TLDR: Bolded parts.
I noticed a post going around on my dash this morning regarding the recast debate. Now, that’s not something I want to get into since I’ve already made my stance clear both on/offline. (I’m anti-recast/pro-artist for anyone who cares).
The point of this post is to speak from personal experience about the points bought up regarding the size/scale of Korean BJD companies.
I lived in Jecheon in South Korea for approximately one year, and then moved to Seoul for four years around two years ago. I was living in SK as most people do, teaching English in a private school. I wasn’t as into dollfies during my stay. However, I did have several encounters with different companies, so I feel pretty qualified to talk about them.
Their circumstances may have changed in the last couple of years since I’ve been back in my home country. However, this is what I experienced of them.
Luts: I really wanted to order a dollfie whilst living in Jecheon (about 2.5 hours train ride from Seoul). My supervisor at work was kind enough to phone Luts office in Seoul directly. They agreed to make a Delf Miyu for me (I only recently sold her on, and she was gorgeous).
A few weeks later when they set a date for me to visit them I traveled up to Seoul, and met their English-speaking representative at Dongdaemun train station. I really appreciated this as my current level of Korean was rather basic, and I didn’t want to cause them any problems.
The Luts office was in (as she told me), an old war time building in the middle of Dongdaemun’s stationary market. Said building was rather old, and a little shabby. It was pretty standard for the area since it’s a functioning old-school type market. As with most commercial buildings in Seoul, a lot of businesses were crammed into the same space.
I was actually rather shocked at the size of the office. There was no store front, just one room about the size of a standard living room. Doll boxes were neatly piled up along the walls. Two artists sat at the tables which dominated the room, working on dolls. They also had a small section with containers for their clothing/wigs/option parts.
There was no shop front - it was literally a single work room with 3 employees in it at the time. My doll was all ready for me (which I hadn’t been expecting given the time frame), and the staff were very polite and efficient.
Dollmore: Dollmore’s office is off to the bottom right hand side of the subway map (around Olympic Park I believe, but I’ve forgotten the exact station). I had a lot of trouble finding it, and basically stumbled across it after my supervisor had called them to say I was making a visit.
The office is a tiny bathroom sized room with dolls on shelves on the two walls, and a chaise long/laptop on a table for ordering. The staff brought me orange juice, and got an English-speaking representative on the phone to talk me through ordering my items. I saw glimpses of their warehouse area in the room behind - it looked very organized, but small with products all stacked up in boxes on shelving units. The staff gave me lots of freebies :) The only down side to shopping at Dollmore was that even during their supposed opening hours, I’d try to visit and they’d be closed. There were two staff on duty during my time there.
Volks Korea: As expected Volks was the only company I visited with a proper store front. (I know other companies now have cafes etc, but I didn’t visit them due to getting far more into visiting conventions for anime etc).
The Volks store is in Hongdae in Seoul. After moving there for a new job, I often visited. Hongdae is a very artistic university area with lots of independant fashion shops, craft markets, cafes, and cat cafes. In short, it’s a lovely area.
The shop itself is by no means large - it’s a single room split into two areas. One on the left for figure kits, figmas, nendoroids, rements, Pinky St, and other small figures. If you want scale for reference I’d say it was the size of a modest one-room apartment. Even the offices for the staff were only partitioned by curtains behind the single counter.
The right side of the shop is for FCS, doll clothing, wigs, and a small display area for current dollfies/special new dollfies. The staff are lovely, and speak a range of languages. The shop was usually quite busy, but never overly so.
Also they could accomodate figure pre-orders in a way I hadn’t seen elsewhere except for shops like Nonno21 in Kukje Electronics Market. Their selection was decent, but not massive in terms of clothing/accessodies/wigs. I never had any issues with orders, and they went out of their way to help me.
It was definitely the most ‘slick’ and funded operation I’d seen in terms of doll companies, but it still didn’t feel corporate/large-scale.
Anyway, enough rambling ~ those were my experiences of visiting some of Korea’s dollfie companies. They never struck me as large operations, nor ones who could afford to lose money from recasting of their work. I really hope those who are employed by them are still doing well, despite the issues which have become prevalent in the last few years.