I was born in 1976, in winter on the longest night of the year.
My name is the name that my mother gave to me. ‘Yu’ or 宥meaning generous and ‘Rim‘ or 臨 meaning pro; they come together making Yurim which means merciful.
My life began in the countryside in Gangwon province in South Korea.
At the age of five, I had collected close to one hundred paper dolls of people. I cut out the dolls from sheets of paper and clothed them with pretty clothes and trinkets, and imagined the lives of the different characters.
I remember one day, I was sent to the supermarket with my mother 's purse to buy some food, and I bought a paper doll with the change. I was supposed to return the change to my mother ...
Later when I grew up and had a career as a fashion designer, I laughed at myself still cutting and pasting imagery from magazines for my work, just as I did while I was playing with my childhood paper dolls.
During my childhood, my mother and I had no home. I remember moving to a new place and moving quickly. I moved almost every year to a different place in the same small country village.
My mother was a woman without a husband, and everybody in that place looked down on my mother. In Korea, at that time, without a man people were free to treat her very badly. Correct and brave mothers have to fight for right and wrong from time to time, and as a result we were kicked out every time over an unexpected quarrel with the owner of the house.
At age 11 my writing was selected for the Pyeongchang in Gangwon province convention and came out in print in a book. I still keep this book titled "Small Day Bigger".
In the story, written on the bowl, I promised my mother that I would give her warm gloves and that I would take care of her forever. But I now live very far away from her.
My early years in the countryside were full of beautiful surroundings. The four seasons can be felt clearly even with my eyes closed.
In the last of the seasons, the world is covered with new white snow and at the beginning of a winter night when the moon is round and big, outside it is as bright and calm as daylight ... The night that the church bell rang, my mother and I dressed up beautifully and dipped our feet in the snow and headed for the church on the hill. That Christmas is kept in my happiness bottle.
When reading a book or watching a movie, there is a point in time when a story change is made.
My 13-year-old rural life ended abruptly because of my mother’s love for her daughter and an incident with the new owner of a fried chicken shop.
We moved to Uijeongbu city near Seoul, and the place where I first stayed was a large area of buildings like a refugee village.
After a family died from carbon monoxide poisoning, I moved into my Aunt's house for a few years until I finished school. The cheap underfloor heating, that they needed to survive the brutal subzero winter temperatures in those temporary buildings, meant burning charcoal indoors.
Thinking about the souls who had to die from burning those cylinders of charcoal ...
Music that put a mysterious aura in my life and into my soul.
Even when I slept and when I walked I listened to music, even when I went to take my school exams, I listened secretly hidden.
Still if I listen to Enigma’s music, I will enter into the young and innocent feelings of that time. Music plays a large role in my art, always listening to it as I work.
Moving to a new apartment. I was able to have happiness and dreams. I could say it was my house and my first experiences of living independently began.
In my first school, I painted what I imagined it to be like under the ocean. My teachers were surprised to see my painting, and arranged for me to enter art competitions and encouraged me to keep painting. So, every year, I entered these competitions and put my surprised teachers into a pit of disappointment every time with my failure.
The painting I was doing was not meant to satisfy other people. But nevertheless I grew up wanting to go to Art University. Despite gaining entrance to the University, I was then rejected after they took into consideration my family situation and circumstances.
In 1995, I did not go to university, but I got a job in Seoul with an insurance company called Dong-A Life Insurance. I started Life Drawing as a hobby using my first salary. I still cannot forget the mysterious world of fascination.
I worked for the company for 6 months but I knew that it was not the place for me. So I planned to start studying fashion design as this was already spinning round in my head. I went to Guam on my first overseas trip after I left my first job.
I studied at fashion design college for a year, studying seriously for the first time. During that time, I could not imagine how much time I spent devoting myself to it night and day with joy and happiness.
I had to pay for my own tuition while attending college. I found something that I could earn money from and learn a hobby at the same time. I was working part-time in a billiard hall, and getting good at playing too. After that, I learned bowling and I worked in a bowling alley, and another time I worked at a bar making cocktails.
20-year-old me started fashion design work for the first time. The brand was called 'Supermarket' and was the first place in Korea to sell certain kinds of accessories and novelties.
The store was located in an expensive part of Seoul called Apgujeong, where I was able to collect signatures from all the celebrities. The smile that I got from the actress Choi Jin-sil when she laughed is still vividly in my memory.