|Model Melanie Glock poses in an ad for Daehan Synthetic Fiber Co. in the early 1970s. / Courtesy of Yongsan Legacy|
If you were in South Korea during the years 1970-71 and you liked staying up to date with what was going on with the fashion world, you would have probably been familiar with Melanie Glock, at the time a student from Seoul American High School.
An American, Melanie was the first contracted foreign model in South Korea. She would model in big fashion shows with the country’s top models for top designers including Josephine Cho and Andre Kim.
“I heard that Andre Kim passed away not too long ago. He was perhaps only famous in Seoul then. He was quite young. But I know that later he became an international fashion designer known the world over,” Melanie explained to the Yongsan Legacy team.
Glock got her start with Daehan Synthetic Fiber Co. through a Korean friend of her mother’s who worked in television. She asked Melanie if she would like to model, introduced her to Daehan and from there it was onward to stardom. “This was nearly 50 years ago when I was 16 and 17 years old. That’s how it began. Wild to think about it now!” Glock said.
“I remember once when I was supposed to be on the cover of a magazine, I was really excited to see it. I went with my high school boyfriend to find it on the streets in Seoul where the magazines were sold back then. We couldn’t find it. I found out that I would not be on the cover till the next month because Ann-Margaret had been in town and they decided to put her on the cover instead.”
She had her own agent who would arrive in a car every month to pick her up from her home which was off base, to take her to do photo shoots. She didn’t know the Korean language which created obstacles with this job. For one, she never knew where she was going until they arrived. “We would often go to a studio to take the pictures, but a couple times we drove clear over to a Korean beach or other places in Korea to do the shoot. It was a lot of fun!”?she explained.
Back then there were not that many foreigners in Korea so she was suddenly recognized when she was in the streets or markets of Seoul. “It was quite the time for me really. I was in every magazine that came out once a month, so I guess I was known,” she said.
|Melanie Glock, bottom left, poses with Korea’s top models in the early 1970s. / Courtesy of Yongsan Legacy|
“Now at the age of 65, looking back, it is fun to realize what I did in Korea as a teenager.”
Glock was born in Tokyo, Japan. Her parents were missionaries, and her father also served as a U.S. Army reserve chaplain. She attended Department of Defense military schools in Korea and Japan throughout her childhood. She attended Seoul American High School on Yongsan Garrison from 1969 until graduating in 1971.
Later, she worked as a teacher for 24 years in Denver, Colorado, where she still lives with her husband, James. They have one daughter in LA.
She continues her interest in fashion today, and now home remodeling and decor as well. She loves to travel near and abroad, cook and drink wine.
“Actually, I think my first wine tasting was in downtown Seoul as a teen,” she said. “Oh, those little places we’d go…the fun we had. And that white rice wine was really strong!”
Coco Cugat is an architect from Spain tracing the history of Yongsan Garrison. Visit yongsanlegacy.org , an urban memory archive, to read more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.
Editor: Jon Dunbar for Korea Times. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2019/06/177_271104.html