Beauty Standards all over the world have different definitions, and some have gone through significant transformations throughout the decades. So what is the Korean Beauty Standard? The world as a whole is pushing towards a more generalized idea of appreciating natural beauty and embracing what we have. Korean celebs are on a different level of enhancing their natural features to attain that flawless look. They have some unrealistic beauty standards for both men and women, which has made plastic surgery a billion-dollar business in the country. It attends to both domestic as well as international patients who come in for operations.
With the presence of a multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry fuelling the needs of the growing generation of their country, going under the knife is like a visit to the dentist. In fact, in a global survey by ISAPS (International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons), Korea comes within the top 10 countries with the highest cases of plastic surgeries done. The Korean society emphasizes a slim body, sculpted v-line, big eyes, porcelain skin, to name a few.
Let us look into the types of facial and body reconstruction (plastic surgery) they go through to conform to the norms of their society.
Light and dewy skin.
Koreans love to have a light, fair, translucent and glossy skin that looks as clear as glass. Girls are encouraged by family members from a very young age to adhere to all these transitions. Most of the Korean facial products are proof of this notion as they promise to attain that clear, fair glowing skin. This kind of clear glossy skin is considered as a symbol of wealth and class, and people with brown or dusky skin tone are looked down upon.
The market is filled with skin brightening creams, serums, BB creams, sunscreens, masks sheets that are filled with different kinds of nutrients that boost cell growth. Some plastic surgery clinics offer specialized skin brightening treatments such as stem cell fat injections that are much more lasting than regular fat injections. These treatments not only brighten the skin but also improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and minimize pores.
There is also a trend these days about attaining a ‘Chok Chok’ skin, which means a damp or moist skin and looks more youthful. Achieving this kind of skin requires a 10-step beauty regime with various products and needs long term commitment from the user.
Korean skincare products are becoming a rage all around the world as they indulge in skin lightening or removal of pores and many other remedies that are targeted to get that beautiful glowing skin.
Very Good and fair skin – A Korean Beauty Standard also for Men!
Just like women, Korean men are also usually seen with perfect skin that is smooth and pores less. Such kind of skin is attained with lots of discipline by having lengthy skincare routines and maintaining it. Salons or beauty clinics can be found catering to male and female customers, both having the same kind of treatments.
Men are becoming more regular in getting skin lightening treatments and facials. For personal care, they use especially nourished products that include cleansers, masks, essence, serums, day and night creams, sunscreen, etc. They make sure that they attain that ‘Chok Chok’ skin that would make them look more beautiful. Someone with a dusky or tanned skin tone will not be considered as the ideal man in their society, so having fair and dewy skin is preferable.
The Korean V-Line Face: Done with Plastic Surgery!
This feature is also pervasive among Koreans who are trying to match the incredible Korean beauty standard, getting that sculpted, sharp jawline that gives a more polished and edgy look to the facial features. Since Asians mostly have a full face, they have to go through facial bone contouring surgeries, which are extremely popular over there. The Koreans have specialized the v-line surgery with their techniques. Under this procedure, the jaw bone is shaved off to make the jawline look soft and more feminine. The excess jaw bone is shaved off and is removed. It takes at least 3 to 5 months for the face to look completely normal.
The V-line surgery is a reduction of the jaw, cheekbone, and chin. This procedure gives the face a more symmetrical and photogenic look and is considered to be the ideal face by Korean citizens. Since this surgery involves restructuring the facial bone, it should only be done under the expertise of experienced surgeons.
In Korea, it costs around USD 5000 – 10000, and in the US or Singapore, the costs maybe 4 to 5 times higher than this.
Some women also use some specialized tapes that are meant to give you that V-line jaw by sticking the tapes to the side of the face.
Another most desired surgery among men is for a sharp v-line. Many of the idols and pop stars showcase a sharp jawline, which increases their demand among the young men to look pretty like them.
While V-line surgery for women involves facial contouring to achieve a small and slim v-line face, for men, the facial contouring surgery aims to make a more natural face line with masculine angles. This kind of surgery can also correct both facial bone and soft tissues while adjusting the angle between lower and upper jaws and also retain the edge below the ear.
A broad or flat chin can also make a face look less presentable, so the width of the chin is very carefully adjusted during the surgery.
Even though this kind of surgery may result in permanent numbness in the jaws or other complications, Men out there are still ready to go under the knife to look more appealing and perfect.
Having a slim and thin body is another mandatory thing among the masses in Korea. Dieting, exercise, and having a rigid health regime are some options to get such an organization. But you can also opt for a tummy tuck or abdominal liposuction, especially for those who want to get perfect results in a short time.
The Korean media emphasizes on being thin, and it is also encouraged by their pop idols or actors/actresses. Kpop Idols openly share their diet secrets with the masses, which are quite extreme.
A famous Korean singer shared that, a week before any important event, she drinks only 3 liters of water every day, and by the seventh day, she looks like a skeleton. She did all this to attain a slim body – achievable with tummy tucks or dieting.
The pressure is so high that teenagers and youth are suffering from eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, depression, and even self-hate. Body shaming is prominent both in society and the media, where they only focus on showing people with skinny bodies.
Girls are educated from an early age, such as when they are 10 – 12 years to diet and workout to maintain a thin figure.
Of course, this also means a having a Masculine Body in Korea.
In Korea like many parts of the world, this involves having a toned upper body with six-packs. See, the Korean beauty standard isn’t so different than the West. Some men may work out vigorously and attain those taunt muscled abs while some may not have enough time to exercise can opt for ‘six-pack surgery’ to get those heavenly abs. Men opt for body procedures to enhance their muscles and to lose weight.
In such a procedure, the surgeons carve out the upper body using liposuction instead of using implants.
Some of them even go through male breast reduction, which is very common among men. This kind of ‘man boobs’ usually occurs due to hormonal imbalances and is not harmful but can lead to psychological problems for men.
Round and large eyes.
Have you ever wondered that your eyelids may make a big difference in other’s perceptions about you or how you look at yourself. Most probably ‘No,’ but if you are a Korean, then this may mean the world to you. Many Koreans are blessed naturally with ‘monolids,’ so they go through blepharoplasty or double eyelid plastic surgery. This plastic surgery is the most common among the population, and it is said that Teenagers are usually suggested to undergo these surgeries as a birthday or graduation gift. One of their presidents had also done this surgery while he was serving in the office. That means the Korean beauty standard often involves plastic surgery, and there is no way around it.
This surgery adds creases to the eyelids and makes the appearance of your eyes big and round. In Korea, this procedure is as easy as getting a manicure done. It costs somewhere around 1000$ – 3000$ and is less complicated than other surgeries with lesser recovery time.
Another trend is the ‘Aegyo-Sal’ look, which means ‘charming fat.’ This look is achieved by injecting fat deposits under the eyes so that you look more youthful. It enhances your eye bags, which is not usually liked by people in the west.
Oval shaped face.
These days Koreans prefer more narrow and oval-shaped faces. If you are born with it, that’s amazing, but if you are not, then you have to put in more effort to get one. People use contouring techniques to achieve that oval-shaped look along with a sharp v-line. And if they want a permanent effect, then they can quickly go under the knife and do cheek reduction surgeries to get the job done.
High arched nose.
Everyone may not be blessed with a small but high arched shape, so in order to achieve that, they go through a surgical procedure called Rhinoplasty. In this process, they extend and shape the nose to remove the flat look of the nose. This is the second most common surgery in Korea after double eyelid surgery.
Asians sometimes have a broad nose, which is not considered very pretty in Korea. They believe that such kind of nose doesn’t compliment the face, and it is always better to alter it by surgery.
Doctors who specialize in plastic surgeries state that they also cater to the needs of a high number of men who come in looking to get a high arched nose.
This kind of surgery is called Rhinoplasty, and it gives a sharp arch to the nose and makes it look sleek and goes well with a v-line face.
This kind of skin is not only fair but also is poreless and translucent like glass. In order to achieve such skin, men and women use multiple products and sometimes have lengthy beauty regimes.
Some of them also like to have clear skin or honey skin. All these are aimed to remove dirt from the skin and keep it at bay. That is also a reason why the average Korean spends so much on skincare and beauty products.
Small head: Can you fit 7 heads below your neck?
Koreans prefer a small head size. They feel that the tiny your head is, the better. You have to be able to fit 7 heads below your neck to be considered beautiful. Most of the celebrities have a very small head under bold, beautiful hair. The ratio is somewhat 1:8, which may seem to be a bit extreme for some. Along with that, they also like to have a full and round forehead with a more pronounced brow bone. This accentuates the eyebrows and gives the face a more polished look.
The influence is so strong to look good always that they are fed all these concepts right from childhood. In a country where a job or college applications should be accompanied by the applicant’s photo, and the recruitment is done based on looks, the desire to be perfect is like an epidemic.
Right from advertisements on the subway about that perfect face and skin to tons of plastic surgery clinics operating in the country, the youth are running towards that dream face and body.
This surge may be the result of K-pop idols and their influence on the masses. Male artists from bands such as TOP, SHINEE, EXO, MONSTA X, etc. have that sharp jawline, masculine body and are seen as ideal men in their society.
So, it is not only the women who are under pressure to look good. The men of this country are no less. Korean men also have to follow certain norms to get readily accepted among the masses. They also have to face lots of prejudices if they don’t possess those certain ideals that make them look more presentable and appealing to women. Some of these beauty standards for men in Korea are:
Korean Anti-aging treatments.
Men in Korea are looking for more options to maintain that youthful skin right into their 50s by using different kinds of treatments to remove wrinkles, fine lines, and preserving their beautiful skin. The most common procedures for getting a facelift are Botox and fillers, as they are cheap and hassle-free.
Some clinics also use ultrasound devices and radio frequency devices to penetrate the skin and provide a facelift that lasts for at least two years.
Tall height. No Surprise.
Having a considerable height is another favorable factor for men in Korea. They tend to attract more attention from women because of such height and look presentable. Once a TV personality in Korea had said on live television that, “Men below 180 centimeters are losers“. This statement became quite a controversy among the general public, with men feeling enraged, but the women started appreciating it.
You won’t usually find K-Pop idols or actors of short height, and this also puts more pressure on looking tall among the youth as these idols are symbolized as the perfect figure of how a man should be.
Now, height is something that you cannot attain by just using exercises or special diets. Your shoes may add an inch to your average height but not a few inches unless the men start walking on stilettoes.
This mindset about short height is so adverse that men who don’t have the desired height have to face social stigma, and they get ready to take any step to increase their height.
Some youngsters with height paranoia have admitted to using 3 to 4 thick insoles inside their shoes to increase their height. And they become super conscious every time they have to take off their shoes in front of others. They can also wear so-called ‘elevator shoes,’ which have extra heels and padding that add a few inches to their height. These are non-surgical ways of increasing height.
While some opting for a more permanent solution in order to increase their height (both men and women) undergo limb-lengthening surgeries to add a few more inches. It is estimated that nearly 600 limb surgeries are done every year in Korea.
Obviously, it isn’t that easy, cheap, or pain-free. In this kind of limb lengthening surgeries, healthy functioning bones such as the femur are broken, and titanium rods are inserted between them. After this, an external support is attached with the legs so that the person can move around freely until the bones start regenerating themselves. It takes somewhere around six months to get back to their everyday lives with an extra 5 to 6 inches to their precious height if you don’t face any complications.
Men spend around USD 9000 to 20000 for such height increasing limb surgeries, and it has become a booming business for such clinics. This kind of operation was initially used for disabled patients or accident cases with limb impairments, but these days, more and more Korean men are opting for limb lengthening surgeries to increase their height.
But it also has high-risk factors such as inability to walk or damaged pelvic bones and sometimes even death due to complications after the surgery. Despite all such risks, these surgeries are becoming more common among men as the availability of such procedures is welcomed all around the country.
Using Makeup: Not just for Women
Men in other countries may hardly wear makeup on an everyday basis, but that is very contradictory in South Korea. If you look at the K-pop idols or actors, you will find them wearing eye shadows, lip tints, or lipsticks on an everyday basis. The Korean beauty standard actually involves men wearing some makeup, too.
Here, men are not ridiculed just because they love to wear some lip gloss or hide those pores using some loose powder. It has become part of their everyday makeup routine. In fact, some of the major brands such as Sephora, Bobbi Brown, YSL have already made an excellent market presence as both men and women are ready to splurge on makeup.An average Korean man spends more on skincare and cosmetics when compared to men from other countries.
In order to make them look pretty and more presentable, it is very common for Korean men to be seen using foundations, concealers, BB and CC creams, setting powders, eyeliners, eye shadows, and lip tints. They are actually challenging the ideas towards the toxic masculinity that the rest of the world is so much in love with.
They are shifting our focus towards the fact that makeup was designed for the face and body and not particularly for men or women.
With the rise of K-pop bands such as BTS, who are termed as the biggest boy-band on the planet right now, Men wearing makeup and being proud of it is not going to be a rare vision anymore. The Korean beauty standard is shaping the world beauty standard. The seven members of the band can be seen wearing lip tints, eye shadows while donning different hair colors as they confidently sing and dance on stage.
These standards of beauty in Korea may seem very unnatural for the rest of the world, but it is very much prevalent in their society and will stay for a long time. Some of these standards help them to take more care of their skin, spending bucks on skincare products while some are pushing them towards surgeries.
As the population has grown up embracing these ideals, the media also feeds them with the same fodder. But now some korean of them are trying to break free of this rigid system. Korean women have started speaking out against these beauty standards using ‘Escape the corset’ movement. They are actually questioning the society about the prevalence of these ideals and are inspiring others to do the same. Some women have stopped using any makeup, and they are raising their voices against these cultural idiocracies.
So, next time you admire the looks of Korean idols, whether they are men or women, don’t forget that those heavenly looks may be the result of some strenuous beauty regime, or they are the blessings of surgical clinics.