It’s inevitable that at one point or another in your life, you’re faced with the tedious misfortune of having worn out your favorite pair of shoes. Rather than buy another pair of shoes — no easy task for the big-footed like me — I prefer to salvage what I already own.
This happened months ago with my favorite pair of black pebble Stuart Weitzman heels. They were everything you wanted in a heel: beautiful, classic, and just interesting enough. Of course, a misstep in the streets of Itaewon gobbled them up. I had stepped in a sewer grate and the heel got wedged in. I managed to release the heel, but not without partial casualty.
Korea is not very heel-friendly. The sidewalks are very rugged and always seem to be under construction. I was spoiled by the American cities I grew up in where everything was flat and paved. So, it’s no surprise that scattered on every busy city street in Seoul, there are little cobbler shops that are the size of New York newsstands.
This morning, I finally managed to bring those same Stuart Weitzman heels to one of those little side-street huts near Yeoksam Station. The cobbler was seated inside with a big pot of steaming tea. I knocked on the door and showed him my heels, pointing out the damage in the sole, the toe tip, and the missing heel taps. I used a combination of Papago and body language to point out what I needed. He replied in English and Korean. It would cost 30,000 KRW using premium materials. I accepted, and he said it would take about two hours.
When I recounted the experience to my mom, the first thing my mom asked was, “How much did you pay?” She said that I overpaid.
“It’s fine, mom,” I said. “I’d rather overpay at a nicer shoe shop. It would still be more expensive if I had them done in Boston.”
She agreed. She was always worried that I would get swindled because of my being American. Even so, the price wasn’t astronomical, and I was willing to pay more for a better job to be done on my lux heels. Besides, the area was in Gangnam which isn’t really known for its affordable living.
Long story short, if you need to get your shoes repaired in Seoul, there are many little shops sprinkled along the streets that will do a quick and inexpensive job. There are limits to their repairs, but if you’re looking to repair the soles or taps, they’re easy enough to do.
The Little Shoe Repair Shop in Yeoksam
The shoe repair shop that I went to is located at 804 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Naver Map.)