), and Into the Flames (2014). Son has been featured in Chinese film as the leading role of a wife with a cheating husband in the Chinese romantic comedy film Love War, opposite Hu Bing and Winston Chao. Many Korean drama fans might know Son Tae-young is the wife of Korean actor Kwon Sang-woo.

Park Si-yeon Miss Korea 2000 (Hanju Travel Agency's favorite)
Although Miss Park did not make a high placement at Miss Korea 2000 beauty pageant, she did manage to have a successful post-career. She made her acting debut in China in 2004, appearing in minor roles in several CCTV dramas. She is very famous for her sexy look when Park Si-yeon entered the industry, she showed off her acting skills in many stories such as My Girl (2005), Coffee House (2010), The Innocent Man (2012), and The Greatest Marriage (2014).

Lee Bo-young Miss Korea 2000 (Daejeon Chungcheong Jin) – Winner from the Daejeon Chungcheong region.
Lee Bo-young, in addition to being a bright actor in the series Seo Dong Yo (2005), I Can Hear Your Voice (2013), as well as this year. She just played in the latest series Mine (2021). She is also the wife of actor Ji Sung. Even though she did not place in the Miss Korea 2000 contest, she manage to recover a great acting success and marry a handsome Korean actor.

Lee Hanee Miss Korea 2006 (Jin) – Winner
Talking about Lee Hanee or Honey Lee a lot at the beginning of the article as she is one of the most well-known Miss Korea winners after her extraordinary performance during the Miss Universe 2007 pageant held in Mexico City, Mexico. Her cute and sexy appearance with a cheerful personality made her an instant fan favorite after finishing 3rd Runner-Up on the final night. Before being a beauty queen, Lee Hanee was a YG Entertainment trainee and she almost became a member of the famous Korean girl band 2NE1. Her impressive acting skills have been noticed by many credible industry experts as she won Best Actress awards twice for her role in The Fiery Priest and One the Woman in the 2019 and 2021 SBS Drama Awards respectively. Lee Hanee has continued with a flourishing post-beauty queen career as a thriving actress in the Korean entertainment industry.

Kim Joo-ri Miss Korea 2009 (Jin) – Winner
Kim Joo-ri is the first Miss Korea to be sent as the South Korean representative for 2 big international pageants: Miss World 2009 and Miss Universe 2010, where she was in the Top 16 semi-finalists on the Miss World stage. She has worked in series such as A Place in the Sun (2019) as Hong Ji-Eun but some of you may be familiar with her from the news that she is a friend of BIGBANG's G-Dragon.

Kim Yu-mi Miss Korea 2012 (Jin) – Winner
Kim Yu-mi is probably the last Miss Korea that many people might remember her face. Because the national costume she wears on the Miss Universe stage is very beautiful. In addition, many people may know her from the series Naeil's Cantabile (2014).

This shows that beauty pageant has given such a great platform for many Korean women who want to join the creative form of acting career after competing on the national stage. Similar to other countries where we have seen many beauty queens who have ended up in prosperous acting professions like Gal Gadot a former Miss Israel 2004, Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai Miss World 1994 winner, and many others.

Who is your favorite Miss Korea? Comment below

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