Interview Gissella Ramirez-Valle, Photos Kwon Taejun
Styling Mauro Locatelli, Hair & Makeup Kim Sojeong
Tell us about how you grew up.
YURI: I was born in Ubezkistan. After middle school my family moved to Russia. When I was a child I played the saxophone and took part in a lot of musical concerts. I was also a professional swimmer until high-school so I traveled around to Germany, Austria, China, Japan, and the United Emirates for swim competitions. It was tough growing up because I was the only Asian kid around and I got into a lot of fights at school, but over time things got better. After high-school I went into the army and after that I came to Korea to continue my studies.
You have a unique trajectory! how did you join ESteem Models?
YURI: The idea of modeling first came into my head when I was around 12. I started to take a lot of photos as a hobby. About two years ago, after coming to Korea, I went into a studio and took self-portraits using a timer. I put together a portfolio and submitted it personally to Esteem. One of the managers there told me that no one had ever been casted this way before, but that they wanted to start working with me right away.
we first met you at Seoul Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016 after you closed the Heich Es Heich runway show...We heard that you had only learned to ride a hoverboard on that same day! Were you nervous?
YURI: The day before the show MR. HEICH called me and said, “Yuri, you have to come to the showroom today to practice something. Do you know how to ride a skateboard?” I said without hesitating, “Yes! Of course!” So I went to the showroom and he told me I had one hour to practice riding a hoverboard to prepare for the finale. I was like, “Oh, will I close the show?” So I practiced for an hour and then I practiced again for 30 minutes right before the runway show. The thought of falling never went through my mind.
It sounds like you were not nervous at all! Have you ever been nervous on the runway?
YURI: My first time walking at Hera Seoul Fashion Week was for the Spring/Summer 2016 season. It was for pushBUTTON. I was very nervous before walking but during the walk I thought, “Yeah this is what I want.” This is why I started modeling. The feeling of everyone looking at you— it’s exciting. For the Fall/Winter 2016 season I walked a few more shows but I think I still need to work on my walk and posing and all of that. This upcoming season will be even better!
You starred in a K-pop music video. Any funny anecdote you’d like to share about the filming?
YURI: During the shooting of FREE SOMEBODY I asked Luna if she spoke English and she replied that she didn’t. So while we shot the elevator scene, the date scene, we didn’t talk about anything (laughs). It was kind of awkward. But after that she tried to communicate with me in English and I spoke Korean to her.
You’re currently enrolled in Korea University taking up International Studies. Why did you choose that major?
YURI: When you study International Studies at Korea University you have a chance to learn many languages, so many doors can open this way. I’m most comfortable speaking Russian and I honestly only started learning English and Korean after enrolling in school and signing with ESteem.
How do you balance out your studies with castings and shoots?
YURI: During Seoul Fashion Week, you have to go there every day for a full week and in school you are only allowed 5 absences or you fail. So basically after Seoul Fashion Week you cannot miss any more classes so yeah it’s been really hard to keep up. I stay up until late studying and doing homework often. I’m happy that I completed this past semester successfully but I think that it’s impossible to study while growing in the modeling industry at the same time.
We noticed that you’re also running a photography account On instagram. What is it that you hope to capture in each photograph?
YURI: I love shooting humans. I like capturing expressions and emotions. I try to capture the soul of the person I shoot and these days I understand how models feel. I don’t like taking pictures of landscapes. I wanted to become a fashion photographer that works for a famous magazine, but I don’t think it’s possible anymore because my vision has transformed into something different.
What's next for Park Yury?
YURI:My goal now is to become something more than a model. I'd like to grow as an actor or a singer. I'd like to become a solo singer. I think I have a good chance now. I have to improve how I emote and also I have to improve my handle of the Korean language. Some advice I can share with others is that the first step is to have confidence and show everyone who you are and what you can do.
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