South Korea: a bustling, highly developed country known for its technological advanced innovations, eccentric pop artists, and its highly-motivated people that have shifted the atmosphere and economy of their homeland from one of poverty and agriculture to the economic powerhouse it is today. It seems to stand, however, that a combination of all three factors have led to something elsethe rise of the plastic surgery industry.
New technologies in facial reconstruction has given medical professionals the ability to alter ones physical characteristics in cheaper, more efficient ways. The rise of social media has led to a consumerist culture in which fans worship the hundreds of celebrities who have successfully infiltrated the entertainment industry, in part because of their idealistic physical appearances. And competition to rise above ones peers to compete for the same jobs and standing in society means that a perfect resume is no longer enough.
Since when did the standard of beauty in Korea become so high, and how has the rise of the plastic surgery industry led to even higher beauty standards in this positive feedback loop?
DESCRIPTION OF TOPIC
Physical appearance is ain South Korean society. But what are some of the most prevalent and most desirable beauty standards? While some may be shared by many Westernized cultures, such as a slim body, outsiders might find certain traits unusually specific. These include pale skin, a , round eyes, the presence of double-eyelids (or epicanthic folds), a high nose bridge, small lips, a small face, andaegyo sal, which are bags of fat under the eyes that supposedly add to a more youthful appearance. A combination of these attributes may mean that one is labeled with the unique neologism ofmomjjang(perfect body) orulzzang(perfect face), lest be considered to be a part of themiyong hawui kyegup(a cosmetic underclass) and ruin your chances of success in the future (Gelezeau 2015).
While such characteristics might be assumed originally to be those attributed to female, Korean men are subjected to similar or the same standards of beauty; thus, this increase in aesthetic surgery rates is also applied to Korean men (Holiday, Elfving-Hwang 2012). There is even a popular term for these so-called beautiful men: kkot-minam, which literally translates to beautiful flower boys. While in other Westernized cultures such beauty and even the notion of cosmetic surgery might be attributed to femininity and, in turn, carry connotations of gay sexuality (Holiday, Elfving-Hwang 2012), this is not the case in South Koreaas a result, Korean men in their twenties and thirties are more predisposed to cosmetic surgery than Western men (Holiday, Elfving-Hwang 2012).
There is a procedure for nearly all the components of beauty mentioned previously, and plastic surgery continues to become more normalized in South Korean society. The most popular surgeries are, respectively, (1) blepharoplasty (double eyelids), (2) rhinoplasties (nose), and (3) jaw reshaping (Holiday, Elfving-Hwang 2012, 60). As public attitudes towards aesthetic surgery in Korea become increasingly positive (Holiday, Elfving-Hwang 2012, 60), children as young as middle school and high school are undergoing procedures to physically alter their appearances. The statistics are telling: the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that South Korea has theprocedures per capita (Park 2018), and the New Yorker estimates that between one-fifth and one-third of women in Seoul have gone under the knife (Marx 2015).
DESCRIPTION OF SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
The structuralist perspective of society is the view that there are social structures that shape how individuals think and act (Lecture
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