Agents of Change: Influence of Korean Celebrities on Aesthetic Standards

The Plastic Surgery Capital of the World

Plastic surgery in Korea has become common to the point that a typical graduation gift in Korea for young girls is a rhinoplasty or blepharoplasty(nose surgery and double eyelid surgery respectively). For the 8th year in a row, South Korea retains the crown for the most plastic surgeries per capita and it seems that Korea will retain that title for quite a while.

I Aspire to be Like You

subway plastic surgery
Subway poster in Apgujeong, Korea’s Plastic Surgery Capital

Korea’s population is homogeneous, meaning that it is not ethnically diverse, compared to the USA. This means that beauty standards influence almost all of the population since everyone looks similar. Furthermore, Korean traditional culture tends to be increasingly collective, which leads to a desire to meet the communities standards[1].

For example, Jung Chaeyeon, former member of I.O.I., admitted to having double eye-lid surgery when she was in middle school, and later her nose. Other girls see how better looking she got, and thus desire to do what she did: to go under the knife.

Korean celebrities raise beauty standards, and because the population is competitive, it seems that plastic surgery has become a necessity rather than a commodity. Korean people greatly value aesthetic, and this is seen during job interviews where applicants are requested to attach pictures of themselves to the resumes. According to Sung Joo Shin, a Korean student, “plastic surgery has become so integrated into the Korean job culture that if it increases my chances of getting a better job, I would get it.”

With such high standards being placed on young Koreans, it is no wonder that plastic surgery rates are rising continuously every year. If one out of five women have gone surgery, will the prospects of finding a naturally beautiful woman drop?

For more information on Korea’s Plastic Surgery trends:

[1] Diana D. Ahn, Individualism and Collectivism in a Korean Population (Scripps College, 2011) p.7.



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