Model Han Hyun Min says his mom is pure Korean

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Han Hyun Min
Han Hyun Min on ‘Radio Star’ (Instagram/Radio Star) Instagram/Radio Star

Nigerian-Korean model Han Hyun Min spoke up about her mother's ancestry to say that she is pure Korean.

The 16-year-old, who was named by a US magazine as one of the most influential teens of 2017, became a guest on the Korean talk show "Radio Star" along with JBJ member and model Kwon Hyn Bin, Momoland's JooE and comedian Kim Soo Yong.

"There's something wrongly known that I want to correct. My father is Nigerian and my mom is pure Korean. She's Han (family) of Chungju. They say my mom is European-Korean but that's not true," he said.

Despite his mixed-race background, Han Hyun Min grew up in Korea and never spoke English.

"They use English in Nigeria but I don't know how to speak English. My mom had a big influence. She translates for me and my dad so I don't speak English," he added. "My mom tends to rush things. I use Korean passport. Usually, you hold dual citizenship (if you're mixed) but my mom got lazy and just only registered me for Korean citizenship."

One time, he said, he was offered to be a model of a car commercial but was rejected because of his poor English.

"I was thinking to myself 'I'm finally doing a CF," he said. "The marketing team wanted me to pose in a cool way and then say 'swag'. But I lived in Korea for 17 years and I don't know English pronunciations very well. I practiced 'swag' for about 2 hours. At the time of filming, I said 'swag' and then got cut right away."

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He grew up in Korea facing discrimination because of his skin color.

"There are so many prejudices about darker skinned people in South Korea. When I was in kindergarten, some of the mothers in the playground would tell my friends, 'Don't play with him. If you play with him, you will become darker too,'" he told the magazine.

He is now a rising fashion model in South Korea and said, "My dream is now a reality and I want those like me to feel they can achieve the same."

This article was first published on December 28, 2017