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 above (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
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 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 promoted 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 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, thus breaking the stereotype that narrator models cared little of study and even less of English when they were in school.