"Growing sideways has made me taller."
Everybody loves an underdog. The illustrious, mysterious boy at the back of the class. The misfit. It is often the most interesting of boys who are disregarded at school; the boys who make the best talkers, lovers and dreamers. We like to make it a habit of ours to get to know these sort of boys a little bit better - they are good to learn from.
Alongside his cover shoot for Issue 9 "Growing Sideways"
, captured by Cecilie Harris
, you soon learn that there is so much more to Sang Woo Kim
at Select Model Management than his strong face you usually see on posters in shops and on the tube - indefinitely captured moment of monochromatic happiness. There are intricacies, things that make him tick, words he loves, fondness and familiarity in the family and friends that surround him. His woes, his adventures. In this very honest interview for our latest issue, he gives a real insight into the world from his perspective, the love story of his parents and the things that can make you grow.
Below are a few extracts from his interview in the 14-page editorial. To read the full story and see all the pretty pictures, you can pick up a copy of Issue 9 in stores or online
Instant analogue by Cecilie Harris. Special thanks to IMPOSSIBLE.
Who is Sang in a nutshell?
Empathy. I genuinely feel like that is a word I feel strongly for. When I was growing up I was a young Korean boy living in a British culture, and no one could really empathise with that. I found it quite difficult, because I couldn’t truly relate to anyone. It was like being split between two languages and two cultures, and I had to compromise all the time. If I wanted to make my parents happy I wouldn’t go on nights out with my British friends, because they didn’t want me to do that, so I was stuck between disappointing my parents or my friends - I was always constantly torn between the two. I think this made me very empathetic to everyone else. I could understand how they were feeling, but no one could really understand my world.
I love your sense of humour, you are not afraid to make fun of yourself.
I think it is more the fact that I’m very comfortable in my own skin and know myself very well. I feel like a completely different person to who I was last year, because in such a short period of time I have probably met more people than I ever imagined meeting in my whole life. You don’t really know what life is until you break out of that little bubble you are in at university. Me leaving college and doing modelling helped me realise a lot.
We were talking about when you were the only Korean kid at school and everyone thought you were weird.
Yeah, they just didn’t know any better and I didn’t know any better. I thought that would be the way life was always going to be, and I felt like a bit of an outsider. If you see something different you are startled or taken back, but that is how it is. Then when I started studying art at college, all the students were so accepting. Essentially they had all been ‘the other kid’, everyone had experienced being different and ‘weird’ - the loser that was in the dark room everyday who stunk of chemicals. In this new environment everybody was doing the same thing and interested in the same music and art, so everybody was overwhelmed
and thought life was amazing. That was a whole different bubble. Me breaking out of it has made me realise how much I appreciate art, but also that I need to be realistic in addition to dreaming. Dreaming is an amazing thing though.
You mentioned parenting as a kind of peer pressure earlier.
I think it is an Asian parenting thing. They had very strict ways, and the relationship you have with Asian parents is based on respect and honour. You want to make your parents happy, so you’ll only do and say what will make them happy. They would always want to shape me in a certain direction, but now they will give an opinion instead of an order, which shows they trust and respect my opinion. That was a massive change in our relationship, because the conflict with culture and not being able to understand each other turned into a mutual understanding, which is amazing.
Intro by Molly Rose Baker.
Issue 9 interview by Cecilie Harris.