[iSSF 2020] “Sincerity is More Important in a Contactless World…COVID-19 is an Opportunity for the Top Content Creators”

Interview with Jiwon JUNG, Representative of Doll Atelier… She has written books and given lectures as a handmade doll artist
Entered the Online Hobby Platform After COVID-19 Outbreak… Sales have grown and her lecture was selected as the best lecture
“I try to communicate with sincerity in a non-face-to-face environment… It is my dream to be a guide that makes people happy
코로나19 ‘덕분에 챌린지’ 이미지. 사진 | 게티이미지뱅크

By Jinsol Lee | “Untact” is a new, unfamiliar word that appeared with the new COVID-19. “Un” was added to the word “tact”, derived from “contact”, to signify a contactless environment.

People who are trying to turn lemons into lemonade during this COVID-19 pandemic have created new words such as “ontact” or “intact (interactive intact)” and marketing them accordingly. It’s not uncommon for everything from concerts to school lectures to take place online through some type of platform.

The fact that we must recognize is that a crisis or disaster for the vast majority may become an opportunity for a select few. While many people are turning toward contactless services, most of them still haven’t found a clear solution, but there are still instances where even these people have found some fix.

Representative Jiwon JUNG runs “Doll Atelier” in Cheongdam-dong and she creates dolls and doll clothes. She introduces herself as a dressed doll artist as she crafts everything involving the dolls and their clothes from beginning to end, from hand-selecting materials and subsidiary materials. She’s already written two books and has become quite a household name in the field.

Making “dolls” and handling all the processes by hand seems far from the contactless services. However, Jung used this as an opportunity to drastically increase sales by working with online hobby platforms after the outbreak of COVID-19.

Jung, who is the second speaker at the “2nd iNdividual Survival Strategy Forum 2020: How to Survive In The Post-Coronavirus Era?” that will be hosted by iN THE NEWS on September 2, told me her secret to successfully adapting to the contactless era.

정지원 돌아뜰리에 대표. 사진 | 정지원 대표

How did you get to participate in the online hobby platform?

Last year, I had received a proposal from a company that runs an online hobby class platform asking if I would like to work with them. Nobody had anticipated COVID-19 at the time, and I had been holding my online classes for the past several years, and I didn’t see the benefit of the profit distribution conditions, so I had initially overlooked their proposal without responding.

However, there was a drastic growth in the online hobby platform as COVID-19 struck earlier this year, and when a few famous influencers that I know participated, I decided to join as well. The revenue was much higher than I had expected.

Is there a difference between how you give online lectures and offline lectures?

It’s the same. There’s no difference in terms of the curriculum or the depth of the knowledge that is delivered. And I think this is my duty to make no difference. I believe that I have to be consistent in my manners, no matter how people look for me and choose me.

People these days are more sensitive to information and they’ve become smarter. There’s no way you can deceive them. If I try to trick them and try to make the lessons different to make more money or for other reasons, then bad reviews and negative rumors are sure to start circulating.

There is one difference, which is that online tuition is significantly more affordable than offline classes. The online class system makes it possible for me to communicate with a lot more students than I ever thought was possible, so even if the class tuition is cheaper per student, it’s much more efficient in terms of overall profit.

Was there any aspect of online lectures that you put more focus on?

In a contactless environment, something that becomes even more important is showing your sincerity. One day, I received a message on Instagram from someone who lives in Guatemala. They said “Your work is not only beautiful, but it’s full of passion,” and said that they wanted to learn how to make doll clothes.

Even though I wasn’t able to meet them in person, I did my best to introduce them to all the information they would need to create their doll clothes. Starting from next year, the online hobby platform is planning to be released internationally, so that person will finally be able to take my classes. I try my best to be more sincere when communicating in a contactless environment. Since it’s hard to meet in person, I think that sincerity has become more important.

You said that sincerity will become more and more important going forward in this post-COVID-19 world. Do you have any other examples where you realized the importance of sincerity as you created doll clothes?

Some of my housewife students in their 50s and 60s told me that their new life began as they learned to make doll clothes. There are lots of housewives in that age who experience depression and low self-esteem when they’re kids are all grown up, and they have more time on their hands.

But once they learn how to create dolls and become trained, they start giving their lectures, go to exhibitions, and even get invited as artists. They become more confident and can hold their head up high again. This is very rare for most people who spend their spare time on a time-consuming hobby. They also told me that life has become more exciting.

I want to guide people into living happy and healthy lives through the knowledge that I have. I also want to foster more doll artists like me.

In this contactless era after the COVID-19 outbreak, I think sincerity that can be conveyed through content has become so much more important. If you can show your sincerity through your content, then I believe that this is an opportunity for you.

정지원 돌아뜰리에 대표가 인형옷을 제작하는 모습입니다. 사진 | 돌아뜰리에

As the IT demand increased due to COVID-19․ it seems like there is growing interest in classic hobbies such as handmade doll clothes. Why do you think people are interested in designing doll clothes in this kind of era?

It’s time for us human beings to be happy. Even though life has become more convenient thanks to technology and systematic advancements, people have lost their jobs and the economy has grown stagnant, yet our lifespan has increased. The number of people who want to console the emptiness in their hearts by reminding the analog vibe and childhood memories has grown.

Handmade dolls or doll clothes are classic items. However, I continue to work on making these classic items widely known using state-of-the-art technology to meet people’s needs. We live in an era

where everybody has a social media account. And as we’ve entered an era where the concept of non-face-to-face has become nothing new, we’ve become even more addicted to our smartphones.

I believe these classic dolls and doll clothes are enough to attract them and pull their gaze away from their smartphones.

What kind of changes have you experienced after the outbreak of COVID-19?

First of all, we have to wear a mask everywhere now, and since my 10th-grade daughter and 6th-grade son are not going to school every day, I have to do my job and run a household at the same time. It’s difficult to focus on work and it’s also hard to do housework properly, so I feel like I’m living on the border of work and personal life.

Also, the students that used to fill up my laboratory (Doll Atelier handmade doll laboratory) every week are no longer able to come. The lab was once a bustling place, but now it has been operating as my own space for several months, as there are no other visitors than me.

There have been inevitable changes in our personal lives and society ever since the COVID-19 outbreak began. What do you think is the biggest change?

The biggest change is that non-contact activities have become common in our society. Communities have become physically scattered and countless things that you have to do in person are now having to be completed through contactless means. These inconveniences are now a part of our daily lives.

We have to become quickly accustomed to living in a way where things can be done without having to meet in person. I think it is our priority to choose the online infrastructure and channels in a way and format that suit us. This is because the need to build and adapt to a way of life that transcends time and physical distance, has emerged much sooner than we expected.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19,․ the way of activity is rapidly changing to non-face-to-face across the socio-economic sector. How far do you think we’ve come?

From my point of view, my stereotypical belief had been abolished after realizing that we, human beings, can do what we have done face-to-face without meeting each other now. Non-face-to-face methods are popular in the way we have weddings, funerals, and other major life events, and we send our children to school every other week or once a week. These are all unprecedented, and it’s probably hard for everyone to accept.

People are saying South Korea is greatly handling the COVID-19 pandemic. What do you think we did well and what do you think we needed to improve on?

Korea is a medically advanced country and the government is very wise, prompt, and flexible with respect to handling this crisis, and I take pride in that. Compared to some of the world powers or Western nations that we think of as advanced countries, South Korea has proven that we have world-class knowledge and skills in terms of brilliant management and response for COVID-19.

However, it’s unfortunate that the traditional college entrance exams are being prioritized over our children’s lives and safety. It is not necessary to enter college at the age of twenty. Nevertheless, when I look at the Ministry of Education and related administrators who are so fixated on those traditional customs related to entrance exams, I always feel pathetic.

We will overcome COVID-19 someday and even if another crisis comes our way, we will be able to overcome again with the help of advanced technology. No matter what kind of disaster comes our way, I want to develop myself and my field, and I will continue to work with passion and diligence while always being alert and awake. If I can do it, I know that everyone else can as well. I truly hope that we can all take heart and become happy.

Jiwon JUNG,․ Representative of Doll Atelier

◇ Profile

Born in 1973
Bachelor’s Degree in Korean Language and Literature from Sungkyunkwan University
(Present) Chairman of the Independent Division of Dress Dolls of the Korea Handicraft Association
(Present) Class 101 Creator
(Present) Representative of Doll Atelier
Author of “Doll Clothes Made by Hand Sewing and Knitting” Author of “Doll Atelier’s Antique Baby Doll Clothes”
Edited “Obitsu11 Girl Doll Clothes Sewing Pattern Textbook” Reporter

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