Negative Korean Beauty Ideas

Posted on July 26, 2010


Another week and, I’m thinking, the perfect time to add another entry into my “Korean Ideas of Beauty” series; hopefully you’ve read the last 2 entries in this series- “More Beauty Korean-isms” and “Korean Lines”? If not then feel free to click on those titles to read them.

Now, my last 2 entries have really looked at the quirky, funny and rather enjoyable side to modern Korean Culture’s idea of beauty right? Well, with this post, I hope to give you my opinions on what I consider are the negative sides to their desire and ideas of beauty. Before I do so, I would like to point out that this is no harsh put down, shun or even diss towards K-Culture -as I do consider my self to be a K-Culture loving type of person ^^- because regardless of cultures, all countries will always have some drawback to them. Also, my ideas of K-Culture, is ultimately flawed because I’ve only experienced it via the Internet, in films and in music, I’ve not yet immersed myself into the culture by visiting the country- Yet!

With K-Culture’s ideas of beauty, I find their biggest flaw is their desire to obtain “Beauty.”

Surgery O.K?

Wanting to have surgery to alter and beautify an aspect of yourself is nothing strange to most societies, but a disturbing trend in Korean Culture is the prevalence of surgery and how it’s  considered acceptable (with no second glance) for a person to have a little ‘tweak’ here or there.

The 3 main types of surgical procedures, that I’ve read and even seen online,which I consider popular and sometimes even ‘normal’ in Korean Culture are (in no particular order):

Double Eyelid Surgery


Single eyelid = Before Images and Double eyelid =After Images

Before getting interested in K-Culture, I had no idea about “Double Eyelid Surgery,” maybe my ignorance was because I’ve naturally got “Double Eyelids” and have never considered having a different type of eyelid as being problematic.  To simply put it, if you have a “single eyelid” you don’t have a definaeable fold on your eyelids, as you would with “double eyelids” (you can see from the image above).

Rhinoplasty (Nose Jobs)

The perfect Korean Nose shape?

The ideal nose shape always seem to be ones with a high, defined bridge and a slim tip or nostrils. Weirdly enough, whilst we might have an idea of what we consider to be the ‘perfect nose,’ Leonardo Da Vinci actually came up with a formula to describe the ‘”Ideal nose,” as you can read at the end of THIS page.

Chin Augmentation


To achieve a "V-Line" you need a 'perfect' chin?

In a previous post “Korean Lines” in this series, I wrote a bit about the Korean “V-Line” face shape, where a person’s face shape is slim with a sharp chin. It is because of this need to obtain, the much desired, V-Line shaped face and to appear more feminine that (I think) Korean’s are getting chin augmentations done.

Overall, on the matter of surgery, I cannot judge a person for having surgery done, because I feel that in most cases it’s done because there is an insecurity there- after all everybody feels like they have some flaws with their body.

The ‘negative’ aspect, I feel with K-Culture and surgery is due to the fact that it seems as if Koreans might feel pressured to have surgery because they feel as if they need to conform to a perfect idea of ‘beauty’ and if they don’t  fit into these standard ideas of beauty, they won’t achieve what they want in life for example love, jobs etc.

I can think of no better example of lack of ‘beauty’ = social outcast and underachievement, then this quote from  one of K-Pop’s most famous singers “Rain (Bi, Jung Jihoon)” who spoke about the ‘problem’ with having single eye lids:

I was told after one audition that my singing and dancing was great but I did not make it because I did not have double eyelids.”

And on a funny note, just today via All K Pop, you can read about 2 girls groups arguing for and against plastic surgery HERE, with one of the groups even boasting of their 27 surgeries done between them!

Gotta BE skinny.

Goo Hara Belly Fat?

If I didn’t include the grey ring above, would you even notice Goo Hara’s ‘belly fat?’


Shinji Fat?

And looking at the above picture of Shinji, would you consider her chubby or even fat?

Well, surprisingly enough, K-Culture seems to be answering “Yes” to both questions- which really alarms me! I understand worldwide celebrity culture asks for celebs to maintain this vision of beauty we have of them, and that one of these ‘important’ things is to stay slim but, come on, belly fat on a girl who has a 21 inch waist?! Seriously, that’s just skin, not fat- I have more fat on my lower leg ^^,

However, I should point out that, needing to be thin, isn’t the only reason why I find this a negative aspect of Korean culture, the other thing that goes hand in hand with this are the dieting methods used and promoted by K-Celebs to maintain a slim figure. It seems as if, it’s normal for celebs to admit that they’ll go days without hardly eating anything  in order to appear ‘better’ for a comeback performance or to attend a photoshoot- it’s just what you do! And, whilst I understand that most Asians are naturally skinny etc, a 45kg weight and 5ft7 height, that isn’t natural to your body shape DNA, shouldn’t be so revered and implied to be ‘normal’ as a result of all this unhealthy dieting malarkey!

It does matter if you’re tanned or white- Working towards a White, Western Culture

One of the final, kickers, in this round up of ‘negative’ aspects in Korean ideas of beauty, has to be the fact that Korean stars who may have a bit of a tan of them, can be easily put down as being a ‘foreigner’ who ‘looks Filipino’ or from any other Asian country where tanned skin is considered the norm. Why? Well, it seems K-Culture is stuck in that old frame of mind that light, fair skin = royal princesses from the era of (?) whilst tanned skin = daughter of a farmer, who works in the fields.

But also, this need to look lighter, fairer, not tanned- can be explained with the header above,  of wanting to become more White and Western. This is also pretty much (in my opinion)  a strong driving force behind the physical changes Koreans feel they need to make in order to beautify themselves. Most people might argue and say that it sounds as  if  I’m implying Koreans are abandoning or rejecting their culture for another- but I say that this need/want to be more White and Western is nothing new to Asian culture and doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as an insult.

Being half-Vietnamese myself, it was initially a shock for me when I revisited my Hanoi motherland last year and saw identikit girls walking the streets; the general formula would be high bridged, thin noses, double eye lids and white skin- it was obvious that they themselves wanted to become more ‘Korean’ looking. The worst example I saw was a girl who had bleached her skin SO white, that I was shocked when she moved as I thought she was a white marble statue!

My point is that most people (except Lady Gaga maybe!) look towards other people or cultures for ways to help create an identity for themselves; it’s just that, in this case, Korean culture is being driven by an idea of beauty that (for the most part) isn’t natural to their genetic DNA and in the process, this is becoming a thorn in the side of the youths who grow up thinking that they have to look a certain way to BE somebody important. In fact, this is just a compounding issue with every society it seems.

To end on a bright not, there is one positive and exceptional rule breaker to these negative ideas of Korean beauty this K-Celeb is (drumroll)…


Lee Hyori

Ms Lee Hyori- do you know why? okay, so she may have the perfect high nose and eyes BUT she represents what I think the evolution of the New Korean Woman should be; confident, over 30, healthily weighing 53kg whilst standing 5ft4 tall (the ‘normal’ weight for Korean stars taller than her, ranges between 44-47kg!), thin yet fit through exercise rather than starvation and tanned skin- not princessy white, pale, rather anemic looking. Oh, and she’s not afraid to show her make up less face either 🙂

Source:, and wikipedia