RANGOON — Burmese beauty queen May Myat Noe has returned home after being the first from her country to ever win an international beauty pageant.
The 18-year-old Miss Myanmar beat out contestants from more than 30 countries, including South Korea (2nd), Macau (3rd) and India (4th), to win the Miss Asia Pacific World contest, held annually in South Korea since 2011.
She was also invited to become a special member of the Korean Film Actors’ Association—another first for Burmese celebrities, according to Burma’s national director at the pageant, Hla Nu Htun.
“This is a special moment not only for her, but for the country. We Burmese people dreamed of taking home the beauty crown. We’re happy to show the world the beauty of our Burmese belles,” Hla Nu Htun told The Irrawaddy on Friday, following May Myat Noe’s return to Rangoon on Thursday.
“She said she will first devote herself to social work, to give back what she received from the country. She will have a couple shoots for advertisements and will need to take care of her education as well.”
May Myat Noe, who was officially crowned last weekend, is also well known for performing in Burmese signing contest “Eain Mat Sone Yar.”
She attended Myanmar International School in Yangon and then moved to Singapore for secondary school, where she excelled in athletics, particularly field hockey. She is now preparing to take examinations to study at the university level.
For about half a century of military rule, Burmese beauty queens did not leave their country to compete at international competitions.
The first Burmese contestant to do so, Nang Khin Zayar, participated in a pageant in Japan in 2012. Following in her footsteps, two other Burmese contestants, Khin Wint War and Htar Htet Htet, also competed at international pageants, winning various smaller awards for popularity on social media.
But before May Myat Noe, no Burmese pageant winner had won the main crown at an international pageant abroad.