Prices for food and clothing and really...most goods in Korea are very comparable to prices in the U.S. HOWEVER, there are a few services that Korea offers at a price that feels like highway robbery compared to prices at home.
One such service is going to the hair salon. My guy friends are unimpressed when I tell them that I pay a mere $10 for a good hair cut and $15 for a more expensive one. Men, I’m sorry, but most of you will probably never understand the lengths women go to (or the price we’re willing to pay) for the upkeep of those long/short/curled/spiked/straightened/dyed locks of ours. I’m sure that all of my fellow women who have paid $30+ on a haircut, hear me when I say, I ONLY paid $15 on a haircut and style! It’s also a lot cheaper to dye, chemically straightening, or curl your hair as well.
Prescriptions, going to the doctor, and going to the dentist are out of this world, cheap. Of course, the price depends on what you get done. From my understanding, a visit to the doctor and a prescription should be no more than $10. A friend said he paid $20 for a filling that included the anesthetic-everything. Can you imagine? It’s still really hard for me to fathom. I’ve been so trained to pay $100+ for the equivalent services in the U.S. that I feel a streak of guilt when I hand over my 10,000 won bill (about 10 USD).
Laser hair removal joins the "incredibly- less expensive-services-that I almost feel guilty paying so little for” list. I’m having some work done in this area. Underarm laser hair removal cost me something like $50 for all 5 treatments and the bikini area cost me $270 for the same number of times. To give you a point of reference, bikini laser hair removal in the States costs anywhere from $350 to $500 **per** treatment. Foreigners joke that if you’re going to have any work done, get it done in Korea.
Today was my first bikini treatment. I was a little embarrassed when I saw the male doctor enter the room as I was lying on the table with a small medical skirt around my waist. “Oh, grEAt.” Thankfully, he came in to explain the procedure for the next 5 months and was out the door again. Doctors, having more education, tend to speak the most English.
A female technician came in to apply a cold gel and zap the area I wanted treated. I was still a little mortified and squeezed my eyes closed during the 5 whole minutes it took. ( A good friend of mine said that when her college roommate was changing in the same room she used to tell her to look away unless she wanted to see all her “goodness.”) Let’s be honest, there was no modesty in that room. My “goodness” was very much exposed.
I have to say that in all of my mortification, the whole thing was really no big deal. I was in and out and there was little to no pain. Occasionally, I felt a prick from the laser, but it was very mild.
Worth it? I think so.