My South Korea Travel Experience as a Blonde

August 7, 2013
My South Korea Travel Experience as a Blonde

foreign-correspondent badge final I have naturally dark brown hair, but several months ago I decided I wanted to be blonde. I live in Korea, where natural blondes are few and far between, and the number of salons that routinely dye dark Caucasian hair to bleach blonde are even fewer. After scouring Facebook, I found a hairstylist in Busan who deals almost exclusively with foreigners. I made my way down to bleach my hair a week ago and I absolutely love it!

Now, I know drastically changing my hair would entice some interesting reactions out of people, especially in Korea, where I’m already stared at in the street because I am a foreigner. Here are some of my favorite reactions to my recently acquired blonde hair from friends and family in the U.S. and Korea:

My South Korea Travel Experience as a Blonde

5. “Is that your natural color?”

This response is mainly from well-meaning Koreans who are meeting me for the first time and assume I have been a blonde my whole life. This makes me chuckle because, for one, I’ve only been blonde for a week, and also my eyebrows are almost black, and as such, greatly contrast with my hair color.

To a Western eye, I’d be pretty easy to spot as a non-natural blonde, but there are several people who have just assumed I was born blonde. It’s kind of cool to think that people out there know and remember me as a blonde though. I like it.

4. “Draco Malfoy…”

This was my brother’s brief assessment of my hair from my profile on Facebook. The connection was inevitable. Almost as inevitable as…

3. “What? Are you trying to be Miley Cyrus?”

This is from my Dad, who saw my hair briefly while walking in the background of a Skype conversation I was having with my mother. He hasn’t said anything else about it, which pretty much means he doesn’t like it but hey, that’s what being young is all about. Moving halfway around your world and doing things your parents think is silly.

2. Somewhat Aggressive Stares

Like I said, in Korea, even before I went blonde, I got quite a few stares while going about my day-to-day life. Usually it was from little kids at the grocery store or older Koreans. Their looks were always more inquisitive than threatening. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe I’m getting more self conscious, but I feel like the stares I get are more intense.

Mainly, these stares are from older women, and I don’t know if they hate my hair or if they have a stomachache and I’m in their line of sight, but they look pretty unhappy. I didn’t intend for this hairstyle to piss off some of the elderly. That would totally cramp my style. Maybe they can’t figure out if I’m a natural blonde either so they walk close to me and squint. Whatever the reason may be, it’s not hurting me, so I’m not too concerned.

1. “Shocked, teacher.”

My school just started our three-week-long, intensive English summer camp, so many of my students are new, and only know me as blonde. Some of our returning students, however, were a little taken aback on the first day of camp when I showed up with blonde hair.

One of the students I had during my first semester of teaching was taken aback even after seeing me for two days.

I was walking to the water fountain when I saw this particular student and I said, “Hi Jake.”

He looked up from his cell phone, stopped walking, and held his chest as though he were experiencing a heart attack extremely early in life.

“Jake, why did you stop walking?”

“Oh teacher,” he said as he started moving again. “Your hair…”

“You saw me on Monday. It’s the same hair I had then.”

“I know teacher but,” he looked around for the right word. “Still shock.”

“Good shock or bad shock?” I laughed.

“Uh, so-so shock.” He answered. I laughed and walked into my classroom.

Hopefully I’ll keep “so-so” shocking people with my blondeness and if not, let’s see what they all say and do next month when I dye my hair red!


My South Korea Travel Experience as a Blonde

Related Reading

So Much Culture Shock in South Korea
Losing My Way and Finding Myself in Seoul
Beware of This When Learning Korean
Finding Balance and Self-Acceptance in South Korea
3 Reasons Why South Korea Stole My Heart
South Korea Travel Tips: Rebecca’s Take on Health, Safety and Romance

Have you traveled to South Korea? What were your impressions? Email us at for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you. Top photo by Unsplash. 


About Kylie Genter

Kylie Genter is an English teacher in South Korea.

3 thoughts on “My South Korea Travel Experience as a Blonde

  1. August 24, 2018

    Funny post!

  2. anon
    August 20, 2014

    I’m not sure why everyone assumes that having dark eyebrows with lighter hair means the hair has been highlighted. There is almost no geneteic relation between the two; it’s almost like saying you can’t have blonde hair with dark eyes.

  3. deen
    August 14, 2014

    Those must be very interesting moments in your life. I hope it went so much fun 🙂

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