Savvy stylistas will have spied Susu Girls swanning across the pages of Vogue or in ad campaigns for the likes of Dior, Chanel and Bvlgari.
These paper-thin, long-legged and always impeccably dressed starlets are the creation of Seoul-based fashion illustrator JaeSuk Kim who has drawn his 2D mode mavens for the likes of Cartier and Christian Louboutin. Kim has also built a devoted Instagram following around his cut-out Susu Girls which he photographs in situ everywhere from Italian runways to the streets of his hometown Seoul.
Kim chats to LUXE about artistic inspiration, after-hours shopping and shares his favourite secret spots in the Korean capital.
How does Seoul inform and inspire your artwork?
Seoul is super fast paced and an extremely busy city, with lots of changes happening every day.
I think the fashion industry and Seoul have a lot in common when it comes to that. As a fashion illustrator, it’s crucial to always be alert to trends, the latest collections and the latest happenings of the fashion world. Seoul inspires me to always move with this fast paced industry.
There are also a lot of fashion events and presentation happening almost every week here in Seoul, which was one of the things that inspired me to transform my artwork into paper dolls. Now I carry my Susu Girls everywhere I go and photograph them in situ to show the latest happenings of the fashion world through their eyes!
What’s your favourite way to start the day in Seoul?
Most of my days in Seoul start at my home which is also my studio. I normally begin with checking emails and Instagram, then it’s straight on to my work! One of the best thing about living in Seoul is the convenience. When I’ve got a lot of work on, I use delivery apps to order everything from food to art supplies! They’re all delivered right to my doorstep, which saves tons of time and lets me concentrate on my work.
What cultural activity is a must for visitors to Seoul?
Shopping! In this city, retail really is a cultural activity. And there is something for everyone from high end to affordable. You can go to the big department stores for the latest haute fashion items; the Garosu-gil area has lots of smaller stores that are more unique and trendy. If my work finishes late (which happens most of the time), I head to Dongdaemun with my friends and shop till the very early morning. The shops there are open till 4am everyday!
If someone only has time for one meal in Seoul, where should they eat?
The tteokbokki restaurant inside Sinsa market. It’s a very simple, traditional place that’s uniquely Korean and very much a local spot (most tourists would never hear about it). I’ve been to many Korean restaurants overseas but the experience of eating authentic tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) in a proper market environment is incomparable!
Tell us a local secret about Seoul that most visitors don’t know.
I guess this could apply to Korea in general, but each suburb has its own dish/food that originated there. For example Jang Chung Dong is the birthplace of jokbal (braised pig’s trotters), so if you want an authentic jokbal experience, Jang Chung Dong is a must visit, but the list of other local dishes goes on and on.
Seoul is a fast-paced city, where do you go to chill out?
I enjoy having coffee late at night, which is quite a common practice in Korea – the cafe culture here is quite different to the rest of the world with many coffee shops staying open very late or 24 hours. To many locals a late-night coffee is the equivalent of having a drink after work or a long tiring day. I like to chill out at cafes after a late dinner, chat with friends or sit down for hours to brainstorm and draw.
Find more top spots in the South Korean capital in the LUXE Seoul city guide…