Tuesday, April 26, 2011

4.26.11 Goth in Jeonju

If you're someone who's used to participating in a vibrant goth scene of clubs, concerts, and alternative clothing stores, the lack of visible gothic culture in Jeonju might be off-putting. But if you come from a barren wasteland of jeans and cowboy boots like myself, Jeonju is a great place to goth it up.


I occasionally carried a lace parasol in the States (I hate sunscreen), and brought it with me to Korea. Turns out I could have saved my time, because every little accessory store here stocks them in the dozens, in every shade of the rainbow. And I don't even have to feel ridiculously pretentious when I carry mine, because every sunny day I see at least three or four proudly upheld parasols on my way to work. Granted, the parasol-carrying seems mostly to be done by middle-aged women, so I'm still not exactly fitting in. Same issue with the skirts...


In general, Koreans dress much more nicely than Americans. Since my wardrobe is on the formal side, this means I rarely feel overdressed.

Skirts are de rigeur for Korean women (skinny jeans are the other option). As a result, in every department store, boutique, and roadside stand there are a plethora of gorgeously lacy, frilly, tulle-y skirts. I can't walk down a street without spotting another skirt that I would have pulled teeth to obtain when in the States. Though I'm short on money and space I already caved and bought one, a lovely knee-length, gray, tulle skirt. It only set me back 5,600 won, or about five dollars, so I don't feel too guilty.

The only difficulty is that while knee-length skirts are available on the rack, they are far from common on the street. The skirts of schoolgirl uniforms are shorter than mine, and my co-workers regularly wear skirts of a length considered only appropriate for clubbing in the U.S. I'm actually beginning to feel like a frumpy old lady in my prim knee-length skirts. And to think that I was worried that they were too short for teaching...


Makeup, in terms of eyeliner and lipstick, is applied pretty lightly here in Jeonju. Foundation, however, is another matter. There is no fake-bake in Korea - in fact, our friend Kate laughed pretty hard when we described it to her. Pale, perfect skin is everything, and to this end there are a myriad of excellent products available. I'm very fond of Skin Food, whose Black Sugar Scrub has smoothed and softened my skin quite a bit in the week that I've been using it.

If you don't have perfect skin, however, Korea is still your friend. The standards here for how much foundation is acceptable are quite different than in the States. In the U.S., I tried very hard to make it look as though I were wearing no makeup at all. Here, a certain level of visibility seems to be expected. I certainly see many more girls whose foundation is applied very heavily than I ever did back home. As a result, I'm applying my makeup with a freer hand, resulting in a paler complexion than before.


The one thing that's really lacking in Jeonju is gothy housewares. Fortunately, Linus and I brought some things to make our apartment feel more homey. One purple tapestry, two black metal suncatchers, and some creepy stuffed animals go a long way towards giving our compartment a cheerfully dark air. We did, however, spot some amazing black clocks downtown, so soon our apartment will have a touch of made-in-Korea gothy goodness.


  1. Ah, you are making Korea sound like heaven!! Just the fact that they dress nicer (and the lack of fake tans!) is so appealing. I am guessing they have plenty of smaller sizes available for all of those lovely tulle skirts, too...

    Sophistique Noir - Dark, Elegant Fashion

  2. I've been browsing YesStyle.com's Skinfood section ever since I read this. Oh my GOD!!!!!

  3. All this sounds really charming. I´ve never thought of Corea as an attractive place to go, but It seems I was completely wrong.
    I have a sister who is living in Tokyo and she always spends her holidays in Corea, so she told me about the magnificence of the place but I did not take her opinion as a serious one as long as she is an exotic and adventuress person (silly me). Maybe I should rethink the whole subject.

    Your site seems pretty nice and interesting so, with your permission, I´ll be following you.

    Regards from Spain.



  4. You should still wear sunscreen.

  5. At first I didn't realize it was Becky writing this post and not Linus, and I was like "Parasols and skirts? ...the fuck?" Heh.

    But gothy Asian girls? Yes please! I ran across a picture of Sayumi Michishige in goth loli and pretty much had a spontaneous orgasm on the spot. And of course Yossie and Rika as Hangry & Angry make me flaily with happiness.

  6. Raksha - you are not the only one to think it was me writing this... My brother-in-law and a couple Facebook friends all thought it was me. Perhaps I wore kilts a bit too much...

    There is a subtle goth loli undercurrent here, but it's definitely no Harajuku. None of the women/girls we've talked to have even heard the word "Goth" even though some of them dress it pretty well. :)

  7. That sounds pretty amazing. It seems impossible to find good looking skirts here in the states.


  8. Sorry for the delay in responding!

    Mayren - I think so, too. I really like it here.

    VictorianKitty - Yes, Korea is the Land of Tiny People. You would have no problems finding appropriately sized clothes here. :)

    TheFly - I KNOW! Did you see the Beer Bubble Foaming Cleanser? I'm going to have to buy that just for the name.

    Violette B. - You're certainly welcome here! And in Korea, too, if you get the opportunity. :)

    Matthew - But it makes me break out...:(

    Raksha - I love Hangry and Angry in particular. Like Linus said, we haven't seen any Korean girls dressed as goths. The closest they seem to get is heavy eyeliner and black nail polish. But then again, we're living in a "small" (by Korean standards) city. It might be different in Seoul.

    Zellain - I had that problem in the U.S., too. Here, the issue is NOT spending my money on all the skirts that I find. Thanks for commenting - I love your blog!

  9. I have cited this blog as an example of the role that personal narrative plays in ESL teaching discourse. Hope you're both cool with that.


  10. I loved the story about Korean children. After living in Turkey for 4 years I could speak to the children pretty well in Turkish. My wife and I were walking around a village on the coast of the Black Sea one day and passed a grade school during recess. Some of the children came up to us and we asked them how old they were and what their names were in Turkish. They thought this was very funny for an American to be talking to them in Turkish. We had a video camera with us so we took some pictures of them and played them back so they could see them. This almost started a small riot and one of their teachers came over to see what was going on. We introduced ourselves and had a fun time with all of them. We envy your experiences in Korea. It is so much fun living in a country other than America. Love, Link and Holly