On October 30, Lee Seung-hwan, a Dankookian (student of Dankook University), won the title of Mister International Korea. The competition rates a participant’s masculine beauty, intelligence and good manners. Lee, who is also the head of a bodybuilding group in the Department Recreation & Leisure Sports at Dankook University (DKU) was the youngest competitor in the group. Despite his lack of knowledge and experience in this type of competition, he struggled on his own to achieve his goal. He was first selected in the top 25, and eventually went on to take the first prize. To learn more about the challenges he faced and the effort this endeavor required, the Dankook Herald (DKH) first interviewed Mr. Lee Seung-hwan on October 12, two weeks before the final competition.
Q. Why did you start bodybuilding?
Lee: I was just a scrap of a thing when I was young, and I had low self-esteem. To overcome that and the fear of how others think about me, I started to exercise. I worked out daily in the gym, and was chosen to be a high school athlete, running track. This is how working out became the biggest part of my life.
After graduating high school, I started to departmentalize my exercise routine. Likewise, I focused on my weaknesses, designing my body to make it beautiful, but not hulky, which is why I started bodybuilding Though there are some people who think that the goal of bodybuilding is to make you look like the hulk, I felt more confident from just trivial changes in my body shape, especially when people noticed the differences.
Q. Tell our readers about the Mister International Korea competition and how you prepared for it.
Lee: Unlike other bodybuilding competitions, this tournament requires a pleasant appearance from a beautiful body, but also the capability of fluent speech, intelligence, and good manners. So I tried very hard to work on all these requirements. I studied speech, current issues and took lessons in order to be able to pose in the best way under any circumstances, such as with a swim suit or formal suit. When I master these techniques, it is my dream to enter one of the biggest world tournaments. Moreover, I thought this competition would be one of the best chances for me to be a fitness model by developing an ideal body shape for bodybuilder. My final goal is to enter a world fitness model tournament. So you can see, the Mister International Korea competition is just the first step I am taking towards achieving my dreams. I want to be a fitness model, specializing in sports, and then a trainer who applies the knowledge of rehabilitation on exercise physiology.
Q. Is there any know-how that you could study and prepare for the competition at the same time?
Lee: What I study in college is not far from exercising. My major is Recreation & Leisure Sports and Exercise Prescription and Rehabilitation, and it relates to learning how to work out more efficiently. So I have no conflicts between studying and exercising. I’m lucky to be able to work out and study at the same time.
In a follow up interview, after he won the competition, he emphasized 3 good habits you need to practice to maintain a good physical condition: get sufficient sleep, maintain a strict diet and exercise consistently. To protect yourself from injury and to practice exercising effectively, he pointed out the importance of studying weight training and higher physical growth.
Q. What do you want to be or to achieve through the competition?
Lee: Bodybuilding can be specialized into several groups. For example, I am a bodybuilder, more specifically a fitness bodybuilder, who wears suits, walks like a general fashion model, and is able to talk effectively in front of people. This may sound strange or unusual to people, but as a bodybuilder, I feel uncomfortable when people misunderstand the sport or judge the person practicing. My wish is to bring a positive perspective towards bodybuilding
What he has done and achieved in the competition is the first accomplishment of its kind for a Dankookian, which is highly remarkable. He overcame his low self-esteem by working out and turned this hobby into a successful project and future dream. Moreover, even though he knows that this sport is not really popular, he tries very hard to achieve all of his goals. We can all learn an important lesson from him; If you find something you like, do not hesitate to stick with it. You’ll be glad you followed your dreams.
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