Aspiring Ballerina Kim Joo-ri Crowned Miss Korea 2009
By Han Sang-hee
Wednesday night was hot and humid, with some places drenched in summer rain, but the 2009 Miss Korea Pageant venue was packed with friends and family waiting to welcome the country's next beauty queen.
Kim Joo-ri, who entered the contest as Miss Seoul, was crowned Miss Korea at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Seoul.
The 21-year-old looked surprised when Chang Jae-ku, the chairman of the Hankook Ilbo Media Group, finally announced her name, but she smiled as she was crowned by former Miss Korea Na Re.
``I am so happy and I thank everybody who has been cheering for me. I'm happy, but I believe this means I will have to try harder to uphold the Miss Korea spirit. I promise I will do my best,'' Kim said.
There were no tears from the new beauty queen, as she happily turned toward the cheering audience and gave the famous Miss Korea walk along the stage, waving and smiling.
A graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet School, Kim enjoys various sports including horseback riding, swimming and golf as well jazz dancing. Fluent in English and Russian, she dreams of becoming a ballerina or a diplomat.
The two first runner-ups were Cha Ye-lin (22, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies) and Seo Eun-mi (21, Yeongnam University). There were four second runner-ups ― Park Ye-ju (22, Parsons School of Design) also crowned as Miss Korea-Natural F&P; Choi Ji-hee (22, Dongduk Women's University) also crowned as Miss Korea-Hankook Ilbo; You Su-jung (21, Mokwon University) and Lee Seul-gi (21, Dongduk Women's University).
Pop group SHINee, SG Wannabe and popera singer Rose Jang also appeared at the venue to celebrate the event, while the contestants showed off their talents by participating in various group performances. From the famous ``chair dance'' that hit the nation by singer Son Dam-bi, to singing and jazz dancing, the 56 contestants showed their best to the cheering audience.
Beautiful and talented young women from around the nation and also overseas metropolises such as New York, Los Angeles, Texas and even Washington D.C. entered the annual contest. While many contestants in the past dreamed of becoming actresses or models, this year showed a slight difference in future careers. Among the 56 contestants, 14 said they wanted to become professors, while seven said they dreamed of becoming CEOs, showing the broad interests these young ladies have for their future.
Former Miss Korea Sohn Tae-young and VJ Lee Ki-sang hosted the 53rd Miss Korea Pageant.
The new Miss Koreas will represent Korea at Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss International Beauty competitions.
The event was organized by the Hankook Ilbo and Sports Hankook, sister papers of The Korea Times. The Korea Times, the Seoul Economic Daily, Hankooki.com and Kids Hankook sponsored the pageant.