MEET: Han Vi Kim, rising star in Filipino-Korean fashion

HSBC Philippines
Han Vi Kim
24-year-old Filipino-Korean fashion designer, Han Vi Kim, shares the story behind her fashion collection of modern fusion of the Filipino Terno and Korean Hanbok.

“Welcome to my life – hwan-yeongbuhay,” says Han Vi Kim of the inspiration of her collection presented at her design school graduation show.

Han Vi Kim is a fast-rising designer who is making her mark in the fashion industry with her modern take on the traditional national dress of her Filipino-Korean heritage – the Filipiniana terno and the Korean Hanbok.

Good News Pilipinas (GNP) interviewed Han Vi Kim about her inspiration and projections in her career path and found more inspiring stories behind her fashion collection. Read on.

Filipino-Korean heritage

Han Vi Kim is from both gyeongsangbuk-do province, Gyeongju City and Ligao City, Albay. Photo from Han Vi Kim.

The 24-year-old Han Vi, who traces her lineage to a Korean father and a Filipina mother, is a Korean citizen from gyeongsangbuk-do province in Gyeongju City but grew up in the Philippines, specifically in Ligao City, Albay. Han Vi shared she goes to Korea when needed.

The budding fashion designer graduated with a degree in Communication from the University of Santo Tomas-Legazpi (formerly Aquinas University of Legazpi).

Han Vi then took up 2 years of Fashion Design and Marketing at the School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA) Design Institute in Makati City as her second course. The SoFA Gradshow was where Han Vi Kim showcased her Filipino-Korean fusion dresses.

“When it comes to my career path my parents gave me the freedom to choose whatever my course will be,” Kim told GNP.

SoFA Gradshow

The Filipiniana terno and Korean Hanbok dresses showcased at the SoFA Gradshow became audience favorites. Collage of photos from Jionor Verona.

When asked about her inspiration of her SoFA Gradshow collection, Kim said, “When you look closer to my creations, you’ll be able to see that each of them is a fusion of my bloodline, Filipino and Korean” she shared.

“With this fusion, I somehow give back to my roots. When it comes to being proud, I am very proud of my blood for both of it made me who I am now,” added Kim.

The design of one dress had the hand-painted Philippine indigenous alphabet Alibata, the English alphabet, and Korean characters that represent the languages she knows. She talks to her father in the Korean language, speaks to her “Mama” in Bicolano and English.

Design sketches of Han Vi Kim’s fashion collection, courtesy of Han Vi Kim.

Another dress has a belt shaped like a coconut leaf with cherry blossoms. The coconut design is a tribute to Albay which boasts of a large coconut industry while the cherry blossoms honor Korea.

“The colors were also representation of my emotions, wherein I used LED lights to give emphasis. And fishes to represent me, that I need to have my own restrictions with the freedom given to me,” Kim revealed.

Her SoFA fashion collection was titled “Imbalance” because of the fusion look. Kim shared that she actually prefers the original title which is “hwan-yeongbuhay” a fusion of “hwan-yeong” means welcome and “buhay” which means life, thus it means “welcome to my life”.

Unexpected blessings

Han Vi Kim leading her models at the SoFA Gradshow. Photo from Jionor Verona.

Kim also expressed her gratitude with the attention her work is getting as she did not expect to be featured by local writers and celebrities. “I feel humbled, proud, blessed and challenged. Humbled and proud because people saw something special in my collection that they loved. Blessed, because of the support that the local writers give just to feature my collection, and challenged because people will be expecting new things from me,” she explains.

“The journey will never be easy. We will all start like a croquis; a sketch that needs time to be designed. But every step is worth it so never give up – “pogi hajimaseyo – wag susuko” is in fact her motto.,” says the young fashion designer.

The world of fashion will definitely hear more from Han Vi Kim as she aspires to next open a studio in her hometown, Albay, join a Korea Fashion show, and try her hand at designing jewelries.

Han Vi Kim reveals she uses LED Lights to illuminate details of her dress designs. Photo from Han Vi Kim.

Variations of the Filipino terno have been designed for the Philippines’ beauty pageant candidates, among them, Emma Tiglao’s national costume for the Miss Intercontinental pageant and Michelle Dee’s Sun Princess national costume for Miss World.

Alden Richards had taken photos wearing the Korean hanbok after he received his Asian Star Prize from South Korea.

Philippine-Korea relations was celebrated in the first Korea-Pinoy International Film Festival held this year.

South Korea is scheduled to promote tourism for Filipinos with the visa-free entry program.

With reports from Angie Quadra-Balibay and Ronarose Mae Vicencio.

SEND congratulations to Hanvi Kim for her extraordinary design fusion that honor her Filipino and Korean heritage!

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The Good News Pilipinas Team
The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.