About one-third of South Korean women between the ages of 19 and 29 have undergone cosmetic surgery before.
Plastic surgery is so popular in South Korea that 70% of High School students undergo eye surgery or receive it as graduation presents from family members.
South Korean doctors are excellent at their jobs and there are few cases of botched surgeries.
Blepharoplasty or double-eyelid surgery is the most common procedure in South Korea. Others include face lifts and nose jobs unlike the US and Nigeria where Brazilian Butt Lifts for bigger buttocks are the most popular.
Can you imagine how a teenager who is overweight or hasn’t undergone plastic surgery will feel in South Korea? The standard of beauty in South Korea is quite high, but why is there an obsession with plastic surgery?
After the Japanese invasion, the South Koreans struggled with their identity
The country has been at the mercy of foreign powers and has struggled to find its identity.
From 1910 to 1945, Korea was under the colonial rule of Japan. They hated it and still feel anger and resentment towards the Japanese till today.
Shortly after colonial rule, Korea came under the United States government and was divided into North and South by the U.S.
From all indications, the type of plastic surgery aims to reduce the Oriental or Asian face which is usually round with small slanted eyes – as if they want to eliminate any resemblance to the Japanese.
South Koreans undergo blepharoplasty or double-eyelid surgery which gives them an eyelid and makes their eyes wider.
It can be argued that the incursion of the US into their lives and country made them prefer western ideas of beauty to the Asians.
South Korea is a collectivist and conformist society
South Korea is like the movie, Divergent. The central theme of the movie is everyone in society must act a certain way, if you try to be different or special, then you cannot exist in that society.
The South Koreans are Neo-Confucians who believe in a unified society. If plastic surgery is the prevailing beauty standard, then everyone must join in. There is no space for individuality, but for conformity.
Social media and celebrities are the standardsof beauty
K-Pop and K-drama are popular exports from South Korea and they influence the prevailing standard of beauty.
Social media also plays a role, South Koreans love the internet and it is one of the best-connected countries in the world, with an internet usage rate of about 91.6% in 2018.
Internet users are people between 20 and 29 years who reportedly spend an average of about 24.2 hours per week online.
Kim Taehee is the Kim Kardashian of South Korea and the standard for most cosmetic surgeries.
A survey of 290 young South Korean men and women cited Kim TaeHee, a famous Korean actress, as the most attractive female celebrity, and many Koreans want to look like her.
For South Koreans, appearance is character
Attractiveness is a key to success in South Korea. You can be denied a job in South Korea if you do not look attractive. People get plastic surgery so they can land their dream jobs.
This is because the South Koreans believe in physiognomy which means a person’s facial features are linked to their fortune or character.
A popular story that shows the belief in physiognomy is in the 20th century President, Chun Doo Hwan’s mother smashed her teeth with a rock after a wandering monk told her she would have a successful son if only her teeth were less protruding.
Many parts of the world are attempting to reject the stereotypical pattern of beauty with phrases like fatphobia, skinny phobia and advocating for diversity in beauty.
However, for South Koreans, beauty can be altered, made better and uniform.