Getting a team that gels

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Getting a team that gels

We don’t know much about soccer, but we can tell you why the national team got skunked by Uruguay on Sunday ― its sudden paucity of freaky hairstyles.
Think about it. The squad has only one victory in four tries this year, that 1-0 win over Japan. The difference then was that the team’s most exciting player, Lee Chun-soo, had Beckhamed up his hairdo. His coif looked like a headdress looted from the Salvador Dali museum. But in Sunday’s loss, Lee came out all clean-cut, and the team struggled.
And don’t forget who scored the goal against Japan: the team’s best and then longest-tressed player, Ahn Jung-hwan. Last week, though, Ahn suddenly got that hair lopped off; that’s when we knew the Uruguay match was lost. Sans the hair, Ahn was hard to spot and feed assists to.
Why did Ahn have to get a haircut? She looked a lot better with the long hair and the makeup, like in those posters of her outside beauty salons.
But enough about sports ― we’d better start talking about Itaewon, or the JoongAng Daily’s sports guy, Brian Lee, might red card us for infringing on his turf.
We still want to talk about hair, though. Like anywhere in Seoul, Itaewon has plenty of beauty salons. But speaking from experience (see photo), we’ve yet to find a good one.
A fairly new and foreigner-staffed place, Ebony, may be the solution. Pass by Ebony, near the top of the ethnicity-rich alley back of Burger King, and peer in. You’ll see dreads and cornrows, and assume you have to speak Swahili to get in.
But go ahead. The shop’s staff can communicate in any language and do any kind of cut. The manager, a Cameroonian named Chris Caspa, speaks flawless English. The anchor stylist is a local, Jeong Hyun-ju; she handles the basic and Euro cuts. The stars are the imported stylists, Patricia Kotia from Ivory Coast and Salome Ghai from Cameroon.
Ms. Kotia is in Korea because her husband, a Gabonese diplomat, is stationed here. Ms. Ghai, recruited from Cameroon by Mr. Caspa, arrived days ago on perhaps the first working visa immigration ever granted ta hair stylist. The two specialize in the latest Afro-styles, such as microbraids, hair-relaxing and instadreads.
Surprisingly, most of the shop’s customers are Koreans. They come for the painstaking braiding jobs Ms. Kotia and Ms. Ghai do in tandem, which, depending on hair length, can take up to four hours. Such a project on long hair costs about 350,000 won ($290), far less than what you’d pay for the same job in Apgujeong, Mr. Caspa says.
If it’s a simple cut you’re looking for, though, you can get in and out for as little as 7,000 won.
Back to the national team and its hairstyle predicament, since it plays Argentina tomorrow. We don’t know who’s responsible for the snippy injustice dealt to Ahn, but we demand that the Ministry of Gender Equality redress it immediately. For the Argentina game the ministry should provide the team with wigs, wax, watercolors, weed whackers, whatever. Or Coach Coelho should resurrect that goalkeeper with the bleached mullet, Kim Byung-ji, and make him the striker. At least until Ahn, the go-to gal, grows that hair back.

by Mike Ferrin
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