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(Yonhap Interview) Mrs. Korea rediscovers family value through pageant for married women

All Headlines 12:00 March 14, 2016

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- For the Korean representative of the Mrs. World Pageant, competing in the global beauty contest for married women was a journey to find her true self through friendship with empowered women from across the world.

Choi Eun-hye, a 38-year-old make-up artist, won the title of Mrs. World Korea last year to take part in the 27th Mrs. World Pageant that ran from March 1-12 in Dongguan, a southeastern Chinese city, in which she took third place.

The mother of two kids said making efforts to live up to the high standard was not easy as she had to juggle between her job and family in the run-up to the two-week event.

"Looking back upon the overall process, I'm glad I jumped into the new chance and achieved something," Choi said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency after the final. "The most important part was I set a goal and learned something from the experience beyond my comfort zone."

Unlike other pageants that mostly open up the door for young, single women, Choi said Mrs. World puts much higher priority on family, which made her rethink her relationship with her parents.

Choi hadn't seen her father for 15 years after he separated with her mother while she was a teen. It was only recently that her father reached out to her while lying in a hospital bed following liver surgery.

"When I first saw him again after more than a decade, I was like, 'Why did he want to see me only after he got sick?'" she said. "I grumbled at him at first and couldn't get along with him. But as time passed, I realized that he is the one who made me exist in this world and could look back on my days without him."

Choi said standing in the top league was more than she imagined from the pageant.

"I was surprised when I won the title of Mrs. Korea, and even more surprised by becoming No. 3 in this event," she said. "I'm here to represent Korean beauty and serve as a culture ambassador because the next event will be held in my home country."

Although it's not easy for married women to take care of their appearances through maternity and aging, she said it's even harder to keep their inner strength and elegance through hardship in life.

"The most important thing is how to enjoy the challenge, and find true inner beauty, which is harder to foster than the physical look," Choi said.

South Korea will host the next event from Sept. 20-Oct. 4, with the western port city of Incheon and southern port city Busan currently competing to host the event, according to the organizing committee.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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