To use a cliche, I am as blind as a bat. Since the age of five, I have needed glasses. As I become older, my eyes are becoming progressively worse. With distant memories of being called four eyes, I started wearing contact lenses, self-conscious of wearing glasses and worried that they ruined outfits. Vain, maybe, I know. My glasses would only see daylight for exams and flights. That is until I came to Korea.
Living in Korea has changed my opinion of specs. At home, glasses are inherently geeky uncool. They incite visions of spotty teenagers who excel in science class. In Korea, they are stylish and fashionable. They are so fashionable that even if you have 20/20 vision, you can still buy fake ones from the many market stalls in Myeong dong. In the UK, thick black framed specs are generally only worn by cool indie kids. In Korea, they are the norm.
So, I decided to embrace my blindness and invest in a pair of stylish specs from an eyewear store called Alo. Walking into Alo eyewear in Myeong dong is an extremely different experience from popping into your local Specsavers. The opticians here are glossy, 'eyewear stores' where the assistants are young twenty somethings wearing skinny jeans, checked shirts and geeky specs, obviously. Techno blasts on the stereo whilst Koreans stumble and push in front of mirrors, checking their reflection. The girl, who checked my eyes, was a lovely, young Korean tomboy. Speaking perfect English, she advised and guided me through the array of multi coloured frames. I settled on a pair of black, slightly thick frames, similar to the ones below.
In Alo, frames are priced between 30,000 to 120,000 won. Lenses are priced around 60,000 for a pair. The service in Alo was efficient and friendly. My glasses were ready an hour after my eyetest. So fast! If you ever come to Korea, I would advise you to buy glasses here. Even if your eyesight is perfect, treat yourself to a fake pair. According to Koreans, they are very stylish after all.