Talking about beauty and fashion in Korea, they seem to have very strict rules. In the West we are used to value individualism, but Korea is different. Since it’s an ethnic country with a social-focused culture, Koreans tend to obey to cultural rules in all aspects, and beauty is totally one of them. Do not underestimate the strictness – it’s really about exact angles and ratios that might give you a strange feeling of math lesson. Your face doesn’t match exact proportions? No problem, South Korea is the biggest empire of plastic surgeries. Learn well at school, and mom and dad will buy you a plastic surgery… and yes, it happens for real!
So how are you supposed to look, in case you are a beauty seeker Korean?
Well, no matter if you are a man or a woman, you are supposed to look young and delicate, even a little bit cute. This trend is influenced a lot by K-pop idols – I mean, I don’t think there are many Western rappers who normally get pink unicorns from their fans.
His stage name is Rap Monster. What more can i see…
Japanese style, Korean style. You tell who’s who
On one hand, Koreans might appear cute in Western eyes, but they are never too cute. The over-sweetness belongs to their Japanese neighbors who own the Kawaii style, which represents over-sweetness and uses childish features.
Korean style is neither childish nor too cute – they always walk on the fine line of delicate cuteness.
Both beauty and fashion have those characters of Korean cuteness; let me call it Aegyo, which is the Korean term for being cute.
Now, let’s take a look at a typical Korean street:
First of all, look at the girls! On one hand, they are not wearing decolletage, but on the other hand their skirts are very short. Very. And no, it is not considered immodest – it’s just how it is, even though short dresses were forbidden by law(!) just a few decades ago. Another interesting point is about upper body exposure – the upper part of the traditional costume, Hanbok, originally included only a short jacket. Only later on, when the women were tired of not being able to move freely, they added kind of strapless under the jacket.
Today, when the norm is the exact opposite, long off-shoulder dresses are considered very elegant and chic, almost royal.
It’s not a plastic surgery!
What about makeup? Well, they use it a lot, But you might not notice it. The Korean makeup does not make your face a canvas; its goal is to improve your natural features, so that you will look like a natural beauty. Some girls are so skilled and do it on a daily basis, so when their boyfriends see them bare faced for the first time – they are shocked.
So pretty, so manly. K-actor Park Shi Hoo, born 1977
About the author:
Judith Bach is a language teacher and an independent researcher on one hand, an amateur fashion designer on the other hand, and in case you have a third hand she is also an ardent fan of South Korea. What do all those things have to do with each other? Well, to find it out visit her YouTube blog kLover Hebrew =)