(This article was originally published on October 21, 2011 on Critical Beauty's old server. I am republishing it on CB's new server in conjunction with the article on Florima Treiber, the dethroned Miss Asia Pacific World 2011 who contacted CB to tell her side of the story. - Rafa Delfin)
• INTERNATIONAL PAGEANTRY was rocked by heavy scandal this past week when several contestants of the first edition of the Miss Asia Pacific World (MAPW) pageant protested their mistreatment and abuse by the Korean organizers. The pageant finale was held at the Busan Yachting Center in Busan, Korea on October 15. Hours before the finals, three contestants videotaped their harrowing experience with local pageant authorities who had been accused of irregularities in the competition. Some of these irregularities included the placement of certain delegates in the talent competition even though they did not compete, and the geographical ignorance of the judges for awarding Best National Costume Africa award to Guyana and Best National Costume Europe award to Puerto Rico. Also, Miss Cameroon won the Best Talent Africa without ever setting foot on stage. The video was uploaded on YouTube by Miss Guyana Aletha Shepherd .
In the video below, Miss Wales Amy Willerton angrily confronts a non-English-speaking organizer and asks him how anyone can win a competition without even entering it. Willerton then accuses the organizer of lying by claiming that he did not know anything about the judging rules. The drama continues when the police is barred by the organizer to confer with the girls' only translator and when Miss Costa Rica Pamela Peralta starts to break down. On Day 13, the girls (Wales, Guyana, Costa Rica) were fooled into believing that they were going to be driven to the airport, but instead were taken to another hotel as the organizers attempted to convince them to stay. Scared for their safety, the girls rushed out of the hotel and towards the airport where they were followed. Tipped by the organizers, the airport authorities prevented the girls from boarding the plane and held them and their luggage "hostage." What follows is a heated verbal confrontation between Willerton and the airport security staff.
Other complaints raised were the lack of proper food, hotels with no beds, sexual harassment, and judges bribing the girls to stay in the competition and for sex. The girls were also promised that they would each get a hanbok, the traditional Korean dress, but the people who had provided them with the dresses took off with the dresses! Willerton's statements speak volumes of the unprofessional and unethical behavior of the pageant organizers: "It's disgusting. And they offered all of us the option, so we won't leave, of winning the pageant... I don't want to do anything with these people, or work with these people. This pageant is a joke... I don't see the winner ever getting their prize money... And even if the prize money is a possibility, I still wouldn't work with this people because they are sick! They are sick, disgusting, just awful people who should not be allowed to work with women from around the world." Watch the entire video and see the drama unfold:
Watch all of Shepherd's videos on YouTube as well as her website Confessions of a Beauty Queen where she chronicles her experience in Korea from the day she arrived.
On her Facebook page, Willerton posted these comments on October 14:
Willerton's comments reflect those of one irate national director who wrote to me and said: "The top 15 was a WTF! What are some of them doing up there? They slept in a dirty rooms with 4 to 5 girls per room and there were cockroaches everywhere. The hair and makeup crew was just there for the beginning but then left! The girls were on their own. They had only one f---ing rehearsal! People were coming and going backstage to take pics with the girls and there was no security present. The girls also did not have chaperones for two weeks! Should I say more?"
When I asked this director if he had seen Lawrence Choi, the founder, promoter and organizer of the pageant, he said, "I never saw him. And quite frankly, I would rather send the poor girls to hell than back here next year! Never met him at all! Don't know who he is."
Several media outlets picked up the story, like this one by BBC News: