Contestants built friendships through various challenges including a survival game on Mt. Muju, North Jeolla Province.
/ Korea Times Photo by Cho Young-ho
By J.R. Breen
Turn off the cameras, pack away the lights, the show is over. After three years of waiting, the world has its new ``most desirable man.''
Kamal Ibrahim of Ireland was crowned Mr World 2010 Saturday. He'll receive $50,000, and will now be the face of many charity events for the Miss World Organization (MWO) for the next year.
For the rest of the contestants, their journey has ended, as all contestants are only eligible to take part in one Mr World competition. But they are all positive about their experience.
"It has been absolutely brilliant, the people we were around, the places we visited," Max Chung of Guyana said. "It will open doors, give me opportunities and it has boosted my self-confidence… I plan to visit at least three countries next year ― Egypt, Greece and Guadeloupe."
Seventy-four contestants competed in Mr World 2010, which began on March 2 and finished with the finale Saturday, which was viewed by 1 billion people around the world.
Over the 16 days, contestants were subject to a grueling schedule. They were yelled at by Korean Marines, numbed-to-the-bone running up Mt. Deogyu in Muju and bruised by each other in a paint-ball tournament.
Contestants also got the chance to put their skills on display in a talent show, experience Korean culture by visiting palaces, partake in cooking classes, and strut their stuff down the runway of an Andre Kim fashion show.
``The highlight of the competition for me was the charity (fashion show), it was an opportunity for me to work with one of Korea's most famous designers (Andre Kim). Sincerely, I really like the concept of charity," Mr France Mohammed al Maiman said. ``I have made new friends and discovered cultures."
``For me, it is more what I can get from the contest and take back to Kenya to improve the modeling world there," said Linanda Kotengo of Kenya. "It is a chance to learn something and have a good experience."
Dejan Radovic, an account manager at the telecom company M:tel in Bosnia Herzegovina, enjoyed his visit to Daegu stadium. The 27-year-old also said, "The fashion show was very good."
For Mr Ethiopia, Matewos Yilma Jigsa, the competition has been non-physical combat.
``It is like a war without a gun, it is a peaceful war," he said. "We were all trying to be 'the world's most desirable man. I have learnt many things; I have shared my culture and learnt other people's culture," said Yilma Jigsa, who will graduate from a computer science course in Ethiopia this year. "One similarity I saw between Korea and Ethiopia is they have a good hospitality for their guests."
The competition has been great, said Carlo Marino of Luxembourg, but now it is back to real life.
``I particularly enjoyed the quad-biking (All Terrain Vehicle racing), to see (Incheon) Bridge was very interesting," the 30-year-old said. ``Now I will return to my country. I think there will be a lot of media interviews, on the 31st, I am doing a TV show. (But) my life will return to normal, the routine will set in."
Mr Italy Paolo Cosi hopes that the competition can help him launch an acting career, "I hope to have a possibility to be on TV, to be an actor," he said, adding that "I enjoyed the quad-biking, and the activity with the (Korean Marines).
The Mr World competition, like Miss World, is commonly seen as a beauty pageant, and this was a view that many contestants shared before the contest, but now they feel differently.
"I was also expecting (Mr World) would be like (a beauty pageant), but it is not what I thought it would be," Yilma Jigsa said. "It is not true."
"That's exactly what I thought it was," agreed Josef Karas, from the Czech Republic. "I didn't know anything different. But when you are here you realize it is no way a beauty pageant. I think it is 99 percent about a person's character. Whatever you do, these 20 days will show your character."
Yoo Ji-kwang of Korea made it through to the semi-finals, which saw 15 contestants remain out of the 74. Five were then picked to advance to the finals. Yoo, who was the first to be told the news, learned that he would not win the prize, much to the disappointment of the Korean members of the audience.
``It was kind of upsetting, but I put 100 percent effort in, so I am happy," said the 24-year-old. "It was a good experience."
Yoo had been one of three contestants to receive a fast-track to the semi-finals, named ``Mr Talent" after winning the talent show held in Gyeongju. He now hopes to secure a career in singing, or preferably acting, he said.