Korea's 'deadly beauty' doesn't want to be known only for her looks

Korea's 'deadly beauty' doesn't want to be known only for her looks

In the male-dominated world of martial arts, her beautiful face screams for your attention.

Korean female fighter Song Ga Yeon, 19, rose to overnight stardom last month when she won her debut MMA mixed martial arts (MMA) fight against Japanese female fighter Emi Yamamoto in Road Fighting Championship (ROAD FC) 17, a South Korea-based tournament.

Promoted by Korea's largest MMA organisation ROAD FC as the "deadly beauty" and the "most beautiful fighter in the world", Song lived up to the descriptions by overpowering her opponent in less than three minutes.

The juxtaposition of her fresh-faced beauty and violent career may be intriguing to her fans, but she is adamant that her looks do not define her.

Speaking over the phone from Seoul through a translator, Song told The New Paper: "I'm not pretty. In Korea, people like to focus on looks... that could be a strength and a weakness at the same time.

"I'm really just a fighter."

Song's MMA debut appearance can be seen on ROAD FC 017 on Sept 26 at 10pm on KIX (StarHub Cable TV Channel 518) and KIX HD (SingTel mioTV).

With only a handful of female fighters in Korea, Song's appearance on the scene has been a much-needed breath of fresh air, and her male fans have pulled out all the stops to impress her.

Apart from letters of encouragement, Song said she was blown away by some male fans who had given her "Asian medicine" as gifts. She said it was for the bruises on her face and body, an occupational hazard.

She said: "We get treated at Korean hospitals for our injuries.

"But these medicines that were given to me by my fans cannot be found in hospitals, so that really touched me."

When she's not fighting her opponents, she spends five to six hours a day at the gym sparring with other male fighters.

Song also starred in Korean reality variety show Roommate, where a group of celebrities live together in the same house. Her MMA debut fight was broadcast as part of one of the episodes last month.

'DRAMATIC ATTENTION'

Her fellow cast members expressed their awe online when they watched her fight. Song said that when she was invited to join Roommate, she didn't expect to receive this kind of "dramatic attention".

Having recently left the programme to focus on her MMA career, she said: "I really enjoyed being part of Roommate, with the most memorable part being able to travel with the other members.

"I enjoyed every moment - talking, playing and arguing."

Having been in love with martial arts since she was a kid, she has come a long way from a difficult childhood where she had to deal with her dad's death - emotionally and financially.

She had to work two jobs as well as juggle training and schoolwork.

MMA in Asia also reported that ROAD FC founder, former national kick-boxing champion Jung Moon Hong first met Song last year.

Jung said he was so impressed with her dedication and intensity that he invited her to move to Seoul to train with them.

He said: "She has a beautiful face. It seemed to me that this was not the face of a fighter, that's why I considered her to be the most beautiful out of all the female fighters in the world."

cchar@sph.com.sg

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This article was first published on Sep 19, 2014.
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