BUSAN, South Korea — Behind every good hair cut is a great hairdresser, and finding one in a country where English is not the official language is sometimes a challenge. Luckily, here in Busan, the options are becoming more and more easy to find, and The Hair salon, owned by Choi Young-na near Namcheon-dong, is known as one of the best.
To hairdressers, hair can be viewed as their canvas, where they are free to express themselves, and perform their art in hopes of achieving a masterpiece with every cut — or in the customers case, a haircut that makes us look good to whomever we are hoping to impress.
Located near Namcheon-dong in Geumnyeonsan, there is much more to do than just get your haircut. Not many salons around the city can offer a place where you can either take a rest, sunbathe, have a barbecue party, or drink beer or cocktails with a nice view on the roof. There is also a bar on the first floor where many of his friends and clients go after getting their haircut, a pretty decent indulgence after a haircut, indeed.
Choi Young-na started to learn hairdressing in Korea over 10 years ago, but when he graduated, he was still eager to learn more. With that in mind, he headed to London, England to the Vidal Sassoon School for two-and-a-half years, where he honed his skills and learned a more forward approach to cutting hair.
In Busan, there are hairdressers on almost every street corner, but knowing which one to choose (and trust!) is always a gamble. Choi understands the difficulties foreigners can have when deciding which shop to go to.
“Korean hair dressers are really good, but in Busan, not many speak English, and even if they can, to me the more important thing for a hair cut or color are they need to understand foreign culture style, not Korean style,” he said. “Especially, for coloring, you need to have to lots of experience.”
As hairstyles change all the time, these days, Choi keeps a step ahead of the trends by studying different styles, and always trying to perfect his art.
“These days, guys prefer long hair and asymmetric (side part is short, top and front are longer than the side), and coloring is popular for guys and girls this summer season,” he said.
The experience is neither your dad’s barbershop or mom’s hair salon. Nestled in the mountains, it provides a fresh, calm atmosphere where you can relax enjoy your experience, rather than feeling rushed and felt liked your being shooed out of the shop as soon as possible. They prepare a lot of different type shampoos (for coloring, hair damage, oily, dry, and fine hair) provide scalp massages, and cut your hair or add highlights – whatever it is you want or need for your hair.
As all hairdressers do, Choi stresses the need for hair care, and recommends everyone to follow the basics so they don’t damage their hair, or worst of all, prematurely lose it.
“Definitely, the basics are important for hair care, like shampooing properly, choosing a shampoo treatment product that is right for your scalp or hair type,” he said. “And washing your hair at night is better than in the morning.”
Though hair dressers are known to make the odd mistake, they are human as well. Many times, as Choi explains, they feel worse than the customer.
“Years and years ago, when I started hairdressing, I had a chance to cut a middle school girl’s hair, and the Korean school hair cut rule was strict at that time, so she needed the length to be 5cm under the ear, but the girl misspoke, so I cut her hair 5cm over her ear like she asked,” he recalled. “I felt awful, because she looked like a little boy!”
Though he’s been cutting hair for years, Choi Young-na is always ready to meet new faces and welcome them with a smile, and offers not just an ordinary hair cut experience.
“You’re always welcome to check out our shop, enjoy the fun atmosphere, and we’ll make you look good.”
To get there, take Exit 6 at Geumnyeonsan Subway Station, from exit 6, walk straight ahead and take the second turn on the right. Walk straight, up the hilly road round to the right, and it's on the right. You can't miss it. It's a huge modern wooden building. Look for the 'Ark' sign.