Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Barbie In Korea

Korean Adventure (April 18, 2003 Chautauqua)

   Continuing my search for something to do in my free time, I turn now to the "Flower Doll House" in Seoul. The shop is run by Lee Joo-min, who has turned her interest in the American beauty icon Barbie into a thriving business.

   She began collecting dolls as a past-time, but soon found that hundreds of dolls were beginning to take over her house. Some way had to be found to manage them. Lee decided to set up shop, with the idea of renting out the dolls and their outfits.

   She has more than 300 dolls, of various nationalities, with costumes to go with them. Ken is there, as well. For 3,000 won (approx. $3.50) anyone can rent a doll of their choice, along with three sets of outfits, for three days.

   They can also rent various accessories such as sunglasses, bags, and shoes. Lee completes the experience by packing the rentals in a plastic bag depicting a Barbie theme.

   Public response has been good. "On average, I rent out 80 to 100 a week," Lee said. Customers have come from as far away as Inchon (50 km outside of Seoul). The store has even become a chain, with two more stores opening already.

   The range of customers extends from elementary school girls to housewives in their 40's. There are even college students partaking of the experience to try out their skills as designers on the tiny models.

   Lee believes that discovering how to take care of someone else's property is good for the youngster's, as well as the practice they get learning how to "co-ordinate different colours, and learn to appreciate the value of aesthetics."

   Even if dolls are returned in a damaged condition, Lee has turned it to an advantage. The "physically impaired" dolls are used to represent the handicapped members of society.

   Lee has some lofty ideals, that include "promoting a harmonious and humane society. I want to help build an intimate environment where children can play peacefully with others and understand the value of team work."

   It sounds like an ideal way to pass the time.

   On second thought, maybe not. Maybe I'll go and see a movie. Yeah, that's the ticket!

   Some of the information in this article was found in the “Korea Herald,” in an article by staff writer Yoo Soh-jung.


  1. Oh ... actual Barbie dolls. Heh.

  2. Hey, I realise you have left Korea and moved on and must accept that my vicarious joy from you bashing Korean Sentry has passed......but glad you are posting stuff still.
    Oh, I particularly enjoyed the poems.
    May I ask, is there an anthology/collected works of Korean poetry you would recommend?

  3. Kevin O'Rourke published a collection called "The Book of Korean Shijo" in 2002, which you can find in Google Books http://books.google.ca/books/about/The_book_of_Korean_Shijo.html?id=sa-jVj13rvcC&redir_esc=y.