Trial and Hair-er – Getting A Haircut In Korea

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Getting a haircut is usually a rather mundane part of everyday life. But when you’re an expat living in another country and you don’t speak the local language, it suddenly becomes a much more exciting and emotional experience. Every snip of the scissors and buzz of the clippers sends a rush of trepidation down your spine; because beyond uttering a few broken words of Konglish and showing the barber a picture of your desired style, there’s really not much you can do but sit back and watch in a state of helpless paralysis as he begins to sculpt your scalp. We all like to think “it’s only hair, it will grow back if I don’t like it,” but when we’re suddenly faced with having to practice what we preach and live with the consequences, our thinking drastically changes.

When I got my first haircut in Korea, I was extremely apprehensive and nervous. In hindsight, I wish I had brought a few pictures of myself (from multiple angles) from home of what I looked like right after getting a cut. It would’ve beat showing the stylist photos of random dudes on the internet whose hair roughly approximated what I was looking for. Since then I’ve gone about once a month and always to the same place (not only so they kind of remember me/the style I like, but also because it’s only $7!).

Like many other aspects of living abroad, getting a haircut is more of a process of “trial and error” than it is an event of “getting it right on the first try.” But with some patience and a little luck, I can assure you that things will more than likely turn out fine every time.

Below are some photos that I think pretty accurately depict the emotional rollercoaster I experienced on my first haircut excursion in Korea (to view captions for each picture, hover your cursor over each image).

Welp! Here's goes nothin! Please, God, let this work out okay. WAIT! I'M NOT READY! Uh...can we, like, control-z that last snip? Damn, I wish I could speak Korean. Eh, it's only hair. Huh, this is actually starting to look okay... Wow, that was close... I look goooooood.

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