Buying Glasses in Korea

Category : Surviving in Korea
Nov 26, 2014

In Korea, glasses are more than just a functional accessory - they’re a fashion statement, popular among the young and trendy college crowds. In fact, you might even notice that some people’s glasses don’t even have lenses; they’re purely for fashion! Since glasses are so popular, you can find shops selling them on nearly every street. The best part? They are super cheap, and the process of purchasing them (like many things in Korea) is unbelievably efficient. On top of all that, opticians in Korea are not allowed to practice unless they’re licensed, which means your new cheap frames will come with top quality, well-fit lenses.




Ultimately, prices for a new pair of glasses will vary based on the brand and retailer. These are some typical prices to expect when purchasing a new pair:


Type of Frames

Price Range

Cheap glasses

Up to 10,000KRW

Average glasses

10,000KRW to 50,000KRW

High-quality glasses

50,000KRW to 150,000KRW

Imported/designer glasses

100,000KRW to 500,000KRW

Custom frames

300,000KRW and up


Fittings, cleaning cloth, and glasses case



A nice feature of many Korean glasses shops is that frames are sorted based on their price range. So, if you’re looking for something budget-conscious or straight from the designer, you can choose accordingly.



For the lenses, you will have to shell out as little as 10,000KRW. Realistically, you will probably want to pay between 30,000KRW and 80,000KRW for decent lenses, depending on the features you want. For example, if you want scratch-resistant or anti-reflective lenses, expect to pay closer to 50,000KRW and slightly more if you want both. If you just want the bare minimum, you can find lenses as cheap as 10,000KRW.





Your vision can be tested right in the eye glass shop. You don’t need to visit a doctor prior to get a prescription. Eye exams done by the opticians are free, while basic eye exams from a doctor will range between 5,000KRW and 15,000KRW with health insurance applied.


Where to Buy?

As the world’s third largest glasses exporter (behind only Italy and Japan), it’s no surprise that glasses are so easy to find in Korea. The best areas to buy glasses in Seoul are Myeongdong and Namdaemun. These two areas supply over 50% of glasses bought in Korea. If you can’t find frames you like here, then you won’t have much luck elsewhere! Glasses in Namdaemun cost about 30% less than those bought in other areas, and it only takes 30 to 40 minutes for glasses to be made after the eye exam is completed and frames are selected.


If you didn’t have much luck in Myeongdong or Namdaemun, try visiting a university area for cheap prices and trendy frames.


Purchasing Your Glasses

To purchase glasses in Korea, you can choose between two options:


  1. Option 1: If you already have a prescription with you, you can bring that in to the optical store and go from there. Sometimes it’s best to bring a prescription from home, especially if yours is complicated or specific. The language barrier can prevent you from communicating your exact vision problems and the optician may not be able to get your prescription correct.
  2. Option 2: If you don’t have a prescription already, you can take a test in-store. The majority of optical stores in Korea employ their own in-house optician, who will give you an eye exam lasting less than 10 minutes. It’s FREE!

All in all, buying glasses in Korea is a fantastic idea. If you know someone back home who’s not too picky about style, get them to send you their prescription. You can take it into a shop and have glasses made for them in no time. New glasses can make a great gift or souvenir, and you’re definitely not going to get the same prices back home for the level of quality of service and product in Korea.



Tags : Glasses. Shopping.

Gabrielle interned as a Content Creator for Work'n'Play during her exchange trip to Chung-Ang University in 2012-2013. She graduated from Vancouver Island University in May 2014 with her BA in Global Studies. She is now a Master's student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada. The things she misses most about her year in Korea are: going for makgeolli + jeon with friends, exploring Seoul's new and old hidden treasures and getting to practice Korean every day. You can connect with her on Twitter at @MsGabrielle or email her at