The One Where I Get A Kitsch Kawaii Manicure In Korea
Written by Jaillan Yehia
I’m in Seoul for just 36 short hours and with an 11 hour overnight flight direct from London and a 9 hour time difference, I know I’m going to be pretty jet lagged the entire time.
There’s no way I can even begin to skim the surface of Asia’s 24 hour mega-city in such a brief trip so I decide to let myself off the sightseeing hook a little, give my day in Seoul a focus, and feel pampered all in one fail swoop by getting a kawaii manicure, Korean style...
I find an unlikely-looking spot above an arcade in Central Seoul and settle in for a relaxing hour or so while Young Shim Choi files, preps and polishes my nails. When it comes to the design (if you don’t have a guide or translator using the word ‘design’ seems to get the message across that you want nail art rather than a standard mani) it’s a tough decision which theme to go for.
I’m torn between a tropical fruit-themed colourful manicured, complete with everything from mini kiwi, watermelon, apple and strawberry or a slightly classier nude base with white snowflakes on every finger apart from the index finger which is decorated with a blingy golden flake as sported by Young herself.
There’s also Christmas designs complete with santas and snowmen but given that the gel lasts 3 weeks the idea of still looking down at Xmas fingers in mid-January doesn’t appeal.
I plump for for the sunnier island-style nail cocktail which suits The Philippines beach break I’m heading for but seeing how torn I am Young offers to pop one snowflake on as a nod to the season anyway, on the house.
I watch my new nails take shape to the unique soundtrack of Korean schoolkids screeching in the karaoke booths just outside the nail parlour, all four booths were already busy by 2pm and Young explains to me that they were letting off steam after the stressful exam season.
Meanwhile I’ve got free reign of the TV remote and am switchinged between CSI, The Da Vinci Code and some sort of Korean Robin Hoodesque TV mini series in which a lady in traditional Hanbok dress gets dumped by her sword-wielding boyfriend. Like so many of the Korean women I’ve seen today she is so delicately beautiful I can’t imagine how any man could leave her.
Finally all the clipper, brush, file and tweezer work is complete and I take my hands out of the UV lamp for the final time to admire Young’s handiwork. She tells me that my light skin tone really suits the colour scheme and I’m reminded again how much this nation prizes fair skin, feeling guilty that I’m off to ruin it all with three weeks of solid sunbathing.
I bid Young Sim Choi a fond farewell delighted with my new fruity fingernails and promise that if I transit back through Seoul on the way home I’ll be back to switch them for the wintry design to compliment the British weather.
SavoirThere had a Kawaii manicure in Korea as part of her bespoke day tour of the city arranged by Cox and Kings
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