Daul Kim’s story is a sad one. One that ended far too soon and in a way that entirely contradicted the beauty that both surrounded and existed within her. In 2009 her suicide rocked the fashion world, shocking her friends and loved ones and leaving many a heartbroken fan in its wake. Her brief time in the spotlight showed the world a quirky, intelligent, creative individual; one of the coolest models to
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Daul felt like an outsider from the get go. Frequent moves during her childhood left her feeling like she never fit in, something that stayed with her forever. From Korea to Malaysia to Singapore, she quit school at the age of 15 and took on the task of convincing her “typical strict Asian family” that she was serious about a modeling career. One year later she was making her catwalk debut on Martin Margiela’s runway at only 16. Her fashion fantasy quickly fell into place as she booked more and more high profile jobs; Karl Lagerfeld, Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Kane, Alexander McQueen and Richard Nicoll all called on her regularly, but it was the Chanel booking that solidified her place in the fashion world — the one job that brought her to tears of joy. She was an incredible model. She possessed a quiet, unassuming beauty and had a remarkably singular look off duty: “Dressed entirely in black, with jet-black bangs skimming coal black eyes and poker straight locks hanging untended somewhere halfway down her chest, Daul Kim resembles something between a ninja and a gothic cartoon heroine Emily the Strange, with her round eyes and flat cheekbones highlighting a perfectly symmetrical face.” She was not just another pretty face.
This was something that she proved time and time again in her free time as she ran a personal blog under the name Daul Monster titled I Like to Fork Myself, named for her extensive fork collection, and indulged in various artistic pursuits including painting and film making. Her writing achieves such an intimate feel; loose prose and train of thought posts make you feel like you’re sitting with her, idly chatting away. Simultaneously unselfconscious and utterly reserved, her feelings of frustration, loneliness and depression are suggested. As early as 2007, two years before she took her life in her Paris apartment, she wrote “I am going to smash my face… My life as Daul was so miserable and lonely. Please join my loneliness in another world. I love you all. Daul.” Followed by: “KIDDING. I’m fine. Just tired.” In a poem she described the double edge sword nature of her career, “i just know / the more i gain / the more lonely it is.” Her suicide in 2009 became a media storm as journalists liberally quoted from her blog, deliberately ignoring the context and Daul’s dark, biting sense of humor to instead portray a lost little girl eaten up by the big bad fashion world. For instance, all of her posts begin with “Say Hi to…” and with her last post titled “Say Hi to Forever” it was just a headline waiting to happen. The portrayal is bullshit and tarnished the legacy that should have been left behind: that of an interesting, smart girl who lived an incredible life, albeit frenetic and frantic, and was not naïve or helpless, but frustrated and unable to get a good night’s sleep.
One of our favorite posts from I Like to Fork Myself is Say Hi to Halloween:
i was so lost
but that night was beautiful
i was living in london, and i had a punk boy in my life
and it was such a relief to run away to
new york city
i had no time to buy costume, so i just wore my old dolce&gabanna from the 90s
ironically the one the punk boy gave to me …
i felt so…free and kind of excited
i was with my best friend p, and it was beautiful and strange night
we ended up in the most strangest place, most awkward moments
i think this year i will remember today as the day i slept 10 hours without
any help of anything or anyone without any dreams and woke up feeling peaceful and happy.
no more running away from something or someone or myself.
i wonder what will happen tonight
Read through more when you can. It’s worth it — not only for the way she writes, but also to get a balanced, true to life picture of who she was. The girl who shaved her eyebrows off as a dare. Who giggled at the self-importance of other artists. Who could admit that her DJ set sucked. Full of life and humor, the world lost a phenomenal human. And another thing that’s so frustrating about the coverage of her death and all the focus that was put on her blog — the majority of her posts are fun and silly, with just a mere handful of references to any troubles she was experiencing. Her paintings are similar in that way; they are bright and absurdist with a cartoon quality but definitely allude to deeper waters. We can only hope that her fork collection is in good hands and that wherever Daul Monster ended up has a good selection of House music.