So how I know that Korea (and in particular, Seoul) is a very “happening” place is that it is very easy to just walk into an event which you have no idea about, only to see it reported on the news later.
A couple of days ago sitting on the bus, I was sure that I saw a whole bunch of 외국인 male torsos outside Kyobo Building in Kangnam, not far from the Shin-Nonhyun 신논현 station, and now I have little doubt that these were the models who were drafted to publicize the Abercrombie and Fitch store in 청담, as I see the reports in the Korean press.
The Korean press is not so flattering about the opening. Both 한국경제 and Seoul Shinmun focus on the controversy behind the brand. In my opinion, nothing else highlights the dichotomy of the Korean nature as much as when such brands land in Korea- on the one hand, we have Koreans willing to pay much higher prices for these foreign brands compared to what they are sold for outside of Korea, on the other hand, the Korean press having to do its duty as some sort of paper-soldiers of the Hermit-Kingdom likes to emphasize the fact the 한국소비자가 봉이다 (Korean consumers are easy (slang for “to sell high to” or “to dupe”), as well as the controversial racist incidents surrounding the brand – in the case of A&F, the male models from Hollister (the sister brand of A&F) making Asian eyes and twittering last year.
A&F has purportedly been sticking to the principle “it is a brand for white people only” that they would not open in Asia or Africa until 2000′s, and apparently the CEO has said they would only like young, beautiful and thin people to wear the brand in an interview.
Personally, I get a kind of uneasy feeling every time I see these A&F male torsos anywhere in the world – be it London’s Savile Row, German shopping malls, outside Kyobo – is it just me or is it not as offensive as some corn-fed hard-core gay porn shot in beach background shoved right in your face?