|Right: Indonesian model Ayuma, center, with Asia Model Festival Organizing Committee (AMFOC) President Yang Eui-sig, right, after Ayuma won the 2019 Face of Asia Grand Prize in Seoul on Friday. Left: Palash from Bangladesh, center, with model-turned-professor Kim Dong-su, left, and Korea Model Association President Lim Joo-wan, after winning the 2019 Face of Asia Male Model Award. Courtesy of AMFOC|
Models from China, Bangladesh become runner-ups
By Kang Hyun-kyung
"The Grand Prize goes to No. 23 Ayuma from Indonesia!"
When Joshua Moon, one of two MCs of the 2019 Face of Asia final contest, named Ayuma as the winner of this year's Face of Asia contest Friday night, many audience members concurred with the decision.
Few had doubts about the selection because Ayuma had been one of the favorites for the Grand Prize since the contest kicked off in May with the Boot Camp opening ceremony.
The Indonesian model is tall and thin with an enviable physique, and was sociable and optimistic. She showed great confidence throughout the contest.
During the final competition, her name was called three times ― first for a sponsor's award, then as one of the Top 10 finalists out of the 75 contestants, and lastly as the winner of this year's Face of Asia.
When the MCs asked if there were any contestants among the Top 10 models chosen who wanted to talk about how they felt about being a candidate for the Grand Prize, Ayuma was the only one to share her feelings. She said she felt great about participating in the international competition and expressed her appreciation to the people who helped her.
Her positive thinking was striking during an interview with The Korea Times, Thursday, a day before the final contest.
As a Muslim, she said she had to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as the weeks-long competition, including the two-week-long Boot Camp, coincided with the period of fasting for observant Muslims. She said observing Ramdan was the most memorable part since she arrived in Seoul for the competition.
"From 3 a.m. until 8 p.m., I didn't eat anything. I didn't drink, either," she said. "But I had no problems keeping up with the packed schedule with the other models because I truly enjoyed the contest. I think I was blessed because I was able to be part of such an amazing contest."
When asked if she ate a lot after sunset, as ordinary Muslims do during Ramadan, she laughed and said, "It was already 8 p.m., so I tried not to eat too much."
Ayuma said she learned a lot from the weeks-long contest. "I learned how to be disciplined and how to cooperate with other contestants during the Boot Camp. Being a contestant also required me to take responsibility for my deeds and every act. The past weeks since I arrived in Korea were just incredible."
Before the Face of Asia contest, Ayuma had already walked the runway at Jakarta Fashion Week. She was one of the new faces discovered for the 2019 fashion week, held in Indonesia in collaboration with the Face of Asia contest organizers.
|Guan Ruyi of China wins the Face of Asia Female Model Award. Courtesy of AMFOC|
In the Face of Asia contest, the runner-ups were Guan Ruyi of China who took home the Face of Asia Female Model Award and Palash of Bangladesh who was chosen for the Face of Asia Male Model Award.
Seventy-five models from 27 countries participated in the contest. Ten of them were named as finalists, while 15 were chosen for sponsor awards. The Modeltainer Award went to Japan's Adi Beza. Chui Lin from Singapore won the Passion Award for her passionate pursuit of becoming a professional model, and Myanmar's Baby was given the Friendship Award.
Kim Dong-su, a professor of Dongduk Women's University in Seoul, said she believes all of the Top 3 models are internationally competitive.
"I know each country uses different standards, albeit slightly, to select models. In South Korea, for example, judges prefer tall and thin models," she said. "But some Asian countries prefer models who are a little bit curvy. So there are sort of cultural differences that play out behind the selections. Selection standards also slightly different, depending on what kinds of models they are selecting. Will the winners work in high fashion or will they be runway models, or commercial models? There are several factors that are in judges' minds when they make their selections."
The model-turned-professor said the Face of Asia judges used "international standards" when they selected the Top 10 and Top 3 models, noting the selection process was fair and transparent.
"I was one of the four people who were asked to check with the judges regarding their final list of winners before the winners were named. I thought their selections made sense and were merit-based and there was no room for disputes," she said.
Considering Korean culture has a strong presence in other Asian countries, Kim said, the Top 3 winners will see a career boost after they return to their home countries. "I know some of the past winners went on to get opportunities in Europe and North America after winning Face of Asia titles. So there's no doubt that this year's winners will be able to have many opportunities at home and abroad," she said.