When reviewing the lists of hundreds of women who have achieved great things in their lives and who are an inspiration to others because of their service or dedication to their craft, it was easy to see how well Master Hyeri Shin belonged in that esteemed group. Here is someone who has dedicated their life from a young age to mastering their skills in martial arts to a level that garners international respect from even other experts in the field.
We interview Master Shin in Miami it was clear from her poise that has a well-grounded temperament, something that is often apparent from those that have spent years developing an inner calm coupled with strength and confidence. We wanted to find out how she started her journey into Tae Kwon do, her life views, and her plans for the future.
You have said in the past that you started Taekwondo training as a child in order to build confidence since you were rather shy and relatively small in stature at the time. Was it more of you wanting to start training or was it more of your parents directing you to start?
HS: Hello, I am so pleased to meet you and thank you for having me in an awesome interview at Mode Lifestyle Magazine.
Yes, I was so shy and introverted when I was a kid. And I was not strong physically and mentally. So my parents decided to send me to Taekwondo school. Once I started, I was getting into Taekwondo more and more because I felt I was getting stronger.
MODE: How did it feel in those early stages when you started in Taekwondo? Did you know that you were going to go on to continue doing this at such a serious level?
HS: I really liked to achieve my goals. For example, I was so happy and had fun when I learned and improved some new skills and when I received awards from the competitions. I got 1st place, a gold medal when I participated in the first competition. I think it was very motivating for me. At the same time, my master discovered my talent in Taekwondo, and he recommended that I participate in more competitions. I didn’t know I could continue doing Taekwondo for a long time like my whole life.
MODE: So, you started your performance in Taekwondo patterns or Poomsae when you were in elementary school in Jeonju, South Korea. Did any of your friends join you or were you the only one amongst your friends that was training?
HS: Correct, In the past, sparring was popular because it is in the Olympics. However, my master knew the potential poomsae (Form) has and he recommended it and let me try to do Poomsae seriously. When I started Taekwondo, I had many friends in Taekwondo school, but they were gone one by one when they got older or when they went to middle school. So I was the only one who kept doing Taekwondo. For example, one of my friends started together. However, she gave up a month later, but I kept doing it and I didn’t give up.
MODE: At what stage did you join and become part of the World Taekwondo Demonstration Team?
HS: I applied for the World Taekwondo Demonstration Team, and I took an audition in 2013. Since that time, I have had some chances to go abroad and perform. My first performance was in Argentina for the international competition and Olympic committee.
MODE: A lot of children do martial arts when in junior or elementary school but soon give it up as they get older and maybe go to college or start work as young adults. In your case were you able to continue training when you went to Yongin University?
HS: Taekwondo is not only physical training, but it also helps mental development. I’ve learned a lot mentally from my master. He always said, “Don’t give up, don’t give up, never give up.” And it reminded me all the time, I actually have never thought about giving up Taekwondo at all. I always wanted to learn more and kept training myself. Also, I entered Yongin University with a major in Taekwondo. So, I was able to continue training even though I got into the university.
MODE: Is it correct that you first came to the United States in 2017 when you successfully applied for a program that supports retired athletes at the National Sports Promotion Foundation, and which gave you six months to study abroad in the US? What was the experience like when you first came to the US? What did you think of the customs, the food, and the people?
HS: Yes, it is correct. I first came to the United States in 2017. I applied for a program called Global Sports Leadership Program. I was one of the members who was supported financially for round-trip airfare, tuition fees, and housing expenses, etc. for six months. It was an amazing experience for me. I was surprised at the weather at first. It was beautiful weather. The sky was so clean and sunny, but it was raining, and it was so interesting. Now, I know it was the Florida weather.
MODE: We understand that your team was invited to perform at the Olympics, but this did not happen because of the Covid pandemic. However, your team that was composed of Koreans and Americans appeared in America’s Got Talent in 2021 where you got a golden Buzzer. Simon Cowell was very impressed with the performance. How did it feel when AGT’s host Terry Crews was so impressed by your team’s audition that he pressed the Golden Buzzer?
HS: That moment when we got the golden buzzer in America’s Got Talent is something I’ve never forgotten. It was definitely the best moment in my life. The World Taekwondo Demonstration Team, we all have worked so hard to perform and spread Taekwondo to the world for years. When Simon Cowell said good words to us and when Terry Crews gave us the golden buzzer, it felt like we got as much reward as we have made through our efforts.
MODE: You were one of two people from your demonstration team that spoke at the America’s Got Talent audition. How nervous were you inside even though you appeared quite calm when you were speaking with the judges?
HS: I think I was trying to control my mind a lot. And I actually was not that nervous. I think it was because I was in a team, it means I felt I was not alone, I was with my team.
MODE: You have stated that you wanted to work towards establishing a Taekwondo school in the International Refugee Organization. Has there been any development in that goal?
HS: World Taekwondo, we have already established some Taekwondo schools in the International Refugee Organization. And some instructors were sent there, and they are teaching people who want to learn Taekwondo, including children.
MODE: How often do you train each week and for how long?
HS: I train taekwondo every day. When I prepared for competitions before, I was training for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 10 hours a day.
MODE: Is training stressful on the body and how do you deal with or reduce aches and pains that you might get from the intense training?
HS: I think that is the hardest part when we train as athletes. Even though you focus and put a lot of effort in, you could get injured or in pain. If that happened, I tried to focus on the basic skills more and more instead of trying something new.
MODE: Obviously the exercise from your taekwondo training will be very positive towards maintaining good health. Do you also follow any plans for your diet in order to maintain your great health and physique?
HS: That’s true. Regardless of any age, gender, everyone could do Taekwondo anywhere. For me, I try to keep my flexibility and muscle. So, I stretch my body every day. For example, I do leg splits when I read a book, when I watch something, even when I have some snacks. Also, I go to the gym often to build and keep my muscles.
MODE: Overall, how do you feel your getting involved in Taekwondo from that young age influenced and benefited your life?
HS: I definitely became stronger since I started Taekwondo from a young age. Taekwondo, you can do it with your body. For instance, you punch, kick and speak out loud Kihop(yell). Through those movements, I have got confidence, self-control, and patience for myself. Also, I have learned courtesy, modesty, respect, and indomitable spirit. It makes me keep up the good work and I never give up. I believe I can do it and I don’t make any limits on myself wherever I go.
MODE: Some say that you resemble actor Park Bo- young. How does it feel now that you are achieving celebrity status?
HS: Oh, I am flattered. I just want to say thank you to someone who thinks like that. Park Bo-young, she is one of my favorite actresses, and she is such a lovely woman. I am just honored to hear those comments. I wish I could be a person who people looked up to like her.
MODE: Do you have any advice for our readers to keep their skin so healthy and glowing like yours? What is your regular beauty and skincare routine?
HS: Actually, I have never thought about my skin being healthy and glowing. I just wash my face in the morning and night with facial oil and cleansing foam every day. Maybe what I figured out recently was that I need to put a little over the amount of skin care products because it needs to be moisturized.
MODE: What advice would you give our readers who are contemplating starting martial arts for health or self-defense? What steps should they take to get started?
HS: First, don’t be afraid of starting something new. Beginning or starting is hard, but once you start, there are various levels or steps. So, you can follow and move up step by step. Most important thing is that you need to get started, and never give up.
MODE: What do you do for relaxation when you are not training? How do you have fun?
HS: I love looking at the sky and the sunset. I sometimes find a good place where I can sit or lay down and watch the beautiful weather. Also, I like any kind of sport or activities. To be honest, I was only doing Taekwondo before, but now I am trying to do or play different sports for fun, such as tennis, golf, and water sports.
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