The Meaning of Cosmetic Surgery in Korea
Public attitudes to cosmetic surgery in South Korea have become increasingly optimistic. In general cosmetic surgery is seen as a worthwhile and good investment in the body, rather than a sign of vanity as it is often understood in the West.
The modern Korean woman is said to have exchanged maternal and domestic femininity for a slim, well-toned body and beautiful face. And for many Korean women, cosmetic surgery is not only a symbolic practice of coming of age and care for the self but it serves to provide significant gains in education, marriage and career.
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The popularity of boy-bands in Japan sporting the bishōnen (beautiful boy) look is believed to propel men in their early twenties to seek a softer image. The look is getting more popular – mimicking the boy hero characters of popular Korean manhwa or Japanese manga cartoons and anime. The soft image for these men include a prominent nose tip, a less angular jaw and double eyelids, with augmentation to the abdomen area. The aim is to create a masculine but smooth body with boyish facial features.
With Goo Hara from the hit girl group KARA professing to cosmetic surgery, it is no wonder mere mortals are following suit. Star-struck fans fixated by the beauty standards of Korean celebrities travel to Korea for cosmetic surgery. Many go to Korea in search of renowned plastic surgeons in the hope to emulate the Korean look.
The most popular cosmetic surgery in Korea is the double eyelid surgery to make the eyes look bigger and rounder. But an operation to refine the nose (rhinoplasty) and reconfiguring the jaw bone (jaw bone surgery) are also increasingly popular.
Korean women are arguably more objectified by their male counterparts than any other women in the world, thus leading to a high rate of cosmetic surgery in South Korea. But in saying this, nowadays, for both men and women – beauty brings not only gratification but a degree of status in contemporary Korean society, where first impressions make a lasting impact. Generally in Asia, good looks and having a good face are like stepping stones – for they do open up doors to many of life’s advantages.