Daul Kim: One Sassy ‘n Smart Bitch

daul kimFamiliar with Korean supermodel Daul Kim? If not, you probably should because she can provide hours of procrastinating entertainment.

Aside from being a supermodel, Kim keeps a fascinating and entertaining blog, I Like To Fork Myself, which she updates on a regular basis. Her blog defies the idea of models as empty-headed mannequins. I mean, her posts aren’t exactly scholarly material, but there are some gems hidden amongst her cryptic one-liner posts and her non-sensical poetic entries. Her posts are a mish-mash of photos of her and her friends engaging in various day-to-day things (dress up! watermelon cocktails!), semi-analytical reflections on pop culture and in this case, an angry letter to Koreans about the backlash she received after shooting a nude editorial set for i-D Magazine back in June.

In her post, she says:

seriously korean ppl
stop bullying me

i dont owe you anything
and you dont own me

i respect korean culture as much as possible
im proud to be korean

sometimes i can be ab noxious i know,
but nudity in fashion can’t be considered ab noxious

ok did i ever have a dirty scandal? no
did i ever slut around? no
is i-D porn? no

do you guys bitch when you see a Caucasian model nude?
a japanese girl nude? a black girl nude?

and when its korean girl nude, you guys get made angry
and i can be blonde, red, pink haired if i want. im not trying to be anything else
i have every right to do what i want. if a white girl colours her hair black, do u say “oh shes trying to be asian”?

its so silly to restrict korean girl has to be a certain way
this is superiority complex and complex is not….flattering

I kind of love her for this post.  I think it’s an important one. Kim pits the oppression she faces as a Korean woman against those of other women of colour, which is definitely problematic. Her comment on Japanese and black women not getting flack for nudity is especially troubling because it is precisely the hyper-sexualization and exoticism that these women face that don’t get them in as much trouble. It is “expected” of Japanese and black women to be nude and sexual, at our service and convenience. However, her points on the expectations of Korean women to fit a certain prototype is something many racialized women struggle with.

Unfortunately for those who participated in the backlash against her, as a model, Kim’s body is what is valued and put on display for the world. And that is the reality of the modeling world. What is comforting, though, is that Kim seems to have a pretty strong sense of her self and her needs. She is smart, quirky and kinda just does her own thing.

My favourite Daul Kim post is this one, where she manages to compare Japanese manga Akira to science-fiction thriller, Tetsuo, get angry about Japanese colonialism in Korea and remind us that “official” history classes and textbooks don’t tell us the whole truth. I also enjoyed her pictures-only commentary on girl-on-girl hate. Never mind that she counters this social problem with a photo of the Spice Girls, the immortal and misrepresentative symbol of feminism. Despite a lot of her eyebrow-raising content, I still really like her.

[ EDITORS UPDATE: RIP Model Daul Kim ]

(Photo credit: I Like To Fork Myself.)

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About Teresa

Teresa is a queer Chinese/Taiwanese daughter, sister, friend and lover. She has spent half of her life in Taiwan and the other half in Canada. She currently resides in Toronto, where she spends her time making zines, writing stories and working at a feminist bookstore.
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