Sun-duk and I went to Apkujong this afternoon for the modeling shoot. What a strange experience! First, we went to the studio, where I spent an hour in the make-up chair. The girl was so thorough, she even did my eyelids and ears! Sun-duk talked the whole while with the agent (he was speaking much too fast for me to understand), and was quite excited at the notion of me becoming a model for casual and formal wear. Apparently, there's a demand for foreigners - good-looking wegoog-ins, that is! ;-) - to model these types of clothing. In fact, the guy was so confident in getting me work, he was asking when we would come back from Mongolia to live in Korea. Of course, I was vague about the notion, since I don't want put roots down anywhere in this great big world.
Anyway, with all the preliminaries through, five of us - Sun-duk, the agent, the photographer, the make-up girl and myself - jumped into a mini-van and headed to a park in Apkujong that's host to dozens of couples all gussied up in wedding attire, having their album pictures taken weeks before the big event. We settled for a quiet, and very quaint, small-restaurant district just behind the park, with lots of pretty picket fences, flower beds and gravel entrances. We got out the reflectors and started shooting almost immediately.
I was wearing my charcoal suit, and we took about a score of photographs before the agent asked me to change into my green suit. I had to change clothes two more times - shirt, tie, pants, everything - and we found different spots to shoot in. At one point, we ran into another crew that was taking pictures of a model. This girl was a minor television personality, apparently, since there were seven people in her entourage, including one fellow whose job it was to play mood music as the starlet jumped from one facial expression to another as the occasion warranted.
The first thing to shatter my modeling fantasy was the severity of the process. Watching "Fashion TV" and "Perfecto" in Canada, I had always seen top models sashaying across catwalks or affecting poses in the studio while the photographer snapped away. Well, that's not how it works in the real world, babies! Film is expensive, and ordinary models just scrape by, so each photograph is carefully planned. The photograph and make-up girl poked and prodded me into striking the proper pose whenever they couldn't make themselves understood; I felt like some kind of Indonesian shadow puppet whose limbs, back and neck were spun at the joints into all sorts of unnatural positions. It was all very disconcerting, and oftimes painful, as well.
Another problem I had not anticipated was having to freeze-frame the smile on my face for minutes at a time while the photograph fidgeted with his camera. Sun-duk would try to make me laugh so that I looked natural when the shutter finally snapped, but you can tell from some of the pictures that my smile is forced. This is especially true of the "teeth" pictures; my muscles were just aching!
Finally, there was the light from the reflectors to contend with. I had to keep my eyes open most of the time, just in case the photographer was inspired by a particular mien I had adopted, but after a minute or so, they would start watering horribly. First came the squinting, then the blinking, until the stuff would just pour out, and the make-up girl would rush over with a bit of tissue to save her work of art from being washed away.
Three hours later after we'd begun, the shoot was over. We went back to the studio to pick up our things, but unfortunately, there was no washroom for me to wash up in; I had to take the subway back home with my face all made up! I don't think anyone noticed until we ran into Sun, a Kyung Hee colleague, at the Hoegi subway station. She remarked upon the fact that I was wearing contacts instead of my usual glasses, then wondered why I looked so... healthy? I raised my eyebrows at her and showed her the pencil marks the make-up girl had drawn in, then she realised that my tan look was entirely accountable to pad and powder. We all had a good laugh before Sun-duk and I ran home so I could scrub the humiliation off me!
All in all, it was a unique experience. I'll most likely never have to go through it again (I doubt anyone will take a flyer on a "model" as old and pear-shaped as me), but at least we'll have gotten some lovely photos out of it.
Today was a great, big, funfest of a day! Sun-duk and I got up at the same time for once, at seven: I to go teach, she to go to the wedding shop for makeup and a hairdo.
I hurried on over to the hair salon after class at nine for a quick haircut, and from there scooted down to the shop. Sun-duk had already spent three hours in the makeup chair; it took me only twenty minutes after I'd changed into my tux, and I still had to wait another half-hour before they were done with her.
Here's a breakdown of what we wore: two wedding dresses, one blue evening gown, and a red-and-white hanbok for Sun-duk, and one pair of pants, two tuxedo jackets, three vests (black-and-white striped, ivory and red-and-black paisley), and a peach-coloured hanbok with a blue vest on loan from Sun-duk's cousin, Hye-young. I thought my bride-to-be was most beautiful in the dress I had picked out for her (an elegant, 19th-century V-neck number), and I most handsome in Hye-young's hanbok. The hanbok was definitely the most comfortable of the bunch, and I wish I could go to work every day in these things!
We set off for Yangsuri Lake, north of Seoul, all six of us: the photographer, the shop assistant, Ji-young and Myung-ok (two of our friends), Sun-duk and I. We put Myung-ok in charge of taking candid shots of the day's proceedings, ensuring a pictorial account of what went on behind the scenes (always more interesting, if less artistic, than "official" pictures).
We went to different places, various settings: the lakeside shore, a piered lagoon, an abandoned cottage, a narrow finger of pebbles and boulders tickling the calm lake waters, a cartoony, honeymoon-themed restaurant, and even train tracks (symbolising the crossroads of life?). It was cloudy when we began, but the grey skies soon parted and gave way to the sun's rays. Hopefully, our wedding, to be held in early July at the peak of the rainy season, will be similarly blessed by good weather.
We experienced the same problems I'd had last week in Apkujong - long minutes waiting, near-motionless, for each shot to be set, muscles atrophying, the sunlight burning our eyes... It was exhilarating, though. We both felt so damn good-looking in our clothes, and had the impression that we were creating something truly lasting and memorable - for ourselves, our families, our children.
Twelve hours later, at seven p.m., we were back at the shop, choosing the album cover. That concluded our "wedding day". We had Ji-young, Myung-ok and her husband over for dinner, and turned in early... we were just totally exhausted!