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[Hey, that’s me] Scissors and locks

By night owl

I am not a forgotten rock star with a bad hairstyle. I am not a man in his 40s hoping to re-capture his youth when he was a popular star and gave it all up to chase a woman. I don’t play the guitar or have much interest in music. I actually found the character in Laurel Tree Tailors really annoying and would groan every time he would sing his song. So why did I connect with Sung Tae-pyung and say to myself “Hey, thats me!”?

It was all because of a haircut.

It’s a rite of passage for a character in dramaland to get a haircut when there is a life change. Unlike most new hair styles, which usually happen off-screen, we got to see Tae-pyung walk into a salon to get his hair cut. It was a pivotal moment in his arc. He had fallen in love and now had to prove to his girlfriend’s family that he could be financially responsible. He wrangled a gig to sing trot music to ajummas and ajusshis, but the manager of the bar told him to get a haircut so that he would look more the part. Reluctantly, Tae-pyung sat down in the salon chair.

As his future stepdaughter (a budding hair stylist) started snipping away the locks he’d had since his debut, he was aware that he was letting go of his former glory years. The success and failure, his love for rock music and his hopes for a comeback. He had to look to the future, and while the genre of music may not be glamorous, trot could pay the bills with a regular gigs and paychecks. So it was time to let go of those locks. He teared up as his hair was cut but held it in. It was a bittersweet moment and it made me cry.

For well over a year, I had debated chopping off my hair. The weight of my thick, wavy-curly hair was adding to the pain during migraines. Yet I hesitated cutting off the locks that had taken me a few years to grow.

The salon I would visit was also known for its bridal make-up. So during my regular visits, I would flip through the book where they had pictures of traditional brides with different hairstyles and makeup. All those glamorous traditional styles required a good length of hair and a zillion accessories. The salon regularly updated this book and so it was fun to browse. During wedding seasons, I would peek at what the stylist did on the bride of the day as I waited for my appointment or got a pedicure.

I was going on traditional blind dates and was hoping that something might click. The romantic part of me wanted one of those glamorous styles at my own wedding, whenever that was. It feels silly to admit it, but I did. However, it seemed romance was not on the cards for me and a haircut felt like I was admitting that I had failed and had no romantic hope. It was crushing.

It took many months, but I finally came to peace that I was okay with being single. I was not averse to romance or a wedding but whenever it happened, it would be fine if I didn’t have one of those hairstyles like in the book. So as a new year dawned, I made my resolution to get a haircut.

My usual salon was actually closed that day and so I walked into another before I lost my nerve. The stylist was taken aback when I asked her to chop so much. Like with Tae-pyung, she asked if I was sure; I was. However, as she chopped, there were a few moments when I got emotional as I could feel myself letting go of old dreams and embracing the new unknown.

Like Tae-pyung, a few tears escaped but I largely held it in. I chopped off a little over 16 inches in one go that day. With curls framing my face just below my ear, my current hairstyle (a graduated bob) suits my face more. People see it as a reflection of my style and character and are amused to discover it was actually a health choice.

While I had absolutely nothing in common with the character of Tae-pyung, the haircut scene reminded me of the mixed emotions I had experienced during my own hair chop some months earlier. It made me watch his arc closely and feel the joy when he went on to become successful in his new career as a trot singer. It made me cheer for him as he also found his personal happiness with his wife and stepdaughter.

Sometimes, all it takes for a character to go from annoying to interesting is a small moment when you can say “Hey, that’s me!”

 
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This was so cute! Hope you love your short hair a lot.

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Thanks! and yea, I love my short hair now. :)

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Oh, that's interesting write up, hair are such a interesting topic, especially for women. I thought I wasn't that attached to the idea that much until I start losing hair due to stress, this connection between hair and womanhood and even attractiveness in general is strong.

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I know! we don't think much about hair but when it comes to style, getting it cut or losing hair, somehow, we discover there's emotions we never knew attached to hair.

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Almost no one watched Wolgyesu, so this made me so happy! Choi Won-young is such a gem.

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Yea I have seen him in quite a few dramas and he is one of those actors that can always be depended on to make even the most boring/irritating side character shine a little.

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That was such a good writeup. I liked that you may not connect with the entire character but one aspect of it that was important to its growth. As a person who loves short hair and grows her hair for a year to get them cut super cute short, I haven't valued long hair that much. But last time when the hair stylist trimmed my hair more than I had expected it was hard to see the long locks go. I also felt that all of them were put to waste. It would be so nice if I could know of a hair donation organization that works worldwide.

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Thank you! I didn't know you could donate hair when I got my hair cut. About a month later, I discovered through a friend that there was a local charity collecting hair to make wigs for patients. I wish I had known about it earlier especially since I cut such a large length. Ask around, maybe there's something like that in your area.

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Locks of Love is a hair donation group that benefits children who have lost their hair.

https://locksoflove.org/

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That was a nice article, @nnnnnn Night Owl.

By some coincidence I just went out to trim off the ends of my hair. I used to keep my hair curled and coloured, which made me look younger and brighter ... but I had to make the tough decision over 2 years ago, to let go and look older than my age, also for health reasons. My skin couldn't take the lotions and gels that went into the curls and colour. In the end, straighter and natural was best (and less expensive in time and money!).

But to make that transition was painful, so I know what you mean.
It was a giving up of more than just the hair stuff, but the image, or the control over how one could project that image. The plus point in looking older now is that less is expected of me LOL.

I hope you embrace your look which after all suits you better and hopefully reduces your migraine woes. :-)

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Thank you! Health wise, it was absolutely the best choice for me and I enjoy the style now that I rush to chop it off even if it grows out a little. hahahah..
But yea, I am not sure why a hair cut signals like such a huge transition and somehow it brings all sorts of feels. It actually felt silly on some level writing about hair of all things, kekeke... I wasn't sure if people would be able to relate to that feeling of why a haircut can be emotional. So thanks, it is nice to know that there are others who can relate. :)

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Great essay! Kdramas were the first place I was introduced to changing hairstyles signaling growth or change in a character. Also, clues you in to who a character may be. (It blew my mind when Yook Sung-Jae’s character in Goblin was the god toying with the Goblin’s life, but all you had to do was look at his hair style—hair covering his forehead meant he was the Goblin’s nephew, side-swept bangs away from his forehead meant he was acting as the butterfly god! 🤯) Such a seemingly insignificant thing as a hair style conveying such a significant change in a character. A former military friend of mine recently cut about 16 inches of her hair too which reminded me of who she was when when we were in the military together—her pixie cut is playful but confident and makes her look totally manicured and in control. When you see her life, you see how important this cut is. You see, after being married for over 15 years with 4 children, the youngest being 3 year old twins, she left her husband. She’s one of the strongest and most independent women I know, and freakishly smart, and she has always held her family together. But this aged her. You could see in her eyes how worn down she was, working two jobs now to support her family and raising 4 children basically on her own—her ex-husband skipped the state after the divorce and rarely sees the kids. She also grew out her hair. To me she was unrecognizable from the Major I knew. She still kept those kids going and it’s been 5 years. When I saw her new short do this week it looked like a weight had been lifted from her face. She looks 20 years younger. And she feels at least 10 years younger. And she’s found love again. I know she’ll be okay, like really okay, seeing her like that. And your essay shows me that you will be too. Good luck in all your life! Thank you for sharing your struggles that resonate so much with so many people!

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Awww, thank you! I honestly second guessed myself after sending it in because the theme sounded like heavy duty introspection and the first thought that came to me was haircut! It felt silly on some level and very left field.

So it is really lovely to read your response and yes, a haircut can signify letting go of baggage in your head as well as heart. It certainly felt like that to me. Good luck in your life too and as well for your friend. :)

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I'm going to have to check this one out, this sounds like a good storyline.
I just cut my hair back into a chin length bob after growing it for two years. This time it was fine, but the first time I did it was like letting go of a security blanket. I've been wearing it mostly chin length for over a decade now, but as a shy introvert I used to use the length as a type of shield, lol. One it was a big step to let go of.

I'm glad it helped with your headaches and that you love the way it looks. Thank you for sharing your journey.

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Thanks! :)
Just to warn you, Laurel Tree Tailors is a weekend drama and so about 50+ eps. I found the main couple a real snoozefest but the lovely bit about weekend drama is that there are many couples and characters and so one can always fast forward arcs that you don't have much interest in. Some of the other characters in the drama were a real laugh and had me giggling.

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I actually watched that drama because of Choi Woi Young and Ahchoo Couple parts that look more interesting than the main leads.

~

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Wow, yes. As a fellow shy introvert, I totally relate to using long hair as a shield. That is a good way to describe it.

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Omo I came across your article while looking for drama recaps - Oh gosh u are so brave - u 'chopped off' 16 inches of your hair ?? haha I had this recent thought (juz last week) too of cutting my hair shorter but but erhmm... I just cant do it - I feel sexier with long wavy hair and plus my usual hairstylist would always dissuade me to do so😬😬 . Ok ok btw ... I actually this rock star character u mentioned hahaa - I had actually started watching this drama after seeing his scenes.

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Kekeke.. The same day at the salon, this girl had a meltdown that a stylist cut off one inch when she had only requested a trim for half inch. My stylist was giggling and was like "you are coolly sitting here chopping off 16 inches and she is crying for half an inch. LOL" And yea, the stylist who chopped my hair actually was afraid initially and kept asking "are you sure? maybe I will just cut till shoulder?"
Have fun with the drama -- it is nice time pass and he is a fun character once you get past that awful song he keeps singing, LOL

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Dear NightOwl, what a touching story.
Also, it is the 1st time I've heard of someone cutting their hair to help against migraines. I hope it proved effective.
Thank you for sharing!

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Thanks. I read a post of a guy in a migraine forum where he mentioned that he went bald and that reduced migraines. As a woman, a short hair do felt like an option LOL rather than bald; but it was still emotionally hard to chop off those locks. But it definitely helped and so I don't want to grow it out anymore.

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night owl, what a great essay! I remember my first kdrama/makeover in Kim Sam Soon, she was a new woman afterwards so I associate it with the character always getting a new lease on life. (but it is awfully funny how often we see it!)
I can really relate to your quandary, I had something similar with a cat. I wanted to have a cat but in my heart felt that getting one was throwing in the towel on ever finding a relationship. Like, "having a cat confirms that I'm an old spinster" thinking. The cat was sort of forced on me and I'm now 4 cats later and so relieved I didn't miss out on living with cats! 😸

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thanks. :) and yes, I know exactly what you mean by avoiding certain stuff because you are afraid of the spinster stereotype. Enjoy your cats!

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I can imagine you’re mixed emotions night owl! I have to tell you that whenever I see you, “night owl,” I think I’ve written what you wrote because I’m owl, and I always write about being a night owl And that is my biggest asset in watching all the drama I squeeze in in any given week. And now your name is what I am. Here we are both on dramabeans! I’ll bet no one else is confused, only me, so I’ll try to remember you’re night owl and even though I am one I’m just owl here 😂 🦉

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kekeke... From one owl to another, waving hello! :D

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👋 Waving to fellow owls!
I’m also a night owl @owl22

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Thanks for sharing your little story, night owl! I’ve had long hair my whole life and have been thinking about cutting it, but I haven’t quite gotten up the nerve yet. I definitely agree that hair can be a surprisingly emotional thing. We tend to wrap part of our identity up in it.

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Thank you, my fellow owl. kekeke... Yea, it is surprising how much hair forms a part of our identity and we are not aware of what it means to us till we think about changing it. Wishing you lots of luck whenever you decide to finally cut it. :)

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This was beautiful, loved it!

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thank you. :)

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I'm a simple person. I see Choi Won-young, I click :)

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kekeke... so it is not only me that likes ajusshis. :D

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Of course not :)) In fact, most of my Korean crushes are ajusshis. Oppas are overrated ㅋㅋㅋ

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bwahahaha... I agree! ㅋㅋㅋ

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Me too. 😁😁😁

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This was 💕💕 and 16 locks - Wow!

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thank you. :)
I didn't know it was 16 inches till the stylist told me. hahahah... sometimes ignorance is bliss! :D

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I got my first buzz cut last year, because I wanted something new and it had been on my bucket list for a while. I admit that my hair was already short before, so the impact was not as strong. However, I remember feeling terrified when that towel got placed around my neck, so I guess I can slightly relate. :)
I also worry about romantic relationships, because I sometimes feel like it does not make me look pretty.
Then I remember how relieved I always feel whenever my dad has shaved my head again, and that I can wash my hair at the sink and no longer need to comb, and I know I made the right decision ;)

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You are very brave to get a buzz cut. kekeke.. It feels like certain haircuts get associated with certain personalities and so I understand your worry about romantic relationships and maybe not looking conventionally pretty. Someone will see you for you and see that your hairstyle is just one part of you. Good luck. :)

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Thanks night owl for sharing this *Hugs*
Wish you all the best in life health and love wise

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awww, thank you for the wishes. :)

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