Park I-seul once aspired to be a model with a beautiful, "ideal" body.
She resorted to excessive diets in order to achieve this dream but by her early 20s this had only led to eating disorders.
At the time, the 25-year-old learned about "body positivity," a social movement that has been developed around the world calling on people to love and appreciate their bodies no matter what size they are.
"I learned about body positivity and plus-size models through Instagram, and took courage from a message to love yourself as you are," Park said in an interview with The Korea Times.
This change in thinking led her to decide to become a model regardless of her figure.
"I viewed lots of posts on overseas Instagram accounts and learned that a variety of people regardless of their height, weight or physical disability are working as models," she said. "So, I decided to become Korea's first 'natural-size' model, and began modeling early last year."
But she faced difficulties at the beginning as she had to take steps that nobody in Korea had before.
She got turned down for runway jobs many times. She also encountered refusals from owners of online shopping malls who said they did not need a model of her size.
"I needed to prove the necessity of a 'natural-size' model and decided to use Instagram and YouTube," she said, noting that she is running her own YouTube channel with nickname "Cheedo" where she shares styling tips, as well as an Instagram account where she shares fashion-related videos.
To achieve the dream to appear on the runway, she planned and launched her own fashion show "Outfits for Tomorrow" last November through her BAT MAN Contest project. It was the Korea's first fashion show allowing models of any size to participate.
The BAT MAN Contest, carried out by tobacco maker BAT Korea since in May 2017, is designed to provide support for young adults endeavoring to realize their dreams.
Park won the grand prize at the contest in recognition of her efforts to create a non-discriminative environment for models of various sizes to pursue their dreams.
"I felt rewarded as I was able to show to the fashion industry that there is growing demand for models of various sizes," she said.
Park plans to hold her second body positive fashion show next year, she said, adding that she will also continue to lead the movement by openly discussing body issues such as eating disorders.