CONTROVERSY continues to dog two local models’ recent trip to South Korea amid new details suggesting they were not officially invited for the Luxury Brand Model Awards Global Fashion Week 2017 (LBMA) in Seoul from 4 to 9 June 2017.
Matili Taaso and Kananelo Letsie had been lined up to participate in the SUTA Seoul Global Fashion Week 2017 which was supposed to have been held throughout last week.
The two were among four models selected during auditions which were held at Thetsane Office Park in March this year. The auditions were organised by Zimbabwean–born Culvin Mavhunga who told the Weekender in February this year that he was in charge of scouting models in Southern Africa for the Asian fashion show.
The auditions were conducted by Lesotho country representative Thotoane Motlomelo with the assistance of models, Angy Molotsi and Tsepang Lekhoaba.
The models were asked to bankroll their own return air tickets to South Korea but their male counterparts, Mahooana Makape and Lehlohonolo Matela remained behind after failing to raise the M12 660 required for the return flight.
Taaso and Letsie traveled separately to the Asian country on 4 June and arrived the next day.
However, conflicting reports have emerged as to whether or not the duo actually participated in the fashion event or that it was even held at all.
A savingram which was sent from South Korea on 6 June to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Lesotho states that the two models were invited to participate in the LBMA by a “bogus modelling agency”.
“Please be informed that there is a fictitious crusade of inviting Basotho girls to attend the modelling shows in South Korea,” part of the savingram states, adding, “You are therefore advised to inform all Lesotho modelling agencies and individuals to be circumspect and take precautions measures against these developments that constitute human trafficking.”
Another savingram dated 6 June and sent from Lesotho to the South Korean embassy states that:
“The mission kindly reports that two Lesotho citizens namely Ms Matili Dorothy Taaso and Ms Mpho Letsie were invited to attend Fashion Week and Awards in South Korea by a bogus LBMA modeling agency, working with a man believed to be a Zimbabwean Culvin Mavhunga in collaboration with three Lesotho citizens.”
The Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture subsequently tasked Beauty Pageants Association of Lesotho President, Tlali Tlali to head an inquiry to get to the bottom of the issue.
However, Taaso this week told the Weekender that she attended the event but did not participate as she arrived late.
“I was supposed to leave for South Korea on 2 June but missed my flight and ended up leaving on 4 June meaning I arrived two days later than expected.
“When I got to Incheon Airport I saw the sign written LBMA but no one was there to collect me, I then called the Lesotho consultant (Motlomelo) to ask them to come collect me.
“Mr David Yoon who works at the South Korean Foreign Affairs came and took me to where the models were staying.
“Since I was late and missed the introductions to the event, I was disqualified so I decided to stay and enjoy the show till it ended and came home on 9 June. I took a lot of pictures to prove that.
“I also met with the organisers who promised to invite me to the next edition of the LBMA which is said to be in summer,” Taaso said.
For his part, Tlali told this publication that he has since met with Motlomelo, Molotsi and Letsie’s mother and it has been established that the two female models’ participation in the LBMA was not approved which is why no one collected them from the airport in Seoul.
The LBMA website appears to corroborate this version of events as it has information and pictures of the full list of the models approved for the LBMA 2017 and neither Taaso nor Letsie appear. However, Makape and Matela are featured on the website.
Asked why she has not met with Tlali to give her side of the story, Taaso said she was not under the Beauty Pageant Association of Lesotho and did not see the necessity to meet him.