Koreans and their fascination with black hair
Koreans have always been fascinated by my hair. For many, interacting with a black person was an entirely new and unique experience. I arrived in Korea in May 2014 with the box braids my Canadian hairdresser did prior to my departure. I drew crowds at the grocery stores, festivals and (of course) the school where I worked. At first, I simply could not understand their fascination with my hair. People would even walk up to me and pull my hair in an attempt to make sure it was real–something that is completely socially unacceptable in my home country. In retrospect, I handled all the attention pretty well. They referred to my box braids as ‘reggae braids’. I corrected them but was confused as to how that term came about. I was later told by a friend that a member of the K-pop group 2NE1 had box braids, so the term ‘reggae braids’ mus have been incorrectly adopted into Konglish through the K-pop music industry.
May 16th,2014-This was taken during my meeting with the Office of Education, the same day I arrived in my town. It was my third day in Korea and I was incredibly nervous!
My first Korean salon experience
I remember my first visit to a Korean salon like it was yesterday. Desperate for a conditioning treatment and new style, I went on a hunt for a hair shop that could cater to my hair needs. A friend of mine actually told me about a place called Family Hair Shop in Itaewon, so that was my first shop. I paid approximately 60 to 80 thousand won for a conditioning treatment and full styling with a straightener. The shop owner is Korean, but she speaks English incredibly well. Her shop was clean, and she also sells wigs, and braid extensions, can do a variety of braids, and more. I had such an amazing experience, that I actually went there multiple times. However, I really wanted to find a black hair shop because I wanted someone who was better able to understand and manage my hair long-term. However, I would highly recommend this hair shop, and below is the information. The prices do range obviously based on the style you want to do.
I had my first wig in Korea shipped to me from Canada. I began alternating between braids and wigs as a way to save money. When I was ready for a change, I found it was easiest and cheapest to order two wigs from home. I did not trust the wigs I found online or in Korea.
My first custom WIG EVER!
My birthday was coming up and I didn’t want braids or to wear the current wigs I had so, so I began to look for someone who could make a custom wig for me. I was looking for wigs on Ali Express and a friend of mine from back home told me that was a bad idea. Thank God I listened to her! She put me in touch with someone she knew in Canada, and the rest is history. I contacted her friend, ordered hair from my supplier, and had the hair shipped directly to her house. Below you can see the finished product. God bless this woman and her talent! She is amazing with her hands, and as I type this post, I’m wearing one of her wigs. She is also in the process of making me a new wig, too! You can see her work and follow her on Instagram @HAIRBYJESSYOHH. You’ll be thanking me later, I promise.
Unfortunately, getting a hold of Mary was a headache. Her number frequently changed and booking was sometimes stressful, so I once again began searching for a black hair shop in Seoul. In the process, a friend directed me to a woman named Nelly. I was very worried and nervous that she wouldn’t be able to meet my hair needs, but I took a chance and was glad that I did. The first time I met Nelly, I actually didn’t make an appointment. Initially, I felt loyal to Mary, but after waiting and waiting and receiving no response, I took the information my friend gave me and went to Nelly. Nelly’s shop was clean and she had helpers–THANK GOD! My hair took under 4 hours; wash and braids. I paid 200,00KRW, which I felt was a good price for taking out, washing and braiding a new set of braids. It also included the price of the extensions themselves.
In all honesty,Nelly is my hero. She is amazing at what she does, and she replicated the style I wanted exactly how it was in the picture I brought. The service was fast, the shop was clean, and she is now officially my hairdresser until I leave Korea. I highly recommend for all hair needs, and you can purchase Mary Kay products through her as well. Unfortunately, the only service she does not provide is wig making, so contact Jessica for that. Below is the style she did for me on March 1st, 2015. I actually kept this style for 3 months but I’m now proudly wearing my wig until further notice.
Hair By Nelly
Hair by Nelly