The younger generation is changing the beauty game in South-Korea. Korea is well known for its beauty standards. Women have a preferred look which includes a V-shape face and big eyes with double eyelids. Their skin should be pale and bright and their body skinny. Not everyone is born with these features and plastic surgery seems to be an option for solving that problem. In 2015 South-Korea ranked number 3 of the world with their total procedures, according to ISAPS international survey on aesthetic/cosmetic. However 2 years later South-Korea wasn’t even in the top 10 anymore.
Walking around in Konkuk University accompanied by Joonji it’s hard to miss all the colorful beauty stores. Make-up, face masks and different crèmes are all on sale and Joonji is eager to talk about the products she is familiar with. Joonji works at Harper’s bazaar Korea and a variety of different brands get sent to her office for promotion. It’s hard for her to mention all the beauty brands in Korea as they are so many. She’s well aware that the beauty industry in Korea is huge. Once we get seated in a nice café she takes the latest issue of Harper’s bazaar magazine Korea out of her bag. On the front page Fashion, feminism and freedom is written. “Slowly the younger generation is getting more proud of their natural own beauty,” Joonji says as I wonder about the words written on the front page. “Everyone has their own beauty and they start to realize it’s okay to be different. The preference of the beauty standard is still there. Yet slowly we’re accepting new western trends.” says Joonji
The media promotes the korean beauty standard
Harper’s Bazaar magazine Korea targets the young adults and Joonji agrees that the media helps promoting the Korean beauty standard. They mostly show people that live up to the beauty standard in the magazines or really famous American celebrity’s that happen to be the face of a certain brand. “ If I have to look for pictures for an article about make up trends, I have to put a picture of someone that looks the prettiest with the best facial features. Personally it is hard for me to do that sometimes. I feel a lot of young adults pursue a certain look they will never be able to pull off because it is what they see everywhere. When Joonji says everywhere she is not exaggerating. Subways offices and main roads are filled with billboards of idols and beauty commercials. “People look up to certain famous idols and want to look like them.” To promote products big brands use famous idols to boost their sales.
The Modernizing age
“Thanks to the internet and apps like Instagram and YouTube, Koreans get involved with other cultures and their perspective broadens. It’s because of this that the younger generation is standing up for themselves and saying that they should look the way they want to look, rather than trying to be something they’re not. “ Things like curves, tanner skin and darker and bold make up are getting popular,” Joonji explains. In South-Korea it is very important to listen to the elders and they have a lot of respect for their elders. Even in their language there is a way to speak to elders and a way to speak to people your own age or younger. The opinions of your seniors are very important. “My seniors tell me to wear less make up because they still believe that we should maintain the standard we have now. I think a lot of young people have to hear that nowadays. It makes it harder to change.”
Joonji things that the standard won’t be completely gone in the future as it will always be part of the Korean culture. And what is a nation without culture? The standard will probably forever be a part of Korean beauty but maybe other looks will also be accepted .I want the young generation to have a chance to show their own beauty because everyone is beautiful in their own way.