By Ines Min
, crowned Miss Korea 2009 Wednesday, has become the latest Internet phenomenon, garnering the most hits on the search engine Web site Naver and sparking a surge of fan-based communities.
Her Web site attracted more than 12,000 new visitors only a day after the pageant ended.
Fans are proclaiming Kim, a graduate of the Russian Bolshoi Ballet Academy, to be the perfect, overachieving daughter that all mothers wish they could claim as their own.
"Eom-chin-ttal", or "mother's friend's daughter", is a term used to describe a prodigious child who can do no wrong ― a child who is beautiful, intelligent and kind-hearted. It is typical in Korean culture for mothers to boast about the many accomplishments of their children in an attempt to outdo their friends and neighbors.
But mothers will come home to scold their own children into motivation by relaying tales of how others are achieving more. The "eom-chin-ttal" is the individual who sets the standard for all comparisons ― the best of the best, the one a mother is always comparing with her own child.
There is an "eom-chin-ttal" in every young Korean's life, though with various embellishments and omissions, and many learn to take these tales of unerring perfection with a grain of salt. Kim, in her mere 21 years, has managed to become the national "eom-chin-ttal", and now, as Miss Korea, she is the real deal.
The Hankook Ilbo, parent company of The Korea Times, has reported scores of bloggers posting their views of Kim ― from simple congratulations on her win to praises claiming her to be an excellent representative of the Republic of Korea.
"She's more beautiful without make-up and so pretty it's selfish", one male blogger expressed. "She's the kind of beauty queen that possesses both intellect and aesthetics. I almost get jealous when I see her".
Kim's "au naturale" style of beauty has struck a chord with many of her fans and is quickly becoming her trademark. Photos of her casually dressed in jeans have become more popular on blogs than the usual glamour shots celebrity fan-bases often collect.
The explosive growth of Internet popularity stunned Kim. Due to all the recent events she said she could now relate to Lord Byron's famous quote: "I woke up one day and found myself famous".
Kim's win in the Miss Korea pageant has secured her position as a participant in the 2010 Miss Universe competition.
Miss Korea 2009 Kim Joo-ri