It's About Time: Fashion Makes a Jumbo StatementKoreans, after more than three years of a less-is-more economy, are reacting by seeking out goods that are big and showy. They prefer size, even if it means buying something that is not graceful or sophisticated. A whole line of products that emphasizes bulk has been released in every corner of the market.
The most striking evidence of this trend is the wangsigye, Korean for king-size watch. These days, oversize watches are found in nearly every watch store in the Dongdaemun area, one of the trendiest shopping districts in Seoul. In keeping with this "bigger is better" attitude, people often wear watches two or even three times bigger than normal. According to Kim Hoon-seong, the owner of a watch shop on the fifth floor of Doosan Tower, the success of these king-size watches was at first puzzling because he didn't think the watches were attractive. However, Mr. Kim is now a believer in the trend's popularity, and says, "These king-size watches take up at least a third of all my business sales, which is a lot more than I expected." The most fascinating part of this fad is the price factor － many king-size watches cost only 15,000 won ($11.50), with the most extravagant reaching 20,000 won. Moreover, Mr. Kim revealed that he may soon lower the price to 13,000 won.
Another must-have item for stylish young people is a bulky pair of footwear, dubbed "Gulliver shoes" from the celebrated children's book "Gulliver's Travels." The toe of the Gulliver shoe should be at least twice as long as a normal shoe. In fact, you can create an entire outfit of gigantic clothes by wearing Gulliver shoes along with a pair of baggy pants.
The fast-growing fad extends beyond the fashions of young people; the general public is receiving the trend with open arms. Recently, Korea Yakult Corporation launched its "King-size Ramyeon" brand, aimed at middle-aged, hearty-eaters. This was soon followed by "Him Ramyeon," meaning noodles that strengthen, from Ottuki Food Corporation. Compared to the noodles in an average-size instant ramen package that weighs 120 grams, these two hefty ramens are 17 percent larger. "Him Ramyeon," with energy-boosting ingredients such as ginseng, has become, like the big wristwatch, a big hit.
by Chun Su-jin