Supermodel Lee So-ra, the host of ``Project Runway Korea'' season 2, speaks to reporters during a press conference Monday. The hit fashion reality show will begin airing Jan. 30 at midnight on On Style. / Courtesy of On Media
By Han Sang-hee
Fashion design buffs will get to watch another season of the hit reality show ``Project Runway Korea'' this month on cable channel On Style.
The first season of the Korean version of the American program wrapped up last year with the winner Lee Woo-kyung winning 50 million won, a sedan and a spread in fashion magazine ELLE. The competition will continue with more challenging missions, distinctive contestants and catchy designs. The program joined hands with the Seoul Metropolitan Government for the 11-episode season, giving it an overall boost in size and content.
``I was surprised to see such talented contestants during the first season. It actually made me realize how talented we Koreans are when it comes to making things with our hands,'' supermodel and host Lee So-ra said during a press conference in Myeong-dong, Seoul, Monday.
``When we started auditioning, I realized that there were many people who were preparing just for this show. There were designers who studied specific things to make it to the show and I was very touched.''
Every week, contestants are given a fashion mission. After the judges' evaluation, one of them is named the winner of the challenge, while another is out of the competition. The final three contestants will be given three months to prepare their collection and compete for one last time at Seoul Fashion Week this spring.
Lee will join fellow judges from the previous season once again ― Seokwon Andy Kim, designer and head of ANDY & DEBB, and Shin Yoo-jin, editor-in-chief of ELLE Korea. Hongik University professor Kan Ho-sup will appear as the designers' mentor this year as well.
The second season will feature a number of changes, from the number of contestants, the prizes and special guests. Last year, there were 14 talented designers who competed for the 50 million won prize. This year, the show welcomes 15 contestants vying for a 70 million won prize, plus the sedan and fashion spread.
Watching guest judges will also be a treat, for a number of dazzling stars will pay the show a visit, including Austin Scarlett, a contestant of the first season of Project Runway in the U.S., singers Seo In-young, Tiger JK and actress Lee Hae-young.
``The guest judges are all so special in terms of fashion, so it will be very interesting to watch them evaluate the designs,'' Lee said.
On Style showed highlights of the first episode during the press conference. The program started by showing the busy streets of Seoul, followed by short interviews of the 15 contestants looking nervous but ready. This year's lineup promises to be as colorful as last year's, and includes students, freelance designers and even a 37-year-old who has been running her own boutique in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, for 18 years.
The first mission was for the contestants to create their own look by using vintage clothes brought from around the world, and tension instantly found its way to the sewing room as the aspiring designers started their first project.
``We had no information about the contestants' backgrounds, but when we made our decision, eight out of 15 had studied abroad. I have to admit that these designers had a different way of approaching fashion, and I think this will be a great opportunity for students studying fashion here to learn more,'' Lee explained.
The first season of ``Project Runway Korea'' made headlines last year for being the first remake based entirely on the original. The program's international distributor, FremantleMedia, made sure the Korean version looked the same as the original, from the camera angles and lighting to the number of cameras. The local version proved to be a huge hit, remaining on top for 11 consecutive weeks in viewer ratings.
``Project Runway Korea'' season 2 will start Jan. 30 at midnight on On Style.