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The New Names You Need to Know From Korea's Fashion Scene

Check out their fearless style.

by Seph Asong | Feb 5, 2018

Patrick Kim, Joo Won Dae, Lee Ju Yeon, Kim Eun Ji, and Choi Hong Jun are the five personalities who are currently at the helm of South Korea's fashion scene.

Being a powerhouse nation and the world’s fifth largest economy, South Korea has a lot of free time and money to burn when it comes to experimenting and creating some of the most noteworthy trends we’ve seen in the past few years. Korea’s attempt at becoming Asia’s fashion capital shouldn’t be a surprise as it has successfully disseminated some of the most infectious cultural trends around the world, and we’re not talking about K-pop or any genre of film or television; it’s about buying into an entirely Korean aesthetic and way of life.

In Seoul, K-pop stars are considered gods of fashion and their influence in street style is evident all throughout the capital.

The Korean wave, more commonly known as Hallyu, started to peak back in 2009. It started with K-pop idol groups like Super Junior and SHINee, then came SNSD, Big Bang, and 2NE1, and the now-globally famous boy group BTS that's been taking the western world by storm. Top rating Korean TV series like Running Man, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo, Descendants of the Sun, to name a few, also flooded Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, and the rest of Asia Pacific—extending all the way to the U.S. and Europe.

In Seoul, K-pop stars are considered gods of fashion and their influence in street style is evident all throughout the capital. You’ll see young and old recreating the idol-like look, from their hairstyle to the brand of clothes they wear. K-pop is all about the overall image, which is the reason why most Koreans invest so much on cosmetics and fashion. This has paved the way for Korean streetwear brands and designers to flourish and get noticed by the heavyweights on a global stage. Now that Seoul Fashion Week has gained international traction and has become the most anticipated fashion event in the country, more and more Koreans are starting to veer away from K-pop and shift towards other cultural platforms such as the underground hiphop scene, eccentric genres of art and film, and even photography for inspiration on how to create their own unique style and identity.

Let’s take a deeper look at Seoul’s thriving fashion community and get to know the five style purveyors who are quickly earning a name for themselves when it comes to defying and redefining Korea’s street fashion.

Patrick Kim

Meet 22-year-old Patrick Kim, who considers himself a global citizen as he has lived pretty much everywhere: Liverpool, London, Milan, Paris, Dubai, Bangkok, and now, back in Seoul with a mission to break the stereotype in Korean modeling. “Korea’s modeling industry favors those with [a] boy-next-door look as they can easily be marketed as actors (and as an idol if they can sing). I want to challenge the status quo and help open the door for male models with unique features,” says Patrick.


When Patrick returned to his home country, he was supposed to get enlisted in the military service but his fashion designer friend asked him to model for his show and it eventually kicked off his career. Since then, he's walked the runways of Milan, London, and Paris. Patrick’s biggest milestone was opening for Canadian haute couture designer Rad Hourani during Paris Fashion Week.

Being a fashion model, it’s a given that Patrick knows how to dress well, and with his diverse background in European fashion, he was able to create a fusion. “My personal style is minimalist. I hate wearing colorful outfits that scream K-pop all over. I like to keep it clean and simple yet polished, and I think that’s what sets a style-savvy individual apart from someone who’s trying to copy a certain style. It’s good that people are inspired by what they see on TV or magazines, but they need to start discovering their individuality and sticking to it,” Patrick explained.

“I’m predominantly inspired by the works of Raf Simons, which is why I like wearing all white or black. It’s very classic and it allows people to pay more attention to my features rather than what I wear,” he adds.

Now that Korea is getting all the attention it deserves, the world of fashion is getting more diverse and inclusive. "Compared to how things were in the past, I think a lot of fashion designers and big brands can now differentiate Koreans from Chinese and Japanese. Back then, New York or Paris thought all Asians look the same but now it’s completely a different story."

Now that Korea is getting all the attention it deserves, the world of fashion is getting more diverse and inclusive.

Joo Won Dae

South Korea’s streetwear scene used to be small and secretive, but with so many promising local brands, the tide is beginning to turn. All thanks to the multi-hyphenate Koreans who strive to be better in all creative aspects like the 26-year-old, six-foot emcee, singer, and model-turned-fashion designer, Joo Won Dae.

Won Dae was part of a Korean TV show, which boosted his popularity and eventually got him into hosting and modeling, but just like any artist, he had a hard time staying focused on one thing. Then came the idea of creating his own clothing line. He may be a newcomer in the industry but there’s no doubt that he is a huge force to be reckoned with as his designs are being worn by the big boys of K-pop like Jin and Jungkook of BTS, GOT7’s Park Jin Young, Henry Lau, and even the late Jonghyun of SHINee to name a few.


“I get inspiration from everywhere, like the latest trends I read from Hypebeast and F*cking Young, Korean and Japanese pop culture, music, art—everything, basically. I don’t like being ‘basic’. I always want to be different and standout,” says Won Dae. With his edgy attitude and a personality that can pull off any outfit, Won Dae is by no means restricted to any style. “Occasionally, I go super minimalist but mostly you’ll see me in the streets of Seoul rocking outrageously colorful edgy outfits.”

Joo Won Dae made headlines last year with Hypebeast’s fashion report on the five best collections from Seoul Fashion Week S/S 2018, where he walked for streetwear brand D-Antidote. We will definitely be seeing more of him at this year’s SFW and we can’t wait.

Lee Ju Yeon

Minimalist fashion is really a thing in SoKor and people who have visited the country at least once know this. But with the high demand to come up with something fresh, Korea’s rebellious and experimental fashion is being reciprocated and adored by high-spirited and style-driven millennials like the 26-year-old fashion major and model, Ju Yeon.

Her style is Vogue-esque with appreciation for the hypebae look to bring out that youthful swagger. But during the interview, Ju Yeon insisted that although people see her as high fashion, she still tries to incorporate her own thing. She jokingly said, “My peers always say I look put together and edgy but I personally try to balance things out. I don’t go with prints as much as possible and stick to dark colors with plain styling, but one or two of my pieces need to stand out, either my top or my bottom.”

“Korean fashion is fast-paced. What’s trending now could be passé the next day. Yes, I check trends to get myself updated but I don’t really follow them. I guess we are lucky to be at the forefront of Asia’s emerging fashion destination where you can dress up however you like and won’t get frowned upon,” she eagerly expressed. And this is quite true as one of Korea’s biggest talent agencies, YG, sits comfortably at the heart of the Mapo-gu—a neighborhood, a place that breathes life into street art, indie music, fashion, and K-pop. Korea’s fashion and entertainment sectors, together with the government at large, work hand in hand to promote the culture of creativity and diversity.


Last year, Ju Yeon was a cover girl for Mutzine, an independent Korean fashion and culture magazine which was created as a response to the growing Korean wave phenomenon. Since then, modeling gigs and various projects started pouring in for Ju Yeon, which she willingly took as a sign that Korea’s fashion landscape is definitely evolving at a rapid rate; always seeking for men and women who are hungry to go global and bring a totally different Korean identity free from K-pop.

Ju Yeon knows that she’s being looked up to as a style influencer. Her advice to those who want to get into the scene is to have fun, but at the same time be aggressive in discovering new ways to elevate yourself.

Kim Eun Ji

It was below zero during the outdoor shoot but she proceeded to pose in front of the camera without any hesitation, unbothered by the piercing cold.

A unique style and a contagious personality—that’s how we would describe the 26-year-old model Eun Ji, who walked for high fashion brand Nasty Habit at the SFW Spring/Summer 2018. “There are actually three stages of SFW (S1, S2, and S3), S1 being the biggest show where all major designers and brands are part of and I was one of the few who got chosen for S1, which was a big deal for me because it’s really difficult to get in,” says Eun Ji.

It won’t really take long for anyone to figure out what style she’s into. With her edgy look and that whole “I-will-eat-you-alive” vibe tells us she favors the street chic look inspired by her love for high street fashion. It was below zero during the outdoor shoot but she proceeded to pose in front of the camera without any hesitation, unbothered by the piercing cold.

“Funky. That’s the best way to describe my style. I like to experiment and try new styles every chance I get since my job requires me to be exposed to a wide array of fashion but I’m always drawn to street culture. There’s something about Korean streetwear that always pushes the envelope further. When we talk about streetwear, New York comes to mind first and that’s because most of the heritage brands and OG titans in the fashion industry are in NYC. However, Korea has its own take and interpretation. Of course, we’re inspired by what we see in America but then we always try to make it uniquely Korean,” according to Eun Ji when asked to describe her style. “Which brings me to another point. It’s not about wearing Supreme or Gucci. In fact, streetwear is all about the ‘attitude.’ I like wearing small independent brands because they’re not too commercial and they provide exclusivity to the wearer,” she adds.


When we talk about streetwear, New York comes to mind first and that’s because most of the heritage brands and OG titans in the fashion industry are in NYC. However, Korea has its own take and interpretation.

Choi Hong Jun

“I like black…a lot,” says 24-year old model and aspiring actor Hong Jun, who got scouted to be a model when he appeared in a popular KBS prime time show. Currently signed with AConic Talent Management in Korea, he is preparing to eventually join the mainstream showbiz and debut as an actor. “For now, the focus is modeling since I’m fairly new in this arena compared to my seniors. In fact, I only started getting serious about this after I finished my service in the military. This year, the big goal is Seoul Fashion Week and [to] walk for Givenchy."

Though Hong Jun is typically identified as the “boy-next-door” type of guy, he tries to be more well-rounded when it comes to fashion. He likes the underground hiphop scene in Korea because of its distinct rebellious vibe that can’t be found in any pop culture at the moment—and that mixture of bad boy yet visually pleasing element is pretty much reflective of how he dresses up. Of course, he prefers black. “I really don’t know why black is such a thing in Korean fashion right now but my theory, and I think a lot of people would agree, [is] that black is versatile. You can easily mix and match your clothes without getting obsessed if it will look good on you or not. I don’t know about you guys but I love black. It’s very classic and stylish,” says Hong Jun.

“It’s really hard to describe my style but I think it’s not your usual street look that boasts strong colors and edgy outfits. I prefer laid-back clothes like hoodies and jeans paired with a Givenchy coat, and that’s it. Even with my hairstyle, I just want to look good without being over the top. That’s why [the] bowl cut is perfect for me,” he adds.

Being experimental is by no means new to these guys, but we’re seeing a spike, especially with the younger crowd, that signifies a shift in Korean fashion. It's something that's completely free from the K-pop genre to which they have been anchored on for a very long time. Fashion is evolving in all parts of the globe, but Korea is one of those places where everyone wants to challenge the stereotype. Taking notes from both subculture and mainstream movements, Koreans are starting to dish out something in between. Their attempt to bring together different genres of fashion is an indication of their commitment to push the limit of style.


Special thanks to Stallion Entertainment and Kim Hyuk of A.Conic.