Just around the corner of Arumpark is a small shoe repair shop filled with dozens of shoes. At this little shop, Huh Wan-hoi has been taking care of Ewha people’s shoes for 40 years.
His 40-year-long relationship with Ewha started when he embarked on a shoe repairing career at the front gate of Ewha in 1970. His remarkable capability of turning shabby, worn-out shoes into shiny new ones earned him the nick name, “MacGyver of Ewha” along with great popularity among Ewha students.
“I was even invited as a partner for the Couple Carnival of Ewha from a student. She was a regular customer of mine and one day she just asked me to be her partner for the carnival,” he said.
As his marvelous technique in repairing shoes spread through word of mouth, the school officially invited him into the campus in 1990.
“I still remember students welcoming me on my first day at Ewha campus. My small shop was always bustling with Ewha students holding their shoes. Some students used to drop by on their way to the library just to say hello.”
Since then, Ewha has been a huge part of his life and his affection for Ewha grew bigger and bigger.
“My life is all about Ewha. Sometimes even outside of campus, Ewha graduates recognize me and greet me with delight. It’s as if I became a part of their memories of Ewha and I feel so happy to see them recalling their college lives through me,” Huh said.
Ewha students also show boundless trust and admiration when stopping by his shop.
“He used to fix my mom’s shoes 20 years ago. I’m not in the least worried even when leaving designer labeled pumps,” said Shin Jae-eun (Sociology, 2). “Maybe another 20 years later my daughter will leave her shoes here just like me and my mom did. I wish he would stay here that long.”
Along with easy accessibility and his neat mending skills, the low price also attracts customers. The average repair fee is 30 percent lower than the other shoe repair shops. Even so, he doesn’t seem to complain about the low cost of his service.
“I can cover it by many customers. Even many graduates visit my store for repairs. But I just wish students would stop asking for a bargain. It’s cheap already,” he said.
For Huh, shoe repairing is an art and Ewha is a perfect canvas for his art.
“I believe women’s shoes are an art and restoring them is even harder than making new ones. I wish I could continue my art here as long as I can walk and breathe,” he said.