On Style is bringing Project Runway Korea to fans. From left, professor and designer Kan Ho-sup, model Lee So-ra and Seokwon Andy Kim, designer and head of ANDY & DEBB, will be the judges. / Yonhap
By Han Sang-hee
Fashion, competition and the catwalk are more than enough to explain model Heidi Klum's internationally popular television reality show, ``Project Runway.'' Starting next year, local fans can watch the Korean version of the trendy program.
Project Runway is a reality show in which aspiring designers compete by completing assignments given by the host and judge Klum. Their clothing is displayed by models walking along the catwalk, and the judges, Klum, fashion designer Michael Kors and former fashion director at ELLE magazine Nina Garcia, decide who will be disqualified.
Project Runway Korea is based on the original format of Project Runway, which is currently broadcast on cable channel On Style. It is the first time a foreign-language popular reality program has been remade in Korea, complete with format, content and style.
While the original show features top model Klum as hostess and judge, the Korean version will bring one of Korea's best-known models, Lee So-ra, back to the small screen.
Lee is considered one of the first supermodels in Korea, winning the first supermodel competition here in 1992. She shot to stardom when she released a diet video and has been out of the spotlight for a long time, becoming CEO of beauty consultant company ``Arose.''
``It's my first time in two and a half years to be back on television. When I heard that On Style was going to make the Korean version of Project Runway, I was very surprised, since it was one of my favorite programs. But when I heard that they wanted me to be the host, I was so thrilled,'' Lee said at a press conference held at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Sangam.
Along with Lee, professor and designer Kan Ho-sup from Hongik University will join as the designers' mentor, as well as Seokwon Andy Kim, designer and head of ANDY & DEBB, as the judge.
``I think I have seen almost every episode of all five seasons. I enjoyed them and I think it's important to recreate the program with Korean sentiment,'' Lee said.
Compared to local reality programs, those from overseas tend to be more popular, maybe because of star power, such as hostesses like Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks. ``By working with the crew from Project Runway, we have learned so much as a channel and also as producers. I believe this will be the perfect chance to upgrade ourselves in coming up with ideas and making high quality shows,'' Kim Je-hyun, executive director at On Style, said.
According to Kim, Fremantle Media, the U.S. distributor that sold the program format to the local channel, was also very strict when shooting, as there were certain guidelines.
``In terms of the number of cameras, filming schedules, including the time allowed for designers to complete assignments, and choosing contestants and judges, we had to follow very strict guidelines. We also had to have special guest judges to surprise viewers,'' Kim added.
Some 500 designers applied for the 14-member cast, and contestants will equally work on assignments and display their work onto the runway, just as in the U.S. version. The remaining three finalists will have the chance to put their works on the 2009 Fall/Winter Seoul Collection and the winner will win 50 million won, a sedan and a fashion spread in fashion magazine ELLE.
``I've never been on a show that was so perfectly prepared. The message is clear. We are offering a dream to up and coming designers,'' Lee said.
Project Runway Korea will be broadcast February next year on On Style.