As evident in the pop culture of South Korea, appearances are extremely important. Children, adolescents, and adults strive to be brilliant with their minds as well as their looks. Cosmetics and even plastic surgery play a huge role in this.
Young People and Beauty
Students are very aware of their body and appearance. It is not unusual for students to critique the looks of themselves and those around them. It might surprise those living in other countries to learn that there are full-length mirrors in nearly every high school hallway. Large scales can also be found, so students can weigh themselves throughout the day. Being overweight is closely associated with health, and Koreans will not hesitate to inform someone if they are overweight.
Plastic surgery is common in South Korea, and is even rampant in high schools. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reported that 1 out of 5 women in South Korea (including adolescents) have had some kind of cosmetic surgery.
Procedures in a Social Context
A huge difference between cosmetic surgeries in South Korea and other countries like the United States is how it is seen socially. There is no negative stigma placed on having procedures in South Korea.
One of the most popular surgeries is called blepharoplasty, which is also known as “double eyelid” surgery. An extra fold of skin above the eye is created, and it is visible when the eyes are open. About half of the East Asian population has this double lid naturally. A number of high school students plan on having the procedure once they graduate, and look forward to getting compliments once it is completed.
Investing in Beauty
The face of Korea is changing, with a high demand for skilled workers it is not uncommon for South Koreans to put in sixteen-hour workdays. Students are also very dedicated to their studies, and work hard to do well in school. One of the reasons the double eyelid surgery is so popular is because it is not very invasive. Patients can return to work or to their studies without having to take time off.
Many Koreans relax by enjoying popular music and dramas. K-Pop singers compose repetitive songs that strike a perfect balance between flirtation and innocence. Both genders adore them, and this adoration has led many people to the plastic surgeon’s office. Some patients bring photographs of these stars, requesting to mimic their appearance. Plastic surgery is also a common theme in Korean dramas. Characters may go through surgery in order to succeed at work or in love, and sometimes both.
Aside from popular culture, one of the biggest reasons this surgery is in such demand is because it is seen as an investment. Competition for work and to find a partner are fierce, and looking a certain way often gives people an advantage. There is also a notion of being able to transform oneself into an identity that should have been natural. In combination with the prevalence of surgery in the media, many South Koreans see cosmetics and plastic surgery as investing in their futures.