Haircut in South Korea

Fashionable Korean girl who is wearing her hair in a bob with bangs
Photo: LeoPatrizi/Getty Images Signature via Canva
K-dramas, K-pop and K-hair
Korean dramas and K-pop music have become incredibly popular in Western countries, and with them Korean hairstyles, thanks to the influence of K-drama actors and actresses and K-pop stars. The South Korean entertainment industry is playing a key role in spreading Korean culture around the world, which has led to a growing interest in Korean hair fashion.
K-dramas are renowned for their top-notch visuals, captivating plots, and attractive actors and actresses. As a result, they have gained a large following in Western countries, where viewers have been captivated by the stylish and fashionable looks of the actors and actresses. Viewers have been inspired by the hairstyles and started to search for hairdressers that can give them similar looks.
K-pop music has also had a major impact in popularizing Korean hairstyles in Western countries. K-pop stars are known for their daring and innovative looks, which often feature unique and creative hairstyles. The styles are often bold and are influenced by a combination of Asian and Western cultures. K-pop fans have been inspired by the appearances of their favorite stars and have begun to copy their hairstyles.
There are plenty of hairstyles to pick from, with something for everyone, but some cuts have become really popular. For men, the two-block haircut - 투블록 - is a popular style in South Korea. It involves cutting the sides and back of the hair very short, while keeping the top section long and full. For women, the see-through bangs haircut - 시스루 뱅 앞머리 - is a popular style. It features bangs that are thinned out at the tips.

You can take a photo of your favorite South Korean celebrity to your hairdresser and ask them to cut your hair like that, but it won't be quite the same. Only a real Korean hairdresser will be able to make your hair look as close to the celebrity's hairstyle as possible. This has a lot to do with the cutting techniques used. So, if you, being a fan of Korean culture, travel to South Korea, why not get a haircut there? Getting a haircut in South Korea can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience hair cutting techniques that are not widely available elsewhere.
Get your hair cut in Seoul!
Since most foreign visitors to South Korea visit Seoul, I recommend getting your hair cut there. It might be a better option than other cities in South Korea. Seoul is known for being a trendsetter in beauty, and its salons often set the standards for hair fashion throughout the nation. Many Korean celebrities and K-pop stars get their hair cut in Seoul, and the city's hair salons offer the latest and most fashionable hairstyles, making it an ideal location for those who want to immerse themselves in South Korean hair fashion.
Seoul by night skyline with Seoul Tower and Lotte Tower
Photo: Aomam/Getty Images via Canva
Seoul's hair salons are renowned for their cutting-edge technology and inventive hairstyling techniques. The city has a variety of hair salons that accommodate different budgets. There are upscale salons that offer luxurious services, and there are also more budget-friendly salons that provide great haircuts at reasonable costs.
Prices will vary depending on the type of salon you go to and the services you select. Prices at a high-end hair salon can range from KRW 50,000 to KRW 200,000 or more. Budget salons may charge as little as KRW 10,000 for a haircut. No matter what kind of salon you select, you will usually pay only a fraction of what you would pay for a similar service in Western countries.
One of the significant challenges when getting a haircut in South Korea is the language barrier. Many salons outside of Seoul may not have staff who speak English, which can make it very hard to express your desires and needs. On the flip side, salons in Seoul that serve foreign customers may have English-speaking staff who can comprehend your requirements better. However, keep in mind that even in Seoul your hairdresser may not know enough English.
hair salon in Seoul
Photo: Ethan Brooke/Pexels
Cultural Differences
Getting a haircut in South Korea is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, however, there are some cultural differences to be aware of.
• It is common for South Korean salons to have a no-tipping policy, which means that customers are not expected to give their hairdressers a tip. This is different from many Western countries, where it is sometimes customary to tip in hair salons.
• It is expected that customers come to the salon with clean hair. In Korean culture, it is considered impolite to arrive at a salon with dirty or oily hair.
• Cultural influences will play a role in how hair is cut and styled in South Korean hair salons. Korean beauty standards often prioritize a more natural and minimalist look, with an emphasis on keeping hair healthy and shiny.
• Cultural differences may influence how certain terms or concepts are understood. A woman or man from the West may use different words than someone from South Korea to describe a particular haircut.
• Many South Korean hair salons are equipped with some of the most up-to-date hair styling technologies and products, which are not yet available in many Western countries. For some this can be a bit overwhelming.
Korean girl with long hair
Photo: Miya227/Getty Images via Canva
Differences between Korean and Western heads and hair
One of the main differences between Korean and European women and men is their facial features. Koreans typically have broader and flatter facial features, with a flatter nose, lower nose bridge, and smaller eyes. On the other hand, Europeans have more distinct facial features, with a higher nose bridge, bigger eyes, and more noticeable cheekbones. These differences will affect the way hair is cut and styled, particularly around the face and the forehead.
Another difference between Koreans and Europeans is their hair texture. Koreans typically have straight and fine hair, while Europeans may have curly, wavy, or coarse hair. This can influence how hair is cut and styled, as different hair textures necessitate different techniques and approaches. This can be a challenge for a stylist who only has experience cutting Korean hair.
Language barrier & Vocabulary
If you don't speak Korean, it's a good idea to bring a photo of the hairstyle you want. This will bridge language and cultural barriers and help to make sure that you and the hairdresser are on the same page, even if you don't speak the same language.
Although language barriers may present some challenges, getting a haircut in South Korea can be an excellent opportunity to communicate with your hairdresser in a unique way. In addition to the photo, you might need various gestures to express your preferences. This can be a fun and creative way to communicate with your stylist and to change your look ... with or without any surprises due to misunderstandings.
Young Korean woman with beautiful hair
Photo: Torwai/Getty Images via Canva
It may be helpful to know some basic Korean words and phrases to communicate with your hairstylist. Here are some words and phrases that you might need in a Korean hair salon. This is a limited list, but hopefully this Korean hair salon vocabulary will be useful for your visit. Use it at your own risk 😉 ✂.
Hello = 안녕하세요 = annyeonghaseyo
Thank you = 감사합니다 = gamsahabnida
Good, I like it. = 좋아 = joh-a
Please don't do that. = 그러지 마세요 = geuleoji maseyo
My hair = 내머리 = naemeoli
Hair salon = 헤어 살롱 = heeo sallong
Haircut = 이발 = ibal
Hairstyle = 헤어스타일 = heeoseutail
Long hair = 긴 머리 = gin meoli
Short hair = 짧은 머리 = jjalb-eun meoli
Ponytail = 포니테일 = poniteil
Braid = 땋은 머리 = tah-eun meoli
Straight hair = 생머리 = saengmeoli
Wavy hair = 물결 모양의 머리 = mulgyeol moyang-ui meoli
Curly hair = 곱슬머리 = gobseulmeoli
Bangs = 앞머리 = apmeoli
Choppy bangs = 처피뱅 = cheopibaeng
Straight bangs = 일자앞머리 = iljaapmeoli
Side bangs = 깻잎머리 = kkaes-ipmeoli
See-through bangs = 시스루 뱅 앞머리 = siseulu baeng apmeoli
Bob cut = 밥 컷 = bab keos
Short haircut (for women) = 숏컷 = syoskeos
Short haircut (for men) = 반삭머리 = bansagmeoli
Pixie cut = 픽시 컷= pigsi keos
Two-block haircut (for men) = 투블록 = tubeulleog
I need to get my hair cut. = 머리 좀 잘라야겠어 = meoli jom jallayagess-eo
I want a cut and blowdry. = 커트와 드라이를 하고 싶어요 = keoteuwa deulaileul hago sip-eoyo
Can you do it like this photo? = 이 사진처럼 해 줄 수 있어요? = i sajincheoleom hae jul su iss-eoyo?
Can you show different hairstyles? = 다양한 헤어스타일을 보여줄 수 있나요? = dayanghan heeoseutail-eul boyeojul su issnayo?
What hairstyle do you recommend? = 어떤 헤어스타일을 추천하세요? = eotteon heeoseutail-eul chucheonhaseyo?
Will this hairstyle suit me? = 이 머리모양이 저에게 어울릴까요? = i meolimoyang-i jeoege eoullilkkayo?
I want a whole new hairstyle. = 완전히 새로운 스타일로 해 주세요 = wanjeonhi saeloun seutaillo hae juseyo
What length should I cut my hair? = 어떤 길이로 자를까요? = eotteon gil-ilo jaleulkkayo?
Should we change to short hair? = 짧은 머리로 바꿀까요? = jjalb-eun meolilo bakkulkkayo?
Please trim it a bit. = 살짝 다듬어 주세요 = saljjag dadeum-eo juseyo
Cut the back a little. = 뒤로 조금만 자르세요 = dwilo jogeumman jaleuseyo
Cut it to shoulder length. = 어깨 길이로 잘라주세요 = eokkae gil-ilo jallajuseyo
Don't cut it too short. = 너무 짧게 자르지는 마세요 = neomu jjalbge jaleujineun maseyo
Cut it so that it covers the ears. = 귀를 덮을 정도로 잘라주세요 = gwileul deop-eul jeongdolo jallajuseyo
Can you cut a bit more? = 좀 더 잘라 주실래요? = jom deo jalla jusillaeyo?
Cut both sides to the same length. = 양쪽을 같은 길이로 잘라주세요 = yangjjog-eul gat-eun gil-ilo jallajuseyo
Please cut layers. = 층을 내서 깎아 주세요 = cheung-eul naeseo kkakk-a juseyo
Please do not cut layers. = 층 없이 해주세요 = cheung eobs-i haejuseyo
I want my bangs cut. = 저는 앞머리 좀 자르고 싶어요= jeoneun apmeoli jom jaleugo sip-eoyo
Cut it to a length that covers the eyebrows. = 눈썹을 덮는 정도 길이로 잘라주세요 = nunsseob-eul deopneun jeongdo gil-ilo jallajuseyo
You have probably figured it out by now; getting a haircut in South Korea can be a unique and enjoyable experience. From the trendy and fashionable styles to the meticulous attention to detail by skilled hairdressers, it's no wonder that South Korea has become a leader in the beauty industry.
Don't be afraid to step into a Korean hair salon and try something new. With an open mind, you are sure to leave with a fresh new look and a newfound appreciation for Korean hair fashion. Why not book an appointment when you visit the country and treat yourself to a Korean-style haircut?