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

This and one above: Signing up new cell phone customers at Suwon Metro Station

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 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 nightclub

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

Model in another outfit garnishing a Hyundai showcase car
at the same event as above

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. She 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 who were not keen on having their photo taken.
They wouldn't turn back around until I put the 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, breaking the stereotype that narrator models
cared little of study and even less of English when they were in school.


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