I had the weirdest encounter recently while walking the beautiful streets of Old Havana. It was a hot and balmy afternoon, and this cool Cuban guy, hanging out as they do by the doorways, saw me and started singing a song I thought was vaguely familiar. He then placed his hands one over the other and started flapping them up and down, doing a jig. I was taken aback; and then, my guide started laughing and gently told him to stop. I, of course, asked what was he on about? My flappy hands? My round face? What? She said, “‘Gangnam Style.’ He says you are like PSY.” Gee, thanks. That chubby guy who makes moves like a horse is my alter ego? But then, I realised that was the only reference the Cuban had to an Asian man. I put it down to that—but it made me recognise the incredible power of music…
And Korea. Of all the things this Cuban man could have associated with Asia, PSY was it. “Gangnam Style” has traversed nations and oceans and landed as a reference point for communist Cubans who have never set eyes on Asians—or at least, very few of them. Which brings me to why I decided to run Song Joong-ki in this issue. This Korean heartthrob is probably the hottest TV star in Asia right now. K-wave has swept the region, indeed the world, in ways we cannot fathom. His extensive 32-page fashion portfolio of images are up on our website to see, while I ran the most delicious ones of him in this issue (on page 58). If it’s Asian-inspired fashion you are after, Debby Kwong, our fashion stylist, has culled the best from the runways for an Oriental extravaganza. The team has scoured the Net for the most interesting websites that deliver their cult wares right to your doorstep—proudly hoisting the Asian flag.
And finally, this issue has Tawan, Asia’s Next Top Model 2016 winner, as our cover girl. Hailing from Thailand, she reiterates the fact that Asian girls don’t have to be delicate, pale willowy creatures. She is tanned, tall and powerful and, through the series, she has found her voice—her roar. I love the power of transformation: Isn’t it fabulous what two months on a TV show, lots of mentoring and a bottle of bleach can do for a woman’s confidence? As for me, I am slicking my hair back, donning sunnies and learning Korean—I could be PSY’s doppelganger. There are worse jobs out there.
—Kenneth Goh, Editor-in-Chief