Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Shall We Dance

One of the reasons the new Hi-Mart near us was so noisy was the almost constant thudding noise of Korean techno music. And there was a reason - it gave the girls something to dance to...

It seems that when electrical stores - and as far as I can tell, it is particularly electrical stores which are prone to this - want to make a big sales push, half-naked girls are positioned outside dancing to a loud beat. Apparently this helps sell TVs. Perhaps it really does, as hundreds of ajeoshis drive by thinking 'must buy high-def'.

The photos above are actually outside a branch of Samsung, which hasn't just opened, but clearly still subscribes to the sex-sells school of marketing. Or maybe it's meant to be an artistic thing. In the background a machine blows air through an inflatable figure of some description - another regular fixture outside these stores.

Back at Hi-Mart another two girls (and they always seem to be in twos for some reason), are more modestly dressed, but if anything are creating more of a visual effect with their neon-lit dancing pads.

But whereas the Samsung girls had the look of 'contractual obligations' about them, the Hi-Mart team seemed to be having more fun, flashing V-signs at anyone who looked at them on the road and also apparently me when I was taking this video. It can't be an easy job though - during my time in Korea I've been passed a number of times in stores by dancing girls heading for a break and they look often look sweaty and exhausted, and I can't imagine that it's made any easier by the traffic fumes they have to breathe in while cycling through their moves.

I was invited to a high-school show last year by a Korean friend who's a teacher. The school is vocational in nature and specialises in various kinds of performing arts, and there were clearly a number of girls who aspired to be dancers. At the time I wondered whether there was that much dance work available but I reckoned without the shopping jobs. It's not the stuff of careers though as there's definitely an age limit in operation - you don't see any women older than this trying to entice you into an ill-considered consumer experience.

Failed low-light photos are a constant headache with my compact camera, but somehow this one, for me (aside from being a pretty good representation of how I see things when I have a Meniere's attack), seems to capture the spirit of the dance and possibly Korea itself all at once.

Korean tags: 가게, 소음, 사다, 여자, 무용하다


Anonymous said...

I understand that your post deals with 'sex" but I actually wanted to comment on noise.
Do Koreans still wake up the neighborhood early in the morning with men in carts selling what-nots using the clanking sound of their metal scissors?
Does the constant noise of a busy city like Busan ever wear you down?
Are there noise abatement laws?

Anonymous said...

I'll have to reply to this question 'anonymously', as for some reason all addresses seem inaccessible today from both the ISPs we use, and I'm reduce to using a Tor proxy.

The answer is yes, basically. I'm not sure it's metal scissors so much as van-mounted loudspeakers which are the problem - but they can start as early as 5.30am in our area. They probably stop around 11.30pm but there are people walking by shouting their wares as late as 1am sometimes. The loudspeaker noise can be frequent - especially on market days - and I find it can really get to me when I'm trying to concentrate. What's more, something I haven't mentioned on the blog is that Korean drivers like to use their horns - so that's a fairly constant noise - and they seem to lack any sense of public conscience when it comes to when they use them - I regularly hear them at 3am in our area - not because it's busy - but presumably to attract the attention of friends.

So yes, the noise wears me down sometimes. Korea can be quite a noisy place, and it's a hard place to sleep. But, it depends where you live in the end - some places will be better than others.

If there are any noise abatement laws - and I've got to suspect not - like a lot of other Korean laws they are obviously not enforced.


Anonymous said...

The worst is during the summer when you leave your window open and people out drinking at 2AM and decide to start singing or start yelling at each other.

I think your proximity to a major apartment complex will increase your chances of getting woken up by the van loudspeaker guys.

Also, you also might enjoy a neighbour with a "slam the door really hard to ensure its locked" which is delightful.

Mike said...

I'm not sure it even needs to be summer. It was 4am the other night when a group of locals were under our window practising their shouting-over-the-border voices.

And yes, I have one of those slam the door shut neighbours :-) She gets home every night around 3am...

These days I tell people they can do a lot of things in Korea, but getting a good night's sleep isn't necessarily one of them.

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