It’s much easier to say than do, but it’s true: sexiness is an attitude. To whomever is responsible for the spate of “sexy dances” in the Korean media in 2009, the vast majority of which have been anything but, let me counter with this 2005 Mis en scène commercial featuring Ha Ji-won (하지원), whose smoldering gaze at Jo In-sung (조인성) has burned in my memory ever since:
Granted, perhaps you had to be there: something really is lost in the transition to your smaller computer screen. And apologies for the poor quality, but this is now the only copy of the 30-second version available that I am aware of. Still, it’s worth preserving, even if only for myself.
I didn’t realize just how much however, until I saw this alternate 16-second version. While this particular copy – again, the only one – has better video quality, and is worth watching just for that reason, it ultimately falls flat because it lacks the build-up of the music:
By the way, it’s actually her gaze at 0:21 (or 0:09) that really did it for me in 2005, but I’m certainly warming to her long lingering one at the beginning. Meanwhile, like it or loathe it, can anyone suggest any more genuinely sexy Korean commercials, subtle or otherwise? Perhaps I should start a new series…
Update: This was part of a series of several with the couple, most of which you can find here or on Youtube. Considering how easy those were to find though, I was surprised and disappointed at how this one slipped through the net so to speak (no pun intended).
19 thoughts on “Mise En Scène: The Sexiest Korean Commercial Ever?”
There was a commercial for Elastin shampoo about 5 years ago that was just a woman slowly bending over a bicycle. To me, that’s the sexiest commercial I’ve seen in Korea and it was very subtle.
LOL…That was very easy to remember:
Hmmm…don’t know why that isn’t embedding sorry.
Anyway, I’m sure they’re out there, but a 5-min search only revealed similarly low-quality versions sorry. But speaking of Jun Ji-hyun (전지현), the model/actress in it, how could I have forgotten this one:
And that embedded just fine 5 mins ago?!! Anyway, that’s the commercial that got her started in her career, sometime in the late-1990s. Seeing it for the first time in 2002, I could certainly understand why, although again the accompanying music was crucial.
I’m not such a big fan of them, I think she looks too long and skinny – like a dancing sex octopus.
I think that that’s a bit harsh, but sure, the first at least doesn’t do it for me either. And if it’s sexy dancing, clothes, and/or stances that we’re talking about, then obviously we could be posting examples here all day. But still, those wouldn’t come anywhere near the class and sophistication of the one with Ha Ji-won.
you’ve sent me off on a mostly useless quest for one of my favorite Korean commercials, which featured a long, passionate, dare I say it – burning exchange of glances between . . . two men. I’ve searched all over for the Color Lotion cf from around 2002 featuring 안정환 and another well known male model passing each other going opposite directions down a featureless white hallway, blatantly checking each other out. It was one of the most astonishing commercials I’ve ever seen. And, at least from my female perspective, strangely enticing and sexy.
Sorry: I know exactly the commercial you mean (the other model was Kim Jae-won/김재원), and I had similar difficulties trying to find the video when I wrote this post on 꽃미남/kkotminam/Flower Men in July last year (scroll down on that a bit for a print version). Back then I did manage to find one tiny video on the Somang website, which makes Color Lotion, but since then the website – like, grr, most Korean cosmetics companies’ websites – has been changed to only feature the most recent commercials unfortunately.
Naturally(?) I didn’t find it all that sexy myself, but it was certainly a memorable commercial, as it takes a loooong time to persuade yourself that 꽃미남s aren’t all completely effeminate and gay afterwards…
Neither of the men involved behaves in a way I would call terribly effeminate, although there’s a strong undercurrent of homoeroticism. That commercial managed to crystallize for myself (and I’m sure a great number of women) the sort of thrill that many men seem to find in the idea of two attractive women together . . . and again, I would emphasize that the commercial was, at least to me, homoerotic without making either of the men particularly effeminate in action or presentation.
Sorry, I was a little sloppy with my choice of terms. Or to be more precise, to what part of the commercial they should be applied exactly.
Certainly their stare itself isn’t effeminate, and I agree with your description of it as homoerotic. I am especially intrigued with your thoughts on how it managed to crystallize for you “the sort of thrill that many men seem to find in the idea of two attractive women together,” and although I don’t have very strong fantasies about heterosexually-attractive lesbians myself (but wouldn’t be afraid to say so if I did), and that sexual tension(?) in that part of the commercial isn’t what I find appealing about the notion of two attractive women together personally, I’m sure that other men might find it so.
From what I remember of it though, the effemination lies in a gesture by An Jung-hwan at the end, brushing his cheek and opening his mouth in pleasant surprise because he thinks Kim Jae-won may have touched him…seriously, one almost expects him to swoon next, to complete the whole classically feminine gesture. And of course there is the whole – forgive my prosaicness – fact of their extremely pretty faces and skins emphasized in the close-ups: androgynous at best, but certainly not masculine.
Not that I wouldn’t trade their great skin over my own in a second though, and that in 10 years time having good skin – or even looking after one’s skin at all – will have lost a lot of its effeminate overtones.
And to be gay, of course, is not to act effeminately, but they’re still indelibly linked in most people’s imaginations (both Korean and Western). So although I think it was, if I concede for the sake of argument that that commercial with Ahn Jung-hwan wasn’t particularly effeminate, as standard bearer for Korean 꽃미남s he didn’t exactly challenge the 꽃미남=effeminate=gay link either. That so many Korean male celebrities still bridle at being described as 꽃미남 in the media is testament to that.
p.s. Sorry for going off on a tangent a bit here. What was your comment about again?^^
@ James Turnbull
Actually, there was an earlier commercial with Jeon Ji-hyun. It wasn’t as famous as the one for that Samsung printer, but it was the one that both started her career and the “sexy dance” trend/craze. Shortly after the video that you showed came out was a similar one was released, in which she’s wearing clothing with a cat skin design (It starts at around 0:30 of the video below.)
Also, regarding the video that you posted, there were immediate and persistent rumors that her bust was artificially enhanced perhaps through computer imagery.
I’m planning to write a post about this (It’s one of many, though.).
Thanks: I’d never seen nor heard of that other printer commercial, but with such a terrible costume, I’m not sure I wanted to!
But I’m a bit confused by your comment sorry. Was that the earlier commercial you refer to, or did you mean a different commercial entirely? If the latter, could you tell us a little about it please?
Sorry, let me clear up the confusion.
The video that I posted came out shortly after the one that you posted.
I have looked for Jeon Ji-hyun’s first video on YouTube, but no luck. It’s from so long ago that I don’t know if it’s possible to find it. Nowadays, Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world, but back in the late 1990s, it was a different situation. Now that I think about it, in a way, it might be almost as amazing a transformation as the one from war-torn-agrarian society to industrialized society.
The commercial itself was, I think, for some sort of sound system (or maybe a portable music player or headphones). Things were being bounced up into the air by the beat of the music. And, of course, Jeon Ji-hyun was dancing in a way that got me hot and bothered. I don’t know if her dance was really such a turn on, or if I’ve become desensitized by all of the subsequent “sexy dances,” many by Ms. Jeon herself.
Thanks, and I wouldn’t mind trying to find it on Naver or something myself. Do you remember the name of the…er…electrical appliance?^^
I’ve been looking for it for years (albeit on YouTube). I don’t remember the name of the appliance. Ms. Jeon was listening to music and dancing to it while the music beat was bouncing things up into the air. I think it was for a tape/CD player or sound system.
Check out the images on the homepage of this Korean plastic surgery clinic. I was led to this website through an ad on the Chosun Ilbo, which ironically boasted of the popularity of Korean-style plastic surgery in China!
And the Chosun banner ad included the face of the ideal European beauty prominently featured on the homepage! Incredible. I saved the banner ad and will email it to you if interested.
Thanks, please do email me that (to email@example.com). Would write more, but it’s 3:41am here and just got back from rare night of drinking, and before that my first movie at a cinema in 2 years!^^