Plastic-Surgery-Happy in Korea

by Sharon -- July 11, 2011

I am not a fan of this type of plastic surgery.

When I think of the fact that South Korea tops the list of countries that are the most plastic surgery happy, I am a little disappointed that it happens to be the country of most of my heritage. When I think of the fact that people in South Korea predominantly get their eyes “widened” to look more “western” because their idea of beauty is “western looking eyes”, I start to get really sad. When I think about the fact that South Korean parents are now encouraging their children, as young as 12 years old, to get plastic surgery to look more beautiful, I start to get angry.

To rewind a little bit, I do believe there is a difference between this and the kind of plastic surgery that enhances someone’s body appearance in general (breast augmentations, liposuction, lip injections, etc). The kind of plastic surgery that I am NOT a fan of is the kind where an entire race of people wants what another race has. Granted I realize that not every Korean wants to look like a white person, but I know that many of them desire bigger, wider eyes, which they call “western eyes”. That “double eyelid” is such a prized physical trait here that some parents not only allow their children to get the surgery, but they encourage it.

The importance of beauty here in South Korea is astonishing. I realize that beauty is also important in the U.S., but the difference is that plastic surgery is much cheaper and more readily available here than it is back home. Do I think that Americans would get more plastic surgery if it was as easy and cheap? Maybe. But I don’t think they would get it as much as Koreans. Although beauty is also important back home, there’s still a strong cultural difference that I notice; more Americans teach their children to love themselves as they are. There is that ever present mentality in America to love your children unconditionally and encourage them to love what they were born with. I don’t see that as much here. Obviously I haven’t taken a nationwide poll to come to these conclusions, but the differences are pretty apparent once you’ve been here and observed the culture from the inside.

Also, Koreans openly admit to their country’s hyper-obsession with beauty. A few Koreans have told me that if their daughters were not deemed “pretty” by society’s standards, they would encourage them to get plastic surgery (and these were people who I would have assumed would NOT have had this opinion). The interesting thing is that the parents’ intentions are good- they want what’s best for their child in Korea, and in Korea they just so happen to believe that finding a good job and a good spouse happens by being beautiful (there is only one definition of beauty here, and that is having wide eyes, pale skin, no fat, and looking perfect all of the time). The problem with this is that in 20 years, if Korea keeps this up, will the entire Korean population be fake? After all, plastic surgery doesn’t alter  your genes. “Ugly” people who were made “beautiful” by plastic surgery will still make “ugly” babies… right?

One reason why Korea is so obsessed with plastic surgery may be because Asians in general are much less worried about being “PC” than we are back in America. Here in Asia, people openly call others “fat” to their face without any judgment. In America, that person would be deemed an utter A-hole.  Could the problem be with Americans? Are we too worried about ruffling the ‘politically correct’ feathers that we can’t even openly tell it how it is? Maybe plastic surgery is just not widely accepted enough in America because we’re too busy keeping our mouths shut. What do you think?

My concluding statement: I was made to look like my parents. Why would I want to change that? I was raised with my parents telling me I was perfect the way I am, and now I am a confident and self-assured adult. Sure, I have insecurities like every other person, but I don’t feel the need to get plastic surgery to “erase” them. Isn’t everything about confidence anyway? Why not instill confidence in your children rather than tell them to get plastic surgery? It will only make them feel like they need it to be happy. After all, you’ll have kids one day, and one day your little girl will look up at you and say “Mommy, why don’t I look like you?” What will you say?

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3 Responses to “Plastic-Surgery-Happy in Korea”

  1. I think you identified both issues: Americans are too afraid of offending each other, of being accused of being wrong in any way; while Koreans are too obsessed with achieving their view of perfection, to the detriment of everything else. The two cultures are like the extremes of the issue, in my opinion.

  2. Great post, Sharon! I had no idea that form of plastic surgery existed: “widening” the eyes to appear more western. The thing I don’t understand is this: How did it happen that Koreans came to see Western eyes as being more beautiful than Asian eyes? Is it from being bombarded over the years by American TV, movies, and music? Very odd…

  3. good post!!! i wonder if people would get more done if it was cheaper here …. i would assume so.

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