The Chosun Ilbo: Hollister Models Liable for “Excessive Exposure”


Always interested in how objectification is portrayed by the Korean media, here’s my translation of a brief article about the opening of Hollister’s first Korea branch last month, written just before the news emerged of how reprehensibly some of its models acted during their stay here.

While short, I found it strange that the article would raise the absurd possibility that the half-naked models were guilty of any offense, which could be interpreted as implied criticism of the event. But on the other hand, the author may well have mentioned that just for the sake of creating a story; after all, keeping the company’s name anonymous throughout the article, but including it in a photo caption from another news service, isn’t exactly stellar journalism.

Anybody that finds a better source on the objectification angle in the story, please let me know!

Update: Apparently, Hollister has used this shirtless stud gimmick in Asia several times. And, as Nathan McMurray of Korea Law Today puts it, it “always seems to drum up some controversy. That is likely their objective.”

해외 브랜드 개점 이벤트… 모델 끌어안고 촬영까지 “낯 뜨겁다” vs “신선하다”

Foreign Brand Opening Event…From Hugging Models to Being Photographed with Them: Just Embarrassing, or a Fresh Marketing Method?

31일 낮 12시쯤 서울 여의도 복합쇼핑센터 IFC몰의 해외 의류 브랜드 H사 매장 앞에서 직원 안내에 따라 20∼30대 여성 20여명이 긴 줄을 섰다. 그들 앞에는 근육질 외국 모델 2명이 웃통을 벗은 채 서 있었다. 한 20대 여성은 반바지만 입은 두 모델 사이에서 한 손으로 모델의 허리를 감고 다른 한 손으로는 ‘V’자를 그리며 사진을 찍었다. 구경꾼 30여명은 매장 앞에서 그들을 에워싼 채 연방 휴대전화 카메라 셔터를 눌렀다.

At about midday on the 31st of August, about twenty women in their twenties and thirties were standing in a line in front of foreign clothing brand “H” company’s new store at the multi-shopping center International Finance Center Mall in Yeouido in Seoul. Two half-naked, muscular foreign models were standing there. One twenty-something woman stood between the two men, who were only wearing shorts, and had her picture taken while making a V-sign with one hand and wrapping the other around the waist of one of the models. Thirty other women surrounded them and took more pictures of the scene with their cellphone cameras.

이 ‘조각 미남’ 모델들은 H사 본사에서 마케팅을 위해 기용한 이른바 ‘판촉사원’이다. 지난 30일 IFC몰 개장과 동시에 국내에 처음 들어온 H사 매장은 입점 기념 이벤트로 매장 앞을 지나는 이들에게 반라(半裸)의 모델과 함께 사진 찍는 기회를 제공하고 있다.

Described as “sales promoters” by the company, these ‘beautiful male sculptures’ were employed by the head office to market the opening of the store, the company’s first in Korea. On the 30th, the day of the IFC mall itself opened, they stood outside to attract the attention of passers-by and give them an opportunity to be photographed with them.

Caption: 30일 오전 서울 영등포구 여의도동 서울국제금융센터(IFC 서울)에서 열린 IFC몰 오픈 행사에서 국내 첫 입점한 홀리스터의 모델들이 해양구조대 복장으로 점포를 찾은 고객과 사진을 찍는 이벤트를 진행하고 있다./뉴시스

Caption: On the morning of the 30th, at the opening of the Seoul International Finance Center in Yeouido, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Hollister models dressed in lifeguard style stand outside the Hollister store to mark the opening of the company’s first branch in Korea

이날 같은 층의 다른 매장과 달리 H사 매장 앞은 손님들로 붐볐다. 모델과 함께 사진 촬영을 한 대학생 김수영(24)씨는 “모델이 멋있어서 친구까지 데리고 왔는데, 신선하고 재미있었다”고 했다. 회사원 박미정(35)씨도 “점심시간에 짬을 내 쇼핑도 하고 사진도 찍으니 기분 전환이 된다”며 좋아했다.

Unlike different stores on the same floor, on that day the outside of H comany’s store was crowded with onlookers. University student Kim Su-yong (24), who came to have her picture taken with the models, said “Because the models were so cool I even brought my friends. It was fresh and fun,” while company worker Park Mi-jong (35), also explained that “I made time in my lunch break to so some shopping and have my picture taken, I feel great now!”

하지만 “공개된 장소에서 뭐 하는 짓이냐”며 문제를 제기하는 목소리도 많았다. 회사원 조모(39)씨는 “(여성들이) 팔짱을 끼는 것은 예사고, 아예 대놓고 모델을 끌어안기도 한다”며 “아무리 마케팅이라지만, 남성의 성을 이렇게 상품화해도 되는 거냐”고 했다.

But voices of complaint were raised over its appropriateness in a public place. Company worker “Mo” (39) [James’s wife: “Probably a man”] said “[Women] wanting to hold arms with the models is just trashy, as is shamelessly hugging them,” and added “It may well be a marketing stunt, but isn’t using male sexuality like that simply objectification?”


일각에서는 이런 이벤트가 현행법 위반 아니냐는 지적도 나온다. 경범죄처벌법상 ‘몸을 지나치게 내보여 다른 사람에게 부끄러움이나 불쾌감을 준 경우’는 과다노출죄를 물어 10만원 이하의 벌금을 부과하거나 교도소 등에 최장 29일까지 수감할 수 있다. 또 형법에서는 ‘공공장소 등에서 음란한 행위를 해 다른 사람에게 수치감과 혐오감을 주는 경우’ 공연음란죄로 1년 이하 징역이나 500만원 이하 벌금 등에 처하도록 규정하고 있다. 서울남부지법 황승태 공보판사는 “이번 사례의 경우 두 법 모두 적용될 여지는 있는데, 정도를 따져볼 때 과다노출죄에 더 가깝다고 볼 수 있다”고 말했다.

From one perspective, this event breaks the law. According to the Misdemeanor Punishment Law, if someone “shows an excessive amount of their body to people, and causes them to feel embarrassed or upset as a result,” that person can be charged with excessive exposure and face a fine of up to 100,000 won and/or a jail term of up to twenty-nine days. Also, according to criminal law, if someone “commits a lewd act in a public place and causes feelings of shame or repulsion to others,” that person can be charged with public lewdness and face a fine of up to five million won and/or a jail term of up to one year. According to Seoul Southern District Court information officer Hwang Sung-tae, “In this case both laws apply, but based on the degree of the offense the Misdemeanor Punishment Law is the most applicable.”

모델을 매장 앞에 세우는 마케팅은 실제로 미국·일본 등 해외에서는 성행한다. H사 측은 2일까지만 이벤트를 계속한다는 계획이다.

This type of marketing which uses models in front of stores is common in the US, Japan, and other foreign countries. H company plans to continue this event until the 2nd of September. (End.)

*Apologies for the creative license, but the first image actually comes form the opening of Hollister’s Beijing store in May.

10 thoughts on “The Chosun Ilbo: Hollister Models Liable for “Excessive Exposure”

  1. “This type of marketing which uses models in front of stores is common in the US, Japan, and other foreign countries.”

    Sort of a strange comment considering how it’s widespread practice to stick pretty faces in front of many Korean stores. I think the contrast is gender-based (Korean stores usually don’t hire studly guys for promotion; generally just pretty college girls), but it also may have something to do with photographing- it’s not acceptable to take photos with the pretty girls in front of the make-up stores, or the cheering/dancing girls in front of a newly opened restaurant.


    1. Good points: it does challenge both the Korean business model and people’s – well, men’s – comfort zones, which is never a good combination for positive coverage in the Korean press.

      If they exist, you’ve got me motivated now to find those extra articles on the objectification angle, just to see if they were indeed uniformly negative. It’ll also be interesting to see the reaction to similar events in the future, although I think what happened in this case will certainly dissuade companies from using foreign models for a while.

      Before I forget, with every “성상품화” mention on de internetz whooshing its way to my Google Reader, I’ve seen guys strutting their stuff at more than a few promotions in the last few years (off the top of my head, one that just came up was for Stout in 2009; will pass on the link when I get home). But of course, it’s still mostly women, and the only guys I’ve ever seen working alongside female narrator models have been fully-clothed.


  2. ‘회사원 조모(39)씨’ should be ‘Company worker Mr. Jo (39)’ (as in, 김모씨 would be along the lines of ‘a certain Mr. Kim’ and 박모씨 ‘a certain Mr. Park’), and yes, there’d often be ‘(여)’ put after it if it was a woman, though that’s not guaranteed. At any rate, as for what Mr. Jo says –

    “[Women] wanting to hold arms with the models is just trashy, as is shamelessly hugging them,” and added “It may well be a marketing stunt, but isn’t using male sexuality like that simply objectification?”

    – the first sentence from castigates the women posing with and touching foreign men as ‘trashy’ and ‘shameless[]’ (imagine that!); I wonder if the second sentence about objectification is just an attempt to make it look like he wasn’t entirely coming down on the women.


  3. Honestly I think its awful and inexcusable. But the south korean media will do just about anything to sensationalize any form of racial discrimination toward them and excuse anything done to foreigners in their country. The kids here will keep buying that crap because they think its “famous” or whatever. You’re answering a question that wasn’t asked. This article deals with the bad behavior of Americans abroad. If that’s too threatening for you, and you need to change the topic to make it about the other guy, that’s fine. But you might sound more credible if you would just acknowledge your refusal or incapacity to self-reflect on your own culture first, before claiming that two wrongs make a right.


    1. Sorry, but I don’t understand your comment. Who is the “you” you refer to from “You’re answering a question…”? Myself, a commenter, or the author of the article I translated?


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