It all started last month when Japan began placing restrictions on exports to South Korea on three chemicals commonly used to manufacture computer chips. Then, all hell broke loose between the two countries. It was all basically trade and political issues but it unfortunately spilled over to, well, beauty pageants.
Recently, the Miss Korea organizations has announced that for the first time since 1960, Korea will not be participating at Miss International. This year’s pageant will be held in Tokyo, on November 12th. Insiders have told Missosology that the Miss Korea organization is under pressure from the current political climate as well as from sponsors to boycott the Japanese-owned Miss International.
Among the Big5 pageants, Korea is relatively successful at Miss International although it hasn’t won the crown yet. It has two first runners-up – Seo Eun-mi in 2009 and Son Tae-young in 2000. From 1991 to 1998 Korea has consistently made it to the semis which is a clear evidence that Miss International places a high regard to Korean beauty.
The recent trade and political schism between Japan and South Korea has already awakened the nationalistic fervor. Korea’s colonial past under the Japanese Empire remains a touchy issue. The Japanese meanwhile looks warily as Korean companies are getting more innovative and popular.
Korea boycotting Miss International is just a part of a very long list of political dramas within the world of pageantry. Think about the anti-apartheid boycotts, the Amina Lawal issue, Turkey skipping Miss Universe 2000 and the usual commotion when a Miss Israel is photographed next to a Miss Lebanon. Beauty pageants are supposed to be a haven for all the political noise but sadly, the reality says otherwise.