"I was born in Korea, but my family moved to Anaheim, California—where Disneyland is—when I was ten. Then, I went to college at Berkeley up in the Bay Area and moved to San Francisco after I graduated, which is where I got scouted. I was in a vintage store. I figured I’d give modeling a try, and I moved to New York full-time about a year-and-a-half ago. I still had my black hair. It was fine, and then Roman [Young], the director at my agency, Wilhelmina, suggested that we maybe try something different, like bleach my hair. It was funny, the way they brought it up. They were trying to be really careful about approaching it because they probably thought I would turn it down, but I was like, ‘Yeah! I wanna try.’ I’ve actually always wanted to bleach my hair but I thought they wouldn’t let me. Anyway, so I bleached my hair and things started picking up, and here I am.
My hair doesn’t really make me feel very different, but I know that I get perceived as a different person. People think that I’m more more eccentric, open, or adventurous, but it’s really just the hair… I’ve always been pretty liberal and free-spirited and easygoing. I’m still really into the blond, but I know that it’s going to give up on me soon. It’s already suffering from severe breakage from all the shows and the styling, so we’re going to have to think about another exciting direction. I’m not really sure what it will be.
Since I met Carine Roitfeld last December and shot for CR Fashion Book, I’ve worked with her a few times. She’s been amazing and so supportive; I’ve always admired her work and her style. Actually, a lot of my bookings lately have just been things for her because all it takes is one really powerful person to support you and recommend you to other people, and then everything kind of follows after that. Carine was my connector to Chanel, Max Mara, and Tom Ford. Tom Ford went really well—I met him and he asked me where I was from and I said ‘Korea’ and he was like, ‘Oh, your English is so good,’ and I told him that I grew up in California and he was like, ‘Oh, that’s why!’ He loves that I grew up in suburban California—we talked all about Disneyland. [Laughs]
I am really a breed of multiple cultures: I’m not really Korean because I’ve been in America since I was ten, but my parents are really Korean. They live in America, but they’re not one hundred percent Americanized. So, I understand both cultures and I take what I like from each, and I am my own person.”
—as told to ITG
Soo Joo Park, wearing Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Vintage, photographed by Ezra Petronio in Paris on February 26th, 2013. Makeup by Emily Weiss. Part 4 of an ITG series with Self Service.