Vanity, thy name is Korea

In a nation of 45 million people who look remarkably very much a like, there has to be a few consequences, one of which is a complete obsession with appearances. I’d like to delve into this topic a bit more at a later date, but one of my absolute favorite beauty ramifications (for men) is the invention of “magic shoes”. It’s nothing more than a sole to insert inside a shoe- a sly method for a man to appear a couple of centimeters taller without walking around in platforms (which also exist here).

These magic shoes are being sold on the stairs of a subway exit. Their price ranges from 3,000-8,000 KRW, or $2.68- $7.16*, depending on the thickness of the sole.

I once asked my good friend Alex, a Korean I met through a language exchange club, if he wears magic shoes. I asked it more of a joke, thinking it was a fad for the middle aged men of Korea who can be a bit sensitive about their short statue when compared with the younger, taller generation of men raised on imported beef and dairy products. But after some prying, he fessed up to owning a pair or two– for interviews and first dates. Ironically enough, he had a first date on the same day I took this photo and later saw him for our language exchange. As we discussed his new potential love over coffee, I asked him if he was wearing his magic shoes. Indeed he was. Unfortunately for Alex, the girl chose to eat at a traditional restaurant, thus requiring him to remove his shoes and reveal his true height. No word yet on the second date.

*As a side note, it’s been a good month for the Won-Dollar ratio, which currently hovers at 1000KRW: $0.90. Thanks, America.

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March 5, 2011. Tags: , , , . culture, fashion, korea.

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