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[Opinion] Hairstyle

Posted May. 21, 2004 22:32,   


There is no other country that tries to show as much through hairstyles as Korea. We trim our hair to signify a new start and cut all our hair to show anger and disagreement. Haircutting has been a traditional act in protests and at electioneering places. Movie stars and directors cut their hair to object to the screen quota system and athletes cut it to express remorse for losing streaks and to promise a victory. Priests also do it to go back to the state of mind they had when they left their homes.

It is not only men who cut their hair. When women cut their hair short or perm it, it represents a change in their minds. Husbands who do not recognize the hairstyle changes of their wives cannot expect to be loved. The wife of the famous writer C kept asking him, “What would I look like if I cut my hair short?” As C did not answer, his wife came home one day with short hair. She again bugged him by asking, “It is strange, isn’t it?” It is the “female mind,” which even the sensitive writer did not recognize.

With the popularity of “Hyojadong Hairdresser,” a movie about the joys and sorrows of the president’s hairdresser from 1960 to 1970, the experiences of every president’s hairdresser are flooding in. Army-oriented presidents preferred a short and neat style, whereas civil-oriented presidents desired styles that expressed individuality. They could cut their hair, but could not shave their faces. Former president Chun Doo-whan, who had the least hair, is said to have been the most sensitive about his hairstyling. There is even a Presidential Hairdresser’s Club.

President Roh’s hairstyle changed after the abandonment of the impeachment effort. In his early days as a lawmaker, he had long hair. But he changed it to a disheveled style after his losses in the general election and the Busan mayoral election. Following official tradition, he had a center part in his hair when he acted as the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, then pulled his hair back after becoming the president to project a charismatic personality. But he quickly changed it back to a sporty style. I am curious what political meaning his new hairstyle has. I just hope he does not have to cut all of his hair.

Editorial writer Oh Myung-chul, oscar@donga.com