중앙데일리

Diminutive model rises above his limitations

‘I try not to cover up my small size. Rather, I use it to express my style.’

May 15,2007
Bae Jung-nam models his trade markjeans. [JoongAng Ilbo]
Bae Jung-nam, 24, is a rising star among fashion models. He has not appeared in any movies or dramas, but everyone seems to know him. A visit to his Internet fan site, which has 50,000 members, demonstrates his increasing popularity. Bae appeals to his fans because of his stylishness: a tight-fitting suit-style jacket and his signature well-worn jeans. People have begun to talk about “Bae Jung-nam style” as a specific fashion category.
Typing Bae’s name into the search engines of Internet shopping malls generates hundreds of fashion items related to him. Netizens are wild about his style and post entries like “Where in the world did he find that hat?” From that moment on, the hat is named after him.
The JoongAng Ilbo met with this rising star for some tips on how to be stylish.
“I just have a thing for clothes,” said Bae, with a cold smile, which was a surprising pose for a guy from Busan, where people are known to be friendly.
“When I was in elementary school, my cousins used to dress me up. I didn’t mind, and naturally, I came to be interested in clothes,” Bae said.
However, there are other factors that make youngsters like him.
“I majored in fashion design,” he said. “I hadn’t planned to do that; my decision was based on a suggestion from my high school friends. They weren’t any smarter than me, however, they were accepted at universities. After I got in, I dropped out because it wasn’t for me. Instead, I started selling clothes.”
His stylish fashion items caught people’s attention in Busan.
One of his first regular customers was Kim Min-jun, who is now a popular star but, at that the time, he was unknown. Kim suggested that Bae become a model. In March 2002, Bae appeared in designer Song Jee-oh’s fashion show for the first time. “I thought all models had to be over 180 centimeters (5 feet, 11 inches); this is why I didn’t even think of becoming one. I’m just 177 centimeters,” Bae observed.
By the time he entered the fashion industry he was 22. However, his new life wasn’t easy. The pay was low and he couldn’t see his future unfolding on the catwalk. However, the strong impression he made on people who follow fashion led to the establishment of his official Internet fan club site, just three months after his debut in July 2002.
Bae continuously searched for his own style. In 2003 he came back to Seoul and tried again to become a successful model. He began to appear in many commercials and magazines. This March, he was in the spotlight as Lee Hyo-ri’s partner in the fashion magazine W Korea.
Bae has now become popular throughout the country. Netizens search for his name on the Internet thousands of times every day.
The key to Bae’s appeal seems to be that he is accessible, almost ordinary. He’s not a giant and he even though he’s muscular he is also diminutive, like some male models. Bae knows he is rather diminutive. “I try not to cover up my littleness,” he said. “Instead, I use it to express my style.”
During the interview, Bae was wearing a gray-checkered jacket with a pink tie. He called it “English band style.”
“I don’t favor specific brands though I do look for some overall harmony in colors,” Bae said. “I recommend that people dress in a monochrome palette.”`

By Ghang seung-min JoongAng Ilbo [estyle@joongang.co.kr]



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