Victoria Maisak: Back to Seoul
More than a year has passed since my last trip to Seoul, and here I am again. I leave the airport, buy a bus ticket and after vain attempts to connect to wi-fi, I sink into my thoughts with the music sounding from my headphones. Trying not to make any expectations… but is that possible?! During the last modeling trip I had a great time here, and now I am curious what awaits me this time.
After one and a half hours of road, the bus drops me off near the hotel, and almost immediately, a big black car pulls up to it. This is for me. There are two of my managers in the car, and I already know the one behind the wheel, which I am glad of. Everything seems so familiar, as if I never left the city. They bring me to the apartment, help me to carry the suitcases and say “See you soon”, since I only have one hour free, and then I have to go to the casting.
I’m getting acquainted with the girls in the living room, trying to remember the names and faces, but in vain. Apparently, fatigue after the road almost a daylong makes itself felt. I recognize a familiar face in one of the girls – last winter we chatted together at the bar counter of one of the clubs in Shanghai. It’s always pleasant to meet people from past trips, although, as a rule, these meetings take place in a year, and even more, this is one of the difficulties of the model’s life – the absence of any stability, and loneliness. You seem to be constantly surrounded by people, but at the same time, you are all alone.
The room where I have to live for the next two months is not big at all, it has two beds, but for now I am alone, the second girl should arrive later. In general, this type of apartments is already familiar to me. Though last time I was lucky to live in a more spacious one where we used to meet with my modeling friends to play various games or simply to have some chat. Therefore, this time I did not have to bother girls with the questions: “what? where? how?”
There are three rooms in our apartments: two of them are doubles, and one is quadruple. We also have two bathrooms and a living room combined with a kitchen. The charlady comes once a week. Our agency has five apartments in total: three for girls and two for boys, and it’s about 30 models living there.
Having quickly taken a shower, I change into a model’s “dress code” – a black dress and threw my heels into the bag. In fact, models can wear any type of clothing, but black colors and tight fitting shapes are preferable. Before I arrived, my Korean agent sent me the email with a video on how to pose and the instructions on what should I take with me, how to make suitable makeup and what to wear on castings.
Prepared, I am heading with the girls from my apartment to the agency, which is just 10 minutes away. Coming to the agency, I understand that I know almost no one there. During the time that I was absent, the team has expanded and changed a lot. However, people are still very nice and friendly. I was given a bank card, so they could transfer my weekly pocket money ($ 100). Usually, agencies give out cash in hand, but not in Korea. Having a bank card is convenient because you do not have to mess around with coins, though there is no way for you to check the balance on this card and withdraw the money, so at the end of the week, when paying for your goods, you stand with your fingers crossed and think, “please, let it be enough”.
It’s time to go to the casting. Castings in Seoul are quite fast and pleasant. As a rule, the client chooses the models in advance, and on arrival we are already given clothes to measure, sometimes we are asked to pose, sometimes we are simply photographed in full height and that’s it. There are castings which take place at the agency, when the client wants to see all the models, then it can take much more time, but you can still chat with the guys or make tea, sit in a chair and read, etc.
During the modeling trips, the girls sometimes are immersed in their thoughts, thinking about home, work and other things, sometimes they turn on the music loud and all sing along, sometimes they just have fun talking about this and that. I love to talk with our managers or bookers, because during such conversations you can learn something new about the country, culture, and people.
I love Korea very much and it’s always a pleasure to work there. In general, the modeling work in Korea is similar to Spain and Japan: clients are nice, friendly, relaxed, they always bring you coffee and tasty food. Sometimes they let you keep the clothes after the photoshoot. Last year, the designer allowed me to choose any item from the collection we shot and although the clothes were not really my style, it was still a very nice gesture.
After castings, I am heading to the store. The prices horrify me: everything seems so expensive, especially after my home country which is in Belarus. Nevertheless, gradually you get used to it, and during your second trip you already know where to find it cheaper, so that you can easily confine yourself in pocket money given by the agency.
Every evening you get the email with your casting schedule or with the job details for tomorrow. Usually we have 4-5 castings per day; they rarely start before 10 a.m., so you can get enough sleep and sometimes even manage to get to the gym before that. Thus, after receiving such a message, I usually go to bed and have some time to think it all over and prepare for tomorrow. I would say, I am happy to be back to Seoul!