Tag: Western Shopping in Korea

Shopping in Korea: A Love (Hate) Letter


Shopping in Korea:

“Who’s there?”
“A waygookin trying to spend money.”
“Oh f*ck no, not again…”

I love retail. ¬†Shopping is a hobby of mine and it’s hard to beat in Korea. ¬†When shopping in Korea, prices are cheap and clothes are cute. ¬†With the 4 drastically different seasons (cue massive eye-roll from the expat community), there are plenty of opportunities to switch up your look. ¬†Shopping in Korea is a bitch. ¬†It doesn’t have to be, however. Korean retailers could opt to take advantage of the massive number of foreign workers (and their hard-earned won), but for some reason refuse to acknowledge this insane opportunity for profit. ¬†I love you, Korea…but I’ve got some questions for retailers in the land of morning calm.

What’s the deal with “One Size Fits All”?

I fit into your OS clothing most of the time (yes – even non-stretchy stuff), but frequently things are just¬†too short (I’m 5’8″ tall). ¬†Skirt and pant length in Korea call for a whole new article (a belt is not a skirt, ladies). ¬†It’s ridiculous that given the changes in Korea over the past 50 years you still assume that everyone is the same height. ¬†Most of the Korea women in my workplace are actually quite tall. ¬†While many of them are slender, most of them are actually quite voluptuous. ¬†I don’t mean fat, I mean that several of them actually are taller and curvier than I! ¬†Aren’t you tired of operating at a loss having to discount all the clothing that really should be labeled “one size fits 20% of our population”?

That Girl Cartier - Shopping in Korea

Why do you insist on being c*nty to foreign shoppers?

“As¬†of September 2015, according to the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, the foreign population in South Korea, including migrant workers, increased to 1.8 million, accounting for 3.4% of the total population.” – Chosun News.¬† That’s a rise of nearly a quarter of a million people over a period¬†of 4 years. ¬†I would estimate that we’re closer to 2 million migrant workers leading into 2017. ¬†It’s not like we’re¬†new, and it’s clear that we’re not going away (at least not en masse) anytime soon. ¬†You’ve had a significant number of migrant workers in your country since before most of your retail associates were born. ¬†Why won’t you reprimand your employees who are little shits to your customers?

I don’t have a Korean body, but I fit into your clothes just fine. ¬†I’m tired of being told I’m not allowed to try on clothing because I’m wearing makeup. ¬†It’s especially offensive when I don’t have a lick of makeup on. ¬†I’m aware that you think I’ll stretch out your apparel, but newsflash for you Mr. Walter Cronkite – I won’t. ¬†When I’m treated differently because I’m a foreigner, I tell my other foreign friends. ¬†When I’m treated well, I tell my friends, followers, and people in line for coffee. ¬†You complain about how Native English Teachers make more money¬†than Korean.¬† Guess what? ¬†We spend more, too. ¬†There are plenty of ESL Teachers who don’t have bills to pay off and who enjoy shopping in Korea every…damn…weekend. ¬†Get with the program and train your staff to treat all clients with respect.

Why does your footwear detract from every outfit?

When I moved to Seoul from Busan I was so concerned about not having an adequate wardrobe. ¬†I live and work in an area adjacent to Gangnam. ¬†The first time I went to Apgujeong I actually dressed up. ¬†What a waste of time! ¬†Most people have masks covering their faces (whether it be pollution or surgery). ¬†What I’ve really noticed in both Busan and in Seoul is the footwear. ¬†It’s atrocious! ¬†You see these beautiful women in perfect outfits sullied by filthy, faded, knock off ASICS Sneakers. ¬†You’ve got 7 seconds to make a first impression. ¬†The first thing someone notices about you are your shoes, and you choose these? ¬†At least I have an excuse – I’m waiting for my eBay order to come in because you won’t supply shoes larger than a size 8!

Did you know that there are black people living in your country?

Holy shit! ¬†Korea is no longer a homogeneous society! ¬†Now, you not only have multicultural societies popping up all over Korea, you’ve got their kids, too! ¬†You lucky, lucky industry. ¬†You would think that you’d figure out you’re completely missing the K-Beauty market beyond Asians. ¬†The question I see come up the most in the expat forums is where to buy foundation for darker shades. ¬†We were actually just talking about it this weekend with Star – 87Pages¬†(pictured above with Mika The SeoulChild)¬†and Sam –¬†Expat and the City. ¬†You don’t have to come up with something new altogether. ¬†Places like Olive Young, LoHB (a Lotte brand), and Watson’s would make a killing if they imported products designed for black women. ¬†Know the audience in your industry.

That GIrl Cartier - Shopping in Korea - Son & Park Shading Presso Bronzer

P.S. Big thanks to Olive Young and Son & Park¬†¬†for bringing in the Shading Presso. ¬†I needed bronzer and was about to spend my life’s savings over online at Sephora. ¬†This product was designed for contouring, but I pretty much just blend it all together and make my face look less pasty. ¬†Beauty blogger in the making right here, ladies and gents.

Korea, I love you but shopping in Korea is bringing me down. ¬†When I want a new pair of kick-ass sneaks I shouldn’t have to go on eBay. ¬†I shouldn’t have to be hustled out of a store, or directed to the men’s section. ¬†Last time I went shopping in Garusogil and had planned on buying outfits for a friend of mine and I. ¬†The dresses fit fine in each store and the prices were reasonable (expensive, in fact, by Korean standards). ¬†They just weren’t what I envisioned for a night out on the town. ¬†I didn’t need to hear “big size-y” while in the fitting room. ¬†Hell – I didn’t need the side-eye when I walked into your boutique. ¬†You need to give your head a big ol’ shake and realize that H&M, Zara, and Forever21 (pictured above) have cornered a market in which you should easily have¬†jurisdiction…you’re just xenophobic.


That Girl Cartier