Whatever Happened to Ryu Mi-oh?

The name Ryu Mi-oh won't mean anything to those unfamiliar with Korean nude models who were popular from the mid-90s to early 2000s, but those who know who she is/was (a group that will mainly consist of expats in Korea during that time) will surly appreciate this article.

Ryu Mi-oh was one of the ladies featured here in this 2010 piece on the most notable names ever in Korean adult entertainment. She started her career in front of the camera as a nude model. Her voluptuous image not only graced magazines, she was also featured on such things as advertisement posters and nightclub flyers. She first appeared on the scene in the mid-90s, when the Internet was in its formative years. Even so, it's surprising there's so little information about her online (and I say this after searching Korean sites for her), seeing that she was arguably the most popular nude model in Korea when the Internet became commonplace a few years later.

Circa 1998
A couple of years ago, while doing some Internet research on Miss Ryu and coming up with very little in the way of English results, I did happen across this comment a reader left at a popular Korea-based blog for expats, back in October of 2008:
"Ryu Mi-Oh used to be the it girl for getting her cans out way back when I first came to Korea- this was back when there was only one Internet cafe in Seoul. I wondered what happened to her since then."
He must have first arrived in Korea in the mid-to-late 90s because that was the heyday of Miss Ryu getting her "cans" out for video, magazine, and photo book shoots. Also wondering what she's doing these days, I did some digging to see what I could come up with on the now-40-year-old former queen of the Korean skin scene.


Flyer for the "Mayday" nightclub using Mi-oh's photo
to entice clientele. It's hard to believe there were guys
who saw this and actually thought she worked there.
I don't remember where or when I first saw Miss Ryu's image (I sure remember the one and only time I saw her in person, as I'll detail later), but it was probably on a poster for a skin flick that was displayed around the Suwon train station area or on one of the many flyers that were strewn about on the streets of the nightclub districts (like the one at left), advertising "entertainment establishments." Those often featured images of Korean and Japanese models that were in no way affiliated with the places the ads were for. Ryu Mi-oh was also one of the models featured in the 1999 photo book, simply entitled Nude Photo by two of Korea's top glamour photographers, Chung
Un-bong and Lee Yong-jeong.

One of Miss Ryu's very few starring roles in a feature film was in 2000's The Shackle, in which she played the married neighbor of a psycho who captured young women and took them back to his basement dungeon to act out his sadistic fantasies with them. The opening scene of the movie (which was also a publicity stunt to promote the film) is a fantasy sequence with her running through Seoul's busy Gangnam district, braving the cold and the crowd's gawks, while clad only in panties. That display was just some of the great fodder she's given the Korean tabloids over the years. Some of her other exploits included her getting her breasts insured for 1.5 billion Korean won (roughly 1.5 million US dollars), visiting Japan to make an exotic dancing video with one of their top AV stars, and producing and starring in a two-part "workout" video set entitled Sex Diet.
Original video box cover for the
2000 film The Shackle

The same year of her Gangnam near-nude streak, she also appeared in the stage play Bondage (sense a theme?) that ran that fall in Seoul's Taehaengno district (sort of the "off-Broadway" of Seoul). Yours truly had the pleasure of catching her performance there but didn't get a chance to speak with her after the show, other than a "hello. I figured I'd get another opportunity at a later performance of hers but the show had a short run and live appearances by her were pretty rare, so now I kick myself making it a point to be one of the very few (if not only) Western journalists to get an interview with her. Still, I did sit in the front row during her performance (in which she was fully nude in some acts), and seeing her up close and unadorned, left a very lasting impression.

According to a source who worked with Miss Ryu on a few of her films, but hasn't seen or spoken to her in several years, the last she knew, Miss Ryu got married to a man who was also in the adult entertainment business and the couple resided in the Seoul area, where they're living a private life. That's very plausible, but considering the name or image of Ryu Mi-oh hasn't been in the Korean tabloids for at least as many years, she will remain in the "Whatever Happened to..?" file.


    
At left, from a 1999 photo book simply entitled Nude Photo, that showcased the work of two of Korea's top glamour photographers. Miss Ryu was just one of the featured models but she was the most recognizable. Right; Photo from the program for the stage play Bondage, that ran in Seoul's Taehangno theater district in the fall of 2000.

   
Video box covers to Part 1 of her 1999 two-part Ryu Mi-oh's Sex Diet and her 2000 gem Ryu Mi-oh's Soapland. The latter features scenes shot in Japan, where Miss Ryu performs at a nightclub solo and alongside Japanese nude model.dancer Kuzuki Hoshimi.

   
During the early 2000's Miss Ryu was a favorite of the Korean tabloids and sports newspapers, which run stories on celebrity scandals and gossip, just as much as they did sports news. The English-language equivalent was a small section in the Korea Herald newspaper entitled "Spotlight," that simply got most of their stories from the Korean tabloids and just translated them to English. Above are three examples of 2000-2001 stories of Miss Ryu's alleged and actual exploits that made tabloid fodder. The article at left may very well have been true, considering her "cans" were her prized assets. The subject of the middle article on her playing the "Korean Mata Hari" Linda Kim, seemingly never got further than the planning stages, as such a film has yet to be produced. It's unknown by this writer if Miss Ryu's photo album project she planned with Japanese nude model Kaori Shimamura (the subject of the third article) ever materialized.

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