Shopping! Sort of

Clothes shopping in South Korea is very different than clothes shopping in the U.S. (at least at Sinjang Mall).  You walk into a little shop and as soon as you do the owner/manager (usually a tiny, middle aged woman watching Korean soap operas) stands up from behind her counter and starts to shuffle shoe displays around and move clothes from one rack to another.  She will also probably start speaking to you in Korean.  Then she hovers.  The hovering made me really nervous at first because I felt like I had to buy things (and maybe once you walk into one of those shops they expect you to buy something…I’m not sure what the etiquette is yet).  It’s difficult to tell which stores are for young people and which are for older people as well.  I’m pretty sure I walked into several stores meant for older women, hence the managers saying “Hello” (except here ‘hello’ sounds more like ‘anyanghaseyo’) and sitting back down instead of hovering.  After walking around for almost an hour and seeing several really nice pairs of shoes that cost about $100 (the item’s prices are difficult for me to tell from looking at them through shop windows), I finally walked into a shop and found a really pretty white skirt.  For $20 (or about 20,000 won)! In a medium! Yes, perfect!  Wrong.  Medium in Korea is extra small in the U.S.  I found this out after I went into a “dressing room”, which is really a tiny storage room in the back that has a wooden pallet for you to stand on instead of the cement floor.  Sometimes it’s not even a storage room; at one shop I stood behind the counter and pulled a curtain (at least I got to watch a bit of the Korean soap opera the owner had on).  After trying on the “medium” skirt I had to try to explain to the manager that the skirt was “too small” and “Korean women are very small”.  After I had given up hope and many of the shops were closing down for the evening, I walked into one that two younger girls were working at.  They spoke English fairly well and together we finally found a skirt that fit!  In the words of one of the girls, “Look this one’s stretchy, has no size!”  So, this is what I’ve come to, elastic skirts with no size.

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