The Joys and Sorrows of African Hair in Korea


I struggled with a decision of wearing my hair natural for about 2 years. Every time I would go to the Saloon to cut my hair; I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was tired of putting all these chemicals in my hair in order to wear it straight. The agony of sitting under a dryer after retouch or every time I visited a salon was becoming unbearable.
I had heard stories of having to pay exorbitant prices to have your hair done abroad. Not to mention the hustle one has to go through to get their hair done. So when I got the opportunity to move to Korea, I used this chance to get the long awaited chop. I didn’t wait to undo the braids I had at the moment or tell anyone what I was about to do lest they talk me out of it. Because the last time I had visited a salon to cut my hairdresser refused to do it. (I am not sure it was in his on interest or mine). Anyway, I left office I went straight to the salon and finally got my big chop.
Having stayed in Korea for a while, I am certain going natural is one of the best decisions I made before relocating here. I knew managing my kinky hair abroad would be a challenge, but it’s nothing compared to the frequent salon visits for retouched hair. I have learned to embrace my Kaweke (Kinky) in my Teenie Weenie Afro.
Staying outside of Seoul, saying it’s a hustle to have your hair done is an understatement. Most of the African American salons are located in Itaewon, Seoul. Not only do I have to travel two hours to get my hair done, I have to look for a place to spend the night not to mention the waiting. This discomfort has helped me embrace my hair, and get creative once in awhile in managing my TWA.
I love the fact, that I can wash and wear my hair to work or to any occasions. I have had my hair braided and have it in Afros and my Korean colleagues are fascinated by the Afro. Recently, I had an episode at work where my workmates were awestruck by my hair. I had just “washed and worn” my afro something that I wouldn’t do back home. I have received so many compliments on my natural hair styles both from friends and strangers. I can survive with whatever style I choose to wear my hair. I am not afraid to wear my hair in any way I want as long as I am comfortable and still look stylish and chic.
It might be a struggle braiding my hair in Korea, but one thing I have learned is not to be dependent on hair stylists for styling, twisting, and re-twisting. I have learned to experiment and style my own hair and I am loving it.
Below are some of my natural hair styles;
Short Locs


Bantu Knot out




Afro after Bantu Knot
Mohawk Afro
Afro Puff