Guys, dolls relive a model relationship

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Guys, dolls relive a model relationship

Jeong Seong-bum worried what to get his girlfriend for an anniversary gift. A compact disk of the latest pop artist seemed too predictable, as did a book. Flowers? He had already given her a bunch of roses on Valentine’s Day. Mr. Jeong, a 27-year-old computer programmer, wanted this to be special. He wanted a gift that only the two of them could share. But what?
After surfing the Internet, Mr. Jeong stumbled on the Dream Factory. Instantly, he knew he had found what he wanted.
The Dream Factory recreates special moments with, well, with dolls.
For instance, say a couple’s first kiss took place on a playground. Few people have the foresight to capture such a memory on video or with a snapshot. But with Dream Factory dolls, the couple gets, sitting cosily together on a swing, two adorable, jug-eared, male and female potatoheads.
The dolls stand 25 centimeters (10 inches). They are made of clay that has been baked in an oven.
The dolls’ creator, Hong Sung-hwan, 30, majored in sculpture at Chung-Ang University, and opened the Dream Factory in November 2000.
Mr. Hong’s dream dolls made their first appearance at a school exhibition when he was a freshman. He crafted two dolls to represent what he felt he and his girlfriend, Son Jie-yeon, had experienced. Ms. Son liked the models enough to later marry Mr. Hong.
After graduating, Mr. Hong worked in clay animation and made commercial miniatures. Eventually, he set up a studio near Kyung Hee University, northern Seoul and began turning out little clay scenes for friends.
“I like this job because every story the customers tell me is special, and I remember all of them,” says Mr. Hong.
From time to time there are odd stories, such as the customer who asked for a doll of his girlfriend bound in chains.
Not all the creations end well. “In some cases a relationship breaks up while the doll is still under construction,” says Mr. Hong. “We usually wind up keeping the dolls.”
“My business is called the Dream Factory because I recreate the dreams of others with dolls and also because it is my own dream kept alive,” says Mr. Hong. His wife now helps in the creations.
Additionally, Mr. Hong likes his work because he’s not doing it alone. “When I make the dolls and the scenes, I’ll discuss them thoroughly with my customers.” The dolls almost never resemble the customers.
It usually takes Mr. Hong and his wife, who is now his partner in the business, three to four days to complete a two-doll set. Since Mr. Hong opened the Dream Factory he has made nearly 900 sets.
The price of the dolls ranges from 100,000 won to 150,000 won ($83 to $125). “It depends on what materials I use for the background setting and the difficulty of recreating that moment,” says Mr. Hong.

by Lee Ho-jeong

The Dream Factory can be reached at (02) 967-4933 or by visiting www.
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