Korean models are popular among Koreans and non-Koreans, thanks to their unique looks, charming personalities, and English abilities. But did you know that their clothes don’t just come from nowhere? Korean models have behind-the-scenes meetings with their stylists before appearing on the runway or in photoshoots to discuss what they should wear. Some of those outfits are quite peculiar! Today we’re going to look at some of the weirdest things Korean models have worn in real life and find out why they wore them.
The pre-show anxiety
The models must prepare their hair and makeup every morning before the show. The lucky ones have no anxiety, but it can be pretty intense for some. About one in five Korean models have such severe pre-show anxiety that they become physically ill before going on stage. Known as pokchum daeu neunja in Korean (literally pink terror), this type of pre-show panic attack is triggered by fear and can also cause vertigo or dizziness.
The condition usually lasts about a day after a show. But it’s not uncommon for it to last up to three weeks if untreated. Some Korean modeling agencies are installing hidden spots where the girls can cry and scream in private to release tension so they can perform better on stage.
Fashion week isn’t what you think it is
Models at fashion week are some of the most beautiful people in the world, yet they must wear the strangest clothing you’ve ever seen. Korean models have revealed why they wear weird clothes to present a look.
At Korean modeling agencies, new girls are pitted against each other weekly for high-profile jobs. A girl who’s been around for a while can decline to participate if she feels confident enough in her standing with the agency or thinks. She looks too good next to a newbie (sometimes because she dyes her hair or wears trendy clothes). The model manager then reviews their options and picks which ones will go up against each other that week.
Camera flashes aren’t as bad as they seem
It’s not all that simply being a model. Sure, there are some amazing moments on set, but often the experience can be awkward or even downright painful. One of the most common nuisances for models is the need to stand in place for extended periods, which is made difficult with all the heavy clothes we have to wear.
Thankfully, I just learned from base models management that you could cut your fingernails very short and rub in some lotion before taking photos, and they won’t bounce back into your face when they dry! Another tip is to tie your long hair back as if it were a ponytail and then put it in an elastic-band holder, so it doesn’t flop into shots.
Clothes are chosen by more than just the designer
Fashion designers worldwide hire professional models to show off their creations during runway shows. As we’ve seen, it can be difficult for these models to get through the runway without tripping up and falling on their faces. Often, Korean models are sent out wearing unusual outfits, but this is all for a specific reason.
The clothes are often ill-fitting and uncomfortable, so when the model makes a mistake. Their clothing will rip open or pop off to show everyone how much better off they would be if they wore whatever the designer showed. This reveals what designers want people to wear and think about purchasing. While also makes some people laugh out loud at the public humiliation on stage in front of millions across the globe. Here you can get more information fashion forward women prefer skirts over pants.
It’s like learning a new language
Niki Kim is a model who moved to Seoul to pursue modeling. She was new in town and didn’t speak the language well. She tried asking the other models what they had for lunch, but they spoke Korean, so she never understood. I would often ask them what I should be eating or what kind of clothes I should wear, and they would look at me like it was a strange question.
The culture gap posed one challenge, but being a foreigner on an international modeling team often meant additional problems, like not understanding the backstage banter during fashion week or how long she had to walk down the runway before changing outfits. And if you can’t communicate with your fellow models on set?
Unseen forces at play
By wearing these uncomfortable clothes, models attract a wider audience and provide their perspective to those who have yet to experience the pressures of being a model. For some models like Liu Wen, the designer and stylist of her brand Enedy, beards are more than just unwanted scruff on your face. They’re an expression of defiance against society’s rigid standards for beauty. I know it is hard for young girls to see beards on men as attractive. But it will change when they grow up, she said during a recent event in Beijing. She also advises that you never judge what you don’t understand.
Why Korean wear loose clothes
Aside from putting something on that they like, some Korean models wear loose clothes to improve their body shape. In Korea, a smaller waistline is the equivalent of beauty. The thinner and smaller the waist, the more beautiful you are thought to be.
The clothes are designed with an elastic waistline to look like they have a smaller waist than they do. Some models also use an ulzzang-cut (straight top) instead of an A-line cut dress because this also helps to slim their appearance and hide any chubbiness around the stomach or hips.
Can you wear revealing clothes in South Korea?
It’s not that you can’t, but it takes a lot of consideration and strategy. To understand the fashion industry in South Korea, we need to take a step back and explore the cultural context of what’s accepted as normal in this country. A common misconception is that any revealing clothing is acceptable in Korea because it’s a rapidly modern society. That may be true for Seoul. Which is about 40% less religious and conservative than the United States, but country towns are vastly different. Furthermore, even when living in Seoul or other major cities, there are some rules one must follow.
Can I wear shorts in Korea?
At first glance, they can seem absurd. A quick scroll through your Instagram feed will reveal many images of celebrities wearing skirts over pants or dresses with a straight cut just above the knee. If you’ve been invited to attend a wedding in Korea and wonder what on earth is going on with all the weird clothes, there’s an explanation. Various social classifications dictate different clothing styles in South Korea based on three elements: rank, age, and sex. Historically in Korea, these designations were correlated with legal statuses, such as aristocrats and enslaved people.
Prestigious agencies spend a lot of time, money, and attention on their international face. Koreans have been the most active buyers of luxury items in recent years and now form the second-largest market in Asia (after Mainland China). Modeling is a stepping stone to acting or singing careers, so there’s fierce competition for every spot. It helps if you can also show off your talents on screen. Modeling provides a good opportunity to work with K-pop agencies. And many talentless but beautiful girls are chosen just because they’re popular on YouTube or get millions of Instagram followers—everyone wants to make sure they’re visible online, which reflects positively on the agency.