Featured Interviews & Articles

January 21, 2010

Korean Narrator Models

Not to be confused with racing or car show models, narrator models, also called "doumi," (Korean word for "helper") have been a fairly common sight on city sidewalks and in stores of South Korea since the early 90s.

Hired through agencies by businesses promoting grand openings, special events or sales, these ladies can be found outside the entrances to night clubs, restaurants, stores, or even in supermarkets like Jang Yoon-jeong, the lovely lady pictured at right (and not to be confused with the singer of the same name). Their duties include such things as handing out flyers and promo freebies, delivering sales pitches, and dancing to pulsating techno music pumped out by large PA systems under archways of colorful balloons. In addition to their appearance, these girls are chosen through auditions for their speaking and dancing abilities, and have to be of a certain size, in order to fit into the outfits provided to them.

There aren't too many images of these ladies around the net (and I state that after searching Korean portals for them) and one reason for that is, despite their high visibility while on the job, a lot of narrator models aren't too keen on having their photos taken, which is something this blogger will cosign to. The snapshots below are from my personal collection, all taken by myself.

Although not a common sight these days, hats were often worn
 with the outfits back in the 90s.

Another example of the 90s-style outfits the girls wore

Signing up new cell phone customers at Suwon Metro Station

A rear view of the above ladies' outfits

Selling international telephone cards in Seoul's Itaewon district. You can see yours 
truly in the window reflection, taking the photo.

Grand opening of a hof with a Western theme

The ladies in this group were happy to have their photo taken and even got
up to pose and dance when I approached them on their break.

At a bakery's grand opening

This was an unusual narrator model sighting as they were outside the base exchange on a
US Air Force base in Korea. The girls were primarily there to provide the eye candy while
 a lady off to the side was delivering the sales pitch for military calling cards, in English.

Promoting a special event at a Songtan nightclub

A pair working the Hyundai promotion outside of Ulsan Stadium, just prior
 to the USA-Germany match during the 2002 World Cup

Another model in a different outfit garnishing a Hyundai showcase car at the
same event outside Ulsan Stadium during the 2002 World Cup

Gas stations occasionally use narrator models in their promotions, as shown here.

Handing out sales brochures for Toshiba in one of Seoul's busiest districts
during the Christmas season. This girl was also part of a chorus.

Very young-looking (but over 18) doumis, who were promoting the re-opening
 of a popular Songtan night spot with cheerleader-type outfits and dance moves.

Grand opening of a Popeye's Chicken franchise

An example of two doumis who were not keen on having their photo taken. They
 wouldn't turn back around until I put my camera away.

Handing out free samples in the Myeongdong district of Seoul, which is
always a good place to catch narrator models, even off duty ones.

Seoul narrator model, Choi Ji-ae was recruited by her friend to help sell her store's overstock of wine
when I saw her. Not only was she very charming, her English was nearly fluent, thus breaking the
 stereotype that narrator models cared little of study and even less of English when they were in school.

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