Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Buying Glasses in Korea

So, I bought new glasses this weekend. Actually, I bought two new pair of glasses, bringing the total number of glasses I've bought in Korea to SIX!

I started wearing glasses junior year of high school (fall 2001) and prior to arriving in Korea in the fall of 2008, I had only owned two pairs of glasses because well, glasses are bloody expensive in the States. My eyesight isn't particularly bad and I never bought designer frames, but I'm still looking at upwards of $250 for a pair of glasses and a new pair seemed like a waste of money since I had a perfectly good pair of glasses, even if I had been wearing them for five years.

Then I moved to Korea and one night after dinner, Tina and I wandered into one of the several optical stores in our neighborhood and inquired as to how much a new pair of glasses would cost. We were told to pick a set of frames and, on a whim, I grabbed a pair of purple frames with kelly green ear pieces. The store clerk examined my preexisting glasses briefly and told me the total cost for frames and lenses would be ₩20,000 or, at the current exchange rate, about $18. Also, it will only take twenty minutes and we'd love to ply you with juice or ice cream while you wait. My eyes got very wide and well, it's a miracle that I ONLY bought three pairs of glasses that night. (To be fair, I had happened upon the sale rack and have yet to find classes quite *that* cheap again, but I've also yet to pay more than $40 for a pair. Also, I did buy the green and purple glasses. They're now referred to as the toilet glasses, after Sarah flipped them off the bathroom counter and into the toilet when she was visiting last summer. Luckily I have zero standards and am bothered none at all at the thought of wearing toilet glasses.)

Guys, I think I might have a problem. I JUST bought two new pairs of glasses and before I had even left the store, I was telling Audrey how I was planning on buying at least another three pairs of glasses before I leave Korea. And then today, I realized I could match my new glasses with my knee socks. So I did.

To buy glasses: walk any any optical store (they're on every corner, I can see three from my apartment), pick out the frames you want and give them to the attendant. If you're happy with the prescriptions in your existing glasses, also give those to the attendant. They'll take your existing prescription from your current glasses and duplicate it for your new lenses. The whole process shouldn't take more than half an hour, and I've done the entire exchange in my terrible Korean. If you don't have glasses, you can get a free eye exam. It only takes five or ten minutes and there are numbers on the eye charts, so no Hangul knowledge is required. A caveat: I buy cheep frames and have relatively good eyes. If you buy designer frames or have bad eyesight, glasses will be more expensive, although not nearly as expensive as in America.

Useful words:
안경 (an-gyeong) = glasses
색안경 (saek an-gyeong) = sun glasses

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