Dojin Kim is seriously impressive. He is a successful international model who just happens to run one of the hottest restaurants in South Korea. I interviewed him right after he relocated full time to New York City and he is already making big waves in the Big Apple.
I was fascinated to learn that modeling is just one facet of Dojin Kim’s many talents. He is also the creative force behind the restaurant Laundry Pizza in Seoul. In less than a year, his pizza joint has become a cultural phenomenon in South Korea. It is a mecca for Korean celebrities and fashionistas, and has been featured in photo shoots and even a music video!
With a successful restaurant already under his belt, Dojin Kim has even bigger ambitions for his modeling career in New York City. Dojin is a triple threat with his drive, charisma, and chiseled good looks, and I have no doubt that he will reach his goals.
Special thanks to Q Management in New York for arranging this interview!
Hi Dojin! It’s a pleasure to interview you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from?
First of all, I’m very glad to speak with you today! I’m originally from Seoul, South Korea, and I’m 26 years old.
How did you get into modeling?
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I want to be a top model. My dream is to be on the Sexiest Men ranking on Models.com.
I started modeling when I was 20 years old. When I was younger, one of my best friends was a Korean model and actor named Sung Joon. He was a high school classmate of mine. He helped me lay the groundwork for my modeling career.
Did you start your career in Korea? When did you go international?
My first job was the Hermes show in South Korea. My first magazine shoot was with Esquire about three years ago. About two years ago, I went to Milan for the first time. My first show there was with Vivienne Westwood. I signed with Q Management in April of this year.
I understand that you have a pizza restaurant in Korea called Laundry Pizza. What inspired you to open a restaurant?
Actually, Laundry Pizza is just one of our brands. One of my best friends runs a restaurant company called CNP. Our brands include a salad restaurant, taco shop, coffee shop, bakery, and more.
Wow, so you guys are building a real restaurant empire! How did you get involved?
My friend approached me and another friend about two years ago and said he wanted to work with us. First, I worked on the taco shop and then at the salad place. Now, I am at Laundry Pizza. If I didn’t do modeling, I would want to run a restaurant or store.
The decor of the restaurant looks like a real Laundromat. How did you come up with that concept?
When my American friends have a late night of drinking, they eat pizza or hamburgers afterward to soak up the alcohol. So the concept behind Laundry Pizza is “doing laundry on your insides” to wash away the effects of drinking.
We came up with the idea because we wanted to introduce American culture to Korean people. In Korea, it’s traditional to drink soup after a night of drinking. I visited New York last year and was inspired to come up with the idea. I came up with the interior design of the restaurant and I am in charge of marketing.
That’s very clever! Are those real washing machines?
You can open the doors, but they do not actually work.
I saw some photos on Instagram and the food looks amazing! There’s pizza with French fries topping?! Delicious chicken and waffles. Amazing cheese fries. It all looks so good! What are your most popular menu items?
The pizza with French fries and maple syrup is a favorite with the ladies because it’s sweet. Our best seller is pepperoni, a solid classic. Some other popular items are pulled pork pizza, and also potato chip pizza with a Korean sauce. We have the best chef and he comes up with creative food ideas.
A lot of the ideas were inspired by New York City. The chicken and waffles are from Harlem. The pizza dough is very crispy, like New York style pizza. In Korea, the pizza dough is traditionally softer.
How do you stay in shape for photo shoots when you are around such tempting delicious pizza all day? What is your typical diet routine?
My favorite food is salad. I basically eat salads all day. I usually go to the salad place that our company runs in Seoul called Bad Farmers. Sometimes I eat pizza because I want to learn how different pizzas taste so I can introduce new ideas at the restaurant. But not everyday, maybe once a week.
What about exercise? I saw a video online of you doing boxing. Is that a sport you are into?
My favorite hobby is boxing. In fact, I just went to a boxing gym this morning called UFC Gym in New York. I was also a dancer. I did “locking,” a kind of street dance. Other than that, I work out at the gym a lot.
Let’s talk for a bit about style. How would you describe your personal style? Do you have any favorite brands?
My style is very masculine and a bit macho. I like to show some muscle. My favorite brands are Ralph Lauren, Dsquared2, Dolce&Gabbana, Givenchy, and Versace. I also like to wear Hugo Boss. I wear a lot of black because it’s so chic. I love black!
What is the most memorable fashion show or photo shoot you have done so far?
I remember when I was in Korea doing Seoul Fashion Week for D.Gnak, a Korean brand. It was the first time to take off my shirt on the runway. It was fun! It was the first time I felt like I was really modeling. That’s a good memory for me.
I know you just moved to New York City full time. Do you have any favorite places to hang out in the city?
The gym of course haha. Every gym in New York City. Also, Central Park. It just feels so free and chill and relaxed there. I love Central Park.
I’m so excited to be in New York. I love it!