Natural Black Perception in South Korea

I am doing an experiment I thought of this past weekend. It came to me as I went over the experiences I have had in Korea since I have been here.

As you know I am Black female and what you may not know was that I went natural about a year ago, got a texturizer, 7 months ago, hated it and the went back natural after chopping my hair to two inches.

When I first arrived here I was natural and my hair is extremely curly (afro). When I ran out of hair products I got braids and have them in and out till this last weekend.

Now my hair is down to my neck straightened, but since it is almost winter time -- and I am lazy (I have very thick hair) -- I am not flat ironing it and wearing it in its natural state.


Curly Fro while using my long silk scarf as a headband.

Imagine the surprise of the other teachers and students when I walked in with my natural hair.

They love it. My students were pretty much in awe and the 6th graders especially like it. One of the teachers later said it suited me and she liked it.

My experiment is the treatment I get when I wear my hair natural or flat ironed or braided.

Well actually braided or fro because when it is flat ironed I am going to go get it braided and it is covered by my scarf.

I have found so far on Day ONE I get more smiles from older Koreans and have so far got very favorable responses.

The reason I started this experiment was because I realized one day when I was wearing my hair natural unaltered one guy, Cute Nerdy guy, shyly said "Hi." to me. I said Hi back and I peeked back and noticed he was still looking at me while he was walking the other why smiling. When I wear my hair in braids he doesn't even notice I am there.

Would you all be interested in my results of this experiment? It is an ongoing one since I will be here for awhile and I like to explore, so it just won't be in my little part of town.

Ankh, I am not sure how to label this. You said not to add any new tags. I will leave it up to you, I guess.


  1. Maybe tag as Discussion and Korea?

    I've got an afro so I'm very interested in this. Has anyone tried to touch your hair cause that would drive me nuts.

  2. I think this will be a very interesting experiment!

  3. I too think it would be a great experiment. I'd like to know how your natural hair is perceived in Korea. I've discussed this subject multiple times with some Chinese friends and I'd like to know if Koreans think differently.
    Can I point out how gorgeous you look on that picture?

  4. You use the icon that looks two pieces of paper with a zigzag cut in the middle.

    I've fixed everything this time, including tags.

    Also, remember to resize pictures. You can do it in the compose screen or the html screen.



  5. @Ankh
    Sorry. I will do better next time.

    Yes, but they always ask first (well the people I know anyways (students, teachers, nurse). People I don't know might touch as well, but they are usually little old ladies though. They may have asked but I don't understand Korean all that well yet.

    Thank you Sica.

    What did your Chinese friends have to say about it?

  6. @DN
    In China, people are curious about Black people's hair, no matter if it is straight/relaxed or natural. Interestingly, they don't put relaxed hair in the same category as natural straight hair. Even though it's straight, they still notice that relaxed hair look different.

    My Asian friends like natural hair better, to be honest. They're really curious about it. When I meet new people, they often ask me about it, if the curls are natural, and I get the "I had a perm once but it didn't look as cute as your hair" remark. Always makes me laugh. They're also fascinated by the softness and the shrinkage. I've never had a negative comment from Asian people.

    I do relate when you say that you're more noticed when you wear your hair out. I experimented with a Japanese friend and he stares at me (in a good way) way more when I wear my hair out. I feel like he even refrains from touching it. It's a powerful asset that we have!

  7. you can make your own products. There is a vid on youtube that shows you how you can make hair gel for twisting hair or something else. It's very renewable and good for people that travel. All you need is flaxseed and you use it over and over.

  8. @Chizzy D
    Thanks for the information.I have no problem gettin hair stuff now. I know where to go and where to order. At the time I had just got here and didn't know much. Plus, I am too lazy to make it.

  9. I await the outcome of your experiment.

    In Taiwan and China people always inquired about my hair and couldn't help but ask, "Is it real?" The Japanese don't seem to care one way or another. Even The Husband is apathetic towards it although I think he was dissappointed the tatami rats came out with straight hair (DNA - argh). I plait or braid and pin it to my head with a bobby pin. I have no interest in my hair.

  10. Most people I meet tend to react positively to my natural hair. I can talk all day about how I've constantly being called "cute" and "special" all because of my hair. I also don't have a problem with friends touching my hair so I let them get away with that once in a while. I remember being surprised that quite a few of my friend wanted to touch my hair but just didn't want to ask due to politeness.

    While in Japan, I was complimented on my braids even before I left the airport. I had a problem with my luggage and while sorting things out with the airport staff, I caught two women staring at my hair and one of them smile and said 'special dayo' while pointing at my braids.

    One of my closest friends in UK is Chinese and she was quite vocal about my hair. I remember her saying how she thought my hair was special and how it was much better that I did not straighten it. She always said this. Incidentally, the few people who have complimented my hair since I've been in Nigeria have been Korean ^^

  11. @ eccentricyoruba... " Incidentally, the few people who have complimented my hair since I've been in Nigeria have been Korean"

    Nigeria has some serious deep rooted issues with natural hair, but things are rapidly changing for the good. I know its fine in big cities like Lagos and Abuja, but smaller cities has ways to go.

  12. @Chizzy D,

    I don't think it's fine to have natural hair in both Lagos and Abuja to be honest. I still get negative comments almost every day and I totally agree that Nigerians have really deep issues with natural hair even though most wouldn't admit it.

  13. Well, hell, if Black people in Africa can't get their hair issues together, it's hopeless for everyone else. Thank the gods, I really don't care what my hair looks like as long as it's clean. My second sister whacked off her mid-back length tresses to barely half an inch and she has looked absolutely fabulous every day for the past six years. Her tales of liberation are inspiring. Every month, she happily goes for a trim. At first black women told her she was crazy. Now most in her area envy her freedom. Men also pay more attention to her now than they did way back when.


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