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Latest hairstyle trend keeps it business up front and party in the back

Aug 09,2017
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From left: Football star Kim Byung-ji is famous for his hairstyle, which is commonly referred to as the wolf cut; Baekhyun, member of idol group EXO, recently appeared with a modern version of the wolf cut; G-Dragon pulled off the unique style at a recent performance. [JOONGANG ILBO]
Nobody thought it would actually come back, but sure enough, the Kim Byung-ji haircut has made its return. The signature hairstyle of the former football star is slowly making its way back onto the heads of popular singers, rappers and actors alike.

Kim Byung-ji was one of the biggest football stars in Korea in the 1980s, known not only for his exceptional skills on the pitch, but also for his unique hairstyle that he’s been sporting for decades. With the sides of his hair trimmed short and longer hair hanging on the back like a tail, Kim’s haircut is widely referred to as the “wolf cut” because of its tough and wild look. The striking cut was, for a time, the signature look of a tough guy, namely the protagonist of the hit 1970s TV series “MacGyver.” In the West, the hairstyle is commonly referred to as a mullet.

Yet, the style that most people thought would stay a memory of the past is making a modern comeback, with some of the biggest stars showing off their own interpretations of the old school fad. Recently, Exo member Baekhyun appeared at the group’s album release press conference for their fourth album “The War,” with his hair dyed in different hues of red and the hair on the back of his head worn long, like a horse’s tail.

G-Dragon and Song Min-ho, rappers at YG Entertainment, have also been seen recently rocking the wolf cut style. In June, G-Dragon flaunted a softer wolf cut, with long bangs and even longer hair in the back of his head. G-Dragon wore hair extensions to complete his look that exaggerated the characteristics of a wolf cut, while at the same time giving his own twist to the old style.

Song Min-ho, on the other hand, went for a tougher look with his hair trimmed short all around, and the hair on the back of his head rigidly cut to look as if he’s got black strings stuck on his neck. Song had to cut his hair in that style after losing a game on the tvN show “New Journey to the West,” but managed to embrace the look rather than feeling humiliated by it. Lim Hyun-jae, member of the band Hyukoh, well known for his uncommon fashion sense, is known to match his wolf cut hair with retro clothing.

The wolf cut is said to have originated from Europe and the United States, where it is not uncommon for young men to take care of cutting their own hair. “When you do your own hair, you can take good care of the front and the sides because you can see them well, but you can’t do much about the back of your hair,” said Cho Young-jae, a celebrity hair stylist. “The wolf cut has this very natural origin, and you can frequently see the style in old pop stars’ music videos.”

The latest trend differs from the past, nevertheless. According to Lee Hee of Lee Hee Hair & Makeup, whereas the original wolf cut used to be medium-length hair in the front and on the sides, with longer hair in the back, nowadays the overall length has become shorter and neater than before.

Lee Hee advises those who feel up to the challenge to dye their hair if they wish to give the style a modern look. Stylists say that soft and colorful hair goes well with the wolf cut.

“If your hair’s dry and damaged because you’ve dyed it too much, this style actually works well for styling,” said Cho.

Yet, despite celebrities appearing on television with the wolfish look, people are still doubtful about the new fad. Online message boards show people calling the style “unfamiliar” and “weird,” but at the same time, asking questions like, “Is it really going to be the next thing?” and “Do I need to grow the hair on the back of my head?” Not many people may welcome the advent of the new hairstyle. But just as was the case for other trends, in which the newest fads trickled down from popular fashionistas to the greater public, it may just be a matter of time until the streets of Korea are filled with people keeping it business in the front and party in the back.


BY YOO JI-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]