[HOT ITEM]All-night salons: For overworked, a late makeover

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[HOT ITEM]All-night salons: For overworked, a late makeover

Twenty-four hours are just not enough for Kim Yun-hee. She works full-time as a consultant for a multinational company, where full-time means overtime if you want to get anywhere. She also attends daily Japanese classes and goes to the gym as much as she can. And she has a boyfriend she has to take care of.

So when can Ms. Kim, 26, pamper herself? "I have to admit that I get lazy about that," she said. "I catch myself reading in fashion magazines how to get makeup on in three minutes."

Until recently, she had to break away from her busy schedule if she needed to go to the beauty shop. Seoul's salons were always closed by 9 p.m. It was a set rule, or at least an unspoken one, that stylists closed their doors by then, Kim Jae-yong, a hair designer at Yuseung Hair Club near Kyung Hee University in northeastern Seoul, told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition. "In the past, the association of hair designers even had a regulation that not one single shop could be open on Sundays," he said. "But things have changed for the better."

Since early this year, some beauty salons in certain areas of Seoul have begun staying open after-hours a blessing for people like Ms. Kim. Some are open virtually 24 hours a day. The centers of the change are Sinchon in northwestern Seoul, Dongdaemun in northeastern Seoul and Apgujeong-dong in southern Seoul.

One of the shops that has gone all-night is Beaute Marshall, which is near Ewha Womans University in Sinchon. Customers who make a reservation at the shop for a red-eye styling session, like Ms. Kim has, can get their hair done any time of night, with a free manicure thrown in. "We extended our hours to meet the changing lifestyles of our customers, more and more of whom are becoming night people," said the owner of the shop, Yoon Seon-young.

Among a cluster of some 70 beauty salons near Ewha, about 10 have begun staying open all night. According to the shops, office workers, mostly men, make up most of the night owl clientele. And the strategy is paying off. "Nowadays, 30 percent of our income comes from the work we do after 8 p.m.," said Ms. Yoon, adding that many of her customers come in around midnight.

In general, the prices for late-night services are the same as regular prices. Of Korea's estimated 80,000 beauty salons, about 5 percent are keeping late hours, according to a local association of hair designers.

But can a late-bird customer get any sleep? "I'll get that in the subway tomorrow when I commute to work," says Ms. Kim, as she lay back with eyes half closed getting a perm. "To be beautiful, this is the price that I have to pay."

by Chun Su-jin

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