Miss International 2022 will go down in history as the only instance in recent memory when only a single Asian made it to semis. It is as if several years of the pageant’s love affair with Asian candidates suddenly came into halt after its pandemic hiatus. Thailand was left out as well as India. Indonesia despite strong showing failed to make it. Traditional semifinalists such as Korea and Japan did not make the first cut too. The only survivor of this onslaught was Philippines and yet, she never progressed past the Top 15.

With the adoption of a brand new crown came very strong winds of change at Miss International. It was just weeks before the finals night when the new tiara was unveiled in Vietnam and everyone thought Miss Vietnam Pham Ngoc Phuong Anh will be in the semis out courtesy to the Vietnamese sponsor. And even if the crown sponsorship was taken out of the equation, hopes were high for Pham Ngoc Phuong Anh. Thanks to her rigorous training regimes she has mesmerizing catwalk skills. Her undeniable beauty with striking Asian features were supposed to gain the nod of the judges.

Miss Vietnam Phạm Ngọc Phương Anh during the swimsuit preliminaries

Pham Ngoc Phuong Anh made indelible impressions not only during the finals night but during the swimsuit prelims as well. She looked sweet and demure as she sashayed onstage wearing her swimsuit. Her mile long legs and her curvy shape complemented her long straight hair. Her shimmering pink gown during the finals looked elegant and the way she twirled the cape provided a subtle élan. Her performance as a whole should be more than enough to make it to the Top 15.

However, Vietnam has a Miss International problem to solve. Ever since the country debuted in 1995, it has a protracted campaign at the pageant. It failed to send a representative from 1997-2002, from 2004-2005 and in 2012. All through those years, the country landed in the semis in only 4 instances with a third runner-up finish in 2015 as its highest placement. Comparing this performance with Vietnam’s achievements in other relevant major international pageants, the country has a bigger chance making it to the semis of the other Big5 Pageants than at Miss International. 

Still, the results of Miss International 2022 was a shocker. The pageant failed to seize the moment to make history like crowning its first African winner. The Asian “shutdown”  (or partial shutdown) had been the talk of pageantry grapevine for quite sometime. Fans and pageant analysts alike were unable to grasp the reason why so many strong Asian candidates were left out. So many theories were provided even to the point where they questioned the relevance and integrity of Miss International. And then, Miss Universe 2022 happened. But that’s another story for another day. 

Miss Vietnam Phạm Ngọc Phương Anh during the casual wear prelims