Lee Sung-hye, a 23-year-old fashion student, was crowned the 2011 Miss Korea at the Sejong Arts Centre in Seoul on Aug 3.
Lee, who stands at 170cm with a 35-25-35 figure, emerged victorious among the 54 contestants at the 2011 Miss Korea Pageant. Lee received the much-coveted tiara from last year’s winner, Jung Sora.
Lee, who majors in fashion design at the Parsons School of Design in New York, will go on to represent South Korea in the upcoming Miss World and Miss Universe pageants.
An aspiring CEO of a fashion company, Lee is also a skilled Korean traditional dancer.
On Wednesday’s show, Lee said, “I respect fashion designer Vera Wang the most. I really liked the goddess-themed dress from this pageant. Since I’m studying fashion design, I would like to one day design a dress using Hanbok (traditional Korean dress).”
She continued, “I learned a lot through a variety of activities overseas, so I’m sure I’ll be competitive enough to promote Korea globally. I’ll do my best to spread Korea’s beauty around the world in the coming year.”
Most Miss Korea winners and finalists go on to pursue careers in the entertainment or fashion industry, so no one will be surprised to see Lee Sung Hae on TV in the near future.
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.
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.
The show started off with all 54 women performing the cancan so well that 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, singing “Singing in the Rain.”
After dancing to “Hot Honey Rag”, the contestants sang the Miss Korea Anthem before starting the swimsuit parade.
Actor Shin Hyeon-jun and actress Yu Sun were on the receiving end of 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.