“Kevin is a very technical stylist. I was immediately impressed by his patience, precision and attention to detail. A stylist of his training and skill level in the States could easily charge five times his rate.” — Max Johnson, professional stylist.
Kevin Jeong is only 27 years old and has already been cutting hair for a decade. Instead of attending college like many of his peers, Kevin said he passed on the traditional curriculum and began his education in the salon at age 17 and never looked back.
Kevin cuts at least 30 different foreigners’ hair on the island and with each new client he is sure to bring in another. Horror stories circulate about poor dye jobs and miscommunication with other hairdressers on the island, but rarely, if ever, is there a complaint if they sit in front of Kevin.
The salon experience at Natural Beauty or Toni&Guy, where you can find Kevin Tuesday through Sunday is unlike any other you will find in the US. At least for the reasonable price you pay. For a shampoo, head massage, cut and blow dry you pay a mere 12,000 won (US$11). For a female cut and blow dry, only, at a Toni&Guy in London you base pay 48 pounds or $85 in Vancouver, Canada.
Have you always wanted to be a hairdresser? My parents suggested I become a hairdresser. I started preparing when I was 17, I didn’t even go to college.
Is it common for Korean parents to suggest a career for their child and for the child to follow their wishes? Yes, but I wanted to be a hairdresser.
What is it about cutting and styling hair that fascinates you? Everything about it, I especially like cutting hair. I always want my customers to be happy. When they are happy I am happy. Where did you train? I have spent time in Seoul, in England, and each month a tutor comes to the salon to teach. I also teach. How does the atmosphere in a salon in England compare to one here in Korea? Each salon is has its own characteristics. Some of the salons in England are like the ones here in Korea, some are very different. In the US the salon is considered a place where you can go and talk and catch up the gossip. Is that the case here as well? Do your customers confide in you? I speak with the Koreans a lot but not with foreigners because my English is not good enough.
Is it more common for men or women to be hairdressers in Korea? More common for women, but there are more men hairdressers that work here.
If your customer complains that you didn’t cut their hair correctly, what do you do? I continue to work until they are satisfied.
How is it different working with Korean hair and foreigner hair? Foreigner hair is easier to handle because Korean hair is thicker, but both have their strengths and weaknesses. Who colors their hair more, Koreans or foreigners? Koreans style their hair more, so they usually color their hair more. Koreans usually go with what is the trend, but foreigners usually request something unique to them.
Are foreigners typically nervous when they come to you? The first time usually, but they mostly come here because someone has recommended it, so they are more comfortable.
What are the popular hair styles now? Large, wavy perms.
What is the most challenging thing about your job? There are many difficulties, but I enjoy them.
What are your future plans? Most hairdressers hope to have their own shop someday and I hope to also. Who do you look up to? Vidal Sassoon. Why do you think Vidal Sassoon are so successful? They try very hard.
You can make an appointment with Kevin via Facebook or come into the salon, Natural Beauty or Toni&Guy in person. The salons are located beneath CGV theatre in Jeju City Hall.
Prices range from 50,000 won for a color treatment to 70,000 won for a woman’s perm and can cost more depending on the length of your hair. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week. Weekends 1 p.m. to midnight. (Interpretation by Koh Yu Kyung)
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