Choi Han-bit has become the first transgender individual to pass the first preliminary round of the Supermodel Contest 2009 on July 2. "It's just the beginning. I do not live in vain hope. But if I can be happy and I can also do it..." Choi wrote on her blog on Wednesday.
Choi is reported a graduate of the School of Dance at the Korean National University of Arts.
According to SBS, over 1,200 people applied to this year's Supermodel Contest. Only 160 passed the document screening, and only 50 people, including Choi, passed the first preliminary round. The second preliminary round on July 28 will leave 32 candidates for the final round, which will be held in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, on Sept. 25.
Choi had a sex change operation in 2006 and changed her name and sex in legal documents. Some contestants who did not make the cut raised questions over whether Choi is qualified to compete, but SBS said her resident registration number starts with a 2, which means she is recognized as a woman by the government.
"If we disqualify a person who is recognized by the state as woman on the grounds that she is a transgender individual, we would view that as a violation of human rights," SBS said. "The Supermodel Contest selects people who are deemed suitable for the modeling profession. We plan to judge the contestants based on their talent and qualities as a super model, regardless of their sexual identity."