A vigil will be held tonight at McCarren Park in Brooklyn for the model Hunter Chung, who died earlier this week.
The 28-year-old was in New York City at the time of his death, according to a spokeswoman for Wilhelmina, the agency that represented him. She declined to share any further details.
In addition to modeling, the South Korean-born Chung worked in retail. For more than a year or so, he worked as a store manager at the Opening Ceremony at the Ace Hotel. When his modeling career expanded and required a more flexible schedule, he switched to the SoHo store on a part-time basis. In a joint statement issued Wednesday, Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim said, “Hunter was a beloved part of the OC family. He was a kind and caring soul and a mentor and friend to many of the staff here. He had such a strong passion for arts and culture. He pursued his desire for modeling while staying connected to all the relationships he made here at OC. We will miss him dearly.”
Chung modeled for an assortment of companies and designers including walking the runway for Kith and Bode, as well as Ozwald Boateng at the British designer’s first runway show in New York in February. Levi’s, Converse and Tommy Jeans were also among the brands that he worked for. He earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts and sciences, and general studies and humanities at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. His retail experience included posts at Steven Alan Optical and Gant, as well as an internship at Harvey Faircloth. Chung, who lived in Williamsburg, saw fashion as much as a hobby as a job. Japanese designers like N. Hoolywood’s Daisuke Obana were of particular interest.
Photographer Cam Hicks met Chung through the fashion industry five or six years ago, and they discovered they had a lot of friends in common. “We just became closer and closer as the years went on. I had brought him onto a few projects lately. About a month ago we did a project with Essence about the future of suiting that was styled by Matt Henson. Three or four months ago I shot him for a North Face campaign. That was another one that was well-received,” Hicks said.
He described Chung as “super positive — always had a smile on his face and was joking around.” Hicks said. “He was never ill-mannered. I never saw him angry. He really just liked to hang out and he was super obsessed about dogs. That was his thing. There was a dog bar called Luckydog that he loved to go to. He was probably one of the happiest and just genuinely good people that I have met since I’ve been in New York.”
GQ’s associate style editor Sam Hine recalled first connecting who Chung was, seeing him on the runway at a Bode fashion show. In March, Hine worked with Chung on a GQ shoot about the gender-neutral hair salon Vacancy Project. “He was just a guy that everyone wanted to work with and hang out with. I certainly wanted to keep working with him. Our casting director fell in love with him. He had a really bright future, for sure,” Hine said.
The GQ staffer added, “He was one of those guys who you saw around a lot, which was great. He was just a really fun awesome dude. He was just really cool, he had amazing style and was a super thoughtful, sweet guy. What always stood out to me about Hunter was his sense of style. He had this gravity about him, and people were really drawn to him by that and his funny, witty personality.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, friends of Chung were close to reaching their $20,000 GoFundMe goal to pay for “a proper wake, burial and service” and to cover the travel expenses for Chung’s family to fly to the U.S. from their home in South Korea.
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