Korean Style Plastic Surgery
Few months ago, a blog ( https://kpsurgery.tumblr.com ) made headlines on the web showing before/after photos of people who had face plastic surgery in Korea.
People started to share blog photos on few forums, then medias started to talk about this phenomenon … The transformation of these people was so extreme that it shocked the mass.
I have to confess, I go to visit this website, to make me happy when I’m feeling down. Seeing someone working so hard to change his appearance disgusts you and fascinates you at the same time. I think this is why plastic surgery topic is really taboo, because it always creates extreme reactions among people. But it’s an interesting topic, current, which can bring to reflection.
Before starting I’d like to say that this article is not to blame Korean Plastic Surgery blog (KPS) which has been hardly criticized for months. Understand that the person who manage this blog has a clear interest about plastic surgery (PS), and shares all the photos that she can find with her opinion to inform the readers. I respect her work. Of course this article topic is not only valid for South Korea, I am aware that in other countries, it is exactly the same thing, like Japan, China, USA, Brazil… But this blog mostly talks about Asia and South Korea in particular, so I focus on this topic.
Actually, for Korean culture fans, there is nothing new, but the plastic surgeries photos have a strong visual impact:
It is true and I talk about this few years ago in my old articles, the use of plastic surgery in South Korea is much more common than in Europe. Procedures are more advanced and affordable than Europe and USA, there are less constraints for the patients. It’s as easy to visit your surgeon as going to the barber. Medical tourism in Korea is increasing for many years, more and more patients come from different countries and many practitioners hire translators to please their customers. I remember walking in the streets of Gangnam and seeing advertisings for cosmetic surgery in the subway, and loads of Chinese and Japanese coming out clinics door with stripes around their heads and sun glasses on.
In the meantime there are some points that I would like to make clear, because medias tend to blur the reality:
– Yes, if the amount of people who have plastic surgery is more important in Korea than for example in France, don’t think that all Korean people had plastic surgery to look like dogs. Like everywhere, there are people with different opinions, some cannot afford a plastic surgery (yes it’s possible to be poor), or they are against surgery or not interested about this. So yes it is possible to meet Korean people who never had any plastic surgery as it is possible to meet Korean people who had too much surgery. I was lucky to meet these kinds of people. The problem is that KPS gives the impression that everytime you are going to meet a Korean person you are going to see someone transformed from head to toe. The examples shown on this blog are special cases, it seems to be common because the girl posts only this kind of pictures. Actually if you compare the number of pictures from the blog and the total Korean population, you can guess that it’s a minority.
– Many posts are promoting photos taken from clinics websites. Does it changes anything? Actually yes, because practitioners want to show their best success and won’t hesitate to use Photoshop to enhance the photos. Look closer the “after” photo, often the person wears contact lenses, a lot of makeup and better hairdo. It’s clear that the patient had a full makeover for the needs of the photo. We can also imagine that it is really easy to add with photoshop, plastic surgery that haven’t been made in reality. Increase the roundness of the eyes or reduce the nose size. If an “ulzzang” (who is nothing else than a narcissistic teenager) can do on selfies, imagine what clinics can do on their promoting photos using a graphic designers team.
Don’t forget or maybe you don’t know but every photo is modified with Photoshop in Korea, even school class photos. I remember that I have read somewhere that a clinic have used one patient photos without her approval to promote the clinic services, the woman had just done a simple operation. On these photos the patient was so much modified that it was tough to recognize her, she was looking like someone else. I’m not saying that all the photos are fake and I’m sure that some photos are real, but just think how pictures are modified just to sell us mascara. Of course photos taken privately by bloggers are another story and I don’t think that there is so much fake in this case.
– Because you see only extreme cases on every post, it is easy to believe that actually, a real Korean people is ugly as a toad with a deformed jaw. Of course they’re not ! Of course it is pretty rare to born with a tiny head, a V shape chin and bulging eyes, in Korea like anywhere else there are all kinds of appearances, even very beautiful people who never has plastic surgery and the need of a scalpel!
– The idols: I don’t know why, but still these days, every time when a Kpop star is related to plastic surgery, crazy fans are angry. Seriously guys !!? The real shock to me will be when they will create a new Kpop band 100% natural, yes! But the truth is many of them had plastic surgery when they were very young, before starting their career (it is very common in Korea to have first plastic surgery around 15 years old). Show business is a cruel world really apart : always watched by video cameras, zooming on any little imperfection, if talent doesn’t make everything, the appearance does ! Especially in Kpop world which is based on bishies beauty. I just want to be honest, we all have been attracted by the Kpop phenomenon thanks to our bishies pretty faces. So the fans will give me the example again of Shindong. But he is just an example only here to make people enjoy. Did we have press article dedicated to Shindong in the magazines, with sexy photos like Rain or Jay Park? No we didn’t, I believe! Even if people like Kpop music and universe, the idols physical appearance is more important than talking about “nu metal”, for example. Deny it is just ridiculous. We need our bishies, like a junkie needs his dose, we want enjoy a maximum. So, we are all a little bit guilty of this phenomenon: we want to dream and they give it to us. Celebrities want to reach the pure perfection, even if they have to change their appearance if it’s needed, just to get more fans. And it works, so why not ? Of course celebrities need to do more than people like you and me, they physical appearance is their money maker. Once again even if the idols can influence fashion and trends, the rest of the population won’t do the same things: a part of them will follow, that’s clear, but there will be always another part of people able to think by themselves less impressionable.
– I said it few years ago, but I don’t believe it anymore: Korean or Asian people have plastic surgery to look like white people. I remember that I wrote this somewhere a while ago, this conclusion was made after researches on the Internet. One again, be really careful with your sources founded on the web, try to remember that nothing can replace real life experiences. What I mean is, I was blinded about this idea, widely spread on the web that Korean people have plastic surgery to look like Caucasian. The truth is something else. Actually it is easy to be confuse: Korean people want rounded eyes, wider nose, whiter skin… like Caucasian right? Actually Korean people are looking for “rarity”, the opposite of what they are. I understood this talking with Korean friends, traveling there, etc… Never someone said “I want to be a white guy”. In fact, Korean people are really proud about what they are: Asian people. They want to whiten their skin when in the west people try to get a tanned skin. Do you think that westerners want to look like African people? By saying this, we realize that this logic is not going anywhere. Plus, surgery procedures are adapted to Asian body and face, even the famous double eyelid surgery is really specific to the Asian eye and doesn’t look like a Caucasian eye which has a lunar shape crease.
Of course they will always be idiots who want to change their race to another. But for information, I knew a girl (Caucasian English), who photoshoped her photos so much that she was looking like a Korean girl on them. Even if she applied tons of BB creams to look whiter than she already was, she was making the illusion to have slanting eyes with a weird makeup. Should I deduce that you, non-Asian people reading this article are llike her ? A bit easy, isn’t it ?
In the whole, what do I think about all of this?
If you have asked me this question in 2008, I would answered that I was clearly against. Now, even if I don’t agree 100% about it, I understand that plastic surgery has positive sides. It is too easy to qualify people to be “superficial ” only because they have decided to have plastic surgery. I understand people when they say “accept yourself as you are”. But in certain way, I think that this idea is hypocrite, people just say this to be politicaly correct, when human nature has for habit to criticize any imperfection or weakness: you are a bit fat, so you are obese / you are skinny, so you are anorexic / you are ugly, too lazy to look better / you have plastic surgery, so you are superficial… But except this “accept yourself as you are” (because us, we will always find something to criticize). Actually, I think that people will have less plastic surgery if the society won’t be so harmful. If we have to accept ourselves as we are, can I conclude that transsexual people are wrong wanting to change gender ? Bullshits, in Europe there are psychological tests to pass to determine is someone is born in the wrong gender/body and start the hormonal treatment before surgery. What about people who are born disfigured ? Yes, there are extreme examples, but it is in human nature to judge the others.
Indeed, it’s meaningless and we should shut up our mouth most of the time, but we can’t stop to react about what is around us. I can say that I’m tolerant with people having plastic surgery, but when I see photos of an extreme case, I can stop myself to yell “HOLLY SURGERY!”, like here:
First of all I’m human, and yes I love to go into raptures over tabloids, sorry!
Plastic surgery topic is not black or white. There are excesses, people addicted to it. But we should blame the surgeons who take advantage of people with psychological weakness to get their money. We can’t say that every person having plastic surgery can enter the same category ! Stop to this witch hunting just for few minutes, time out !
I’ve known people against plastic surgery, others made it, some would like to try. My conclusion comes that each of us has his own beauty ideal. If it’s a personal choice, so honestly, nothing to say about this. Some persons have big complex about their nose, breast or anything else. Some people content themselves with makeup to fix their “defects” or photoshop their photos… But sometimes it’s not enough. Most of the time these actions are personal, often these people don’t want to talk about their experience, because they don’t want to be judged as they committed a crime. One or two plastic surgeries can make someone feels better. If people are happy about the result, then there is nothing to say and our opinion doesn’t count much. They have done what they wanted to do by they own free will and it was a big effort just to improve a physical appearance. Even if you don’t like it, the essential is that the result match the person’s need. She has done this for herself, not for you or me. After all, if somebody will give you the chance, you’ll probably find something to change, even a tiny detail because it will be a big difference to you. But finally, inside you are always the same person who will become more confident once the little change is done, it’s a possibility. If the person is still recognizable, I don’t see where is the problem.
I’m not saying that I agree 100% with plastic surgery, and yes “accept yourself as you are” it also a part of the true. As everything plastic surgery has positive and negative points. For example I really think that plastic surgery should be controlled and watched closely. I don’t believe that plastic surgery should be forbidden, but when I see Korean teenagers having the right to get their first plastic surgery before they high school diploma, I think it doesn’t help them to take the good decisions. I keep thinking that face and body change a lot with time, especially between adolescence and twenty years old and that we really learn to accept our physical appearance later. Often, when we take a look to our old photos when we were 16 years old, we are surprise to think that after all we didn’t look so bad. Above all, really important things at this time seem now pointless. There is a real risk to regret the changes made few years after, but once again it is case-by-case basis.
The big problem in Korea, is that there is no case-by-case basis anymore. All demands are accepted, if the client is ready and able to pay. It creates a beauty criteria standardization which are really difficult to get unless getting on the surgery table. Take the example of the “V-shape” which is supposed to be the ”perfect” (really keep this in quotation marks) chin shape. In Korea they have a real fixation on the head size. A woman might have a small head, like a doll or a child (remember that beauty criteria are different than the west in Korea). The best way to get this if you are born like me, with a big ”plate face”, is to reduce your jaw size with a jaw shaving on the sides and add an implant to the chin, to create the “V” letter shape. A very painful process as you can image, which can cost few teeth (in extreme cases you have to take off until 8 teeth), the jaw bone has to be reshaped, then you can feed yourself for weeks with liquid food only. For a long time, I was complexed by my face shape, I think it’s too big. Looking at Korean girls, with their sweet, lovely and small faces, I have to confess that sometimes I was pissed off.
It was very silly , because it is a very new trend. if you compare Korean celebrities photos from 10 to 15 years ago to today photos, you will see that all the “hallyu” (old school) celebrities don’t have the “V” shape. In the 90-00, stars meet the needs of different beauty criteria. In few year the trend will be something else, and the V shape will become obsolete. We enter in the consumption vicious circle, excepted than buying a new trend jacket, it’s a new nose or a new chin. I think that plastic surgery should only correct each one imperfections instead of create new fashion trends.
Uhm Jung Hwa in 1998 (no V-shape= square chin)… and more recently (V shape ! Magic !)
Once I understood this phenomenon, I have to confess that I stress less than before about my physical appearance. Indeed, my big head still annoys me sometimes, but apparently, according to my friend Maysie, photographer on her free time, my cheekbones are extremely photogenic. Because of her, my nickname in secondary school was Pocahontas, finally it’s not so bad, right !?
What makes me worry the most, is that plastic surgery seems to have no limit in Korea. Look at the idols that we see now. They all look the same: round eyes, v-shape chin , small nose, nothing noticeable finally. I miss to see imperfect people faces, faces like Joo Ji Mo, for example with his noticeable nose, recognizable among thousands.
And cheekbones like Soji! (Oh Soji, I love you and I will always love you XD)
This physical appearance standardization among stars makes me tired, it finally took me away fron Hallyu. Once you have seen one, you have seen them all. The worst, is to see bishies that I really like before turn into a plastic thing, barely recognizable. Does individuating is still possible today? Instead to cheer up people to use they particularities as a strength, we prefer to put them in a mold and erase everything. I’m sure that even Joo Ji Mo didn’t always like his nose, but this is the point which have made him look different and came out from the bishie world. I’m someone who likeS to do the things my own way and it makes me sad to see the youths transformed as little robots following fashion diktat.
I respect other people choices if they need to make little physical changes, but I aso believe that there is a line that shouldn’t be cross. If you are never satisfied about the retouches done and you keep slicing your face for a decreasing result, it meens that there is something wrong, there is a snake in the grass! In brief, you understood me, it’s like a scam, isn’t it Park Bom ?
Honestly if I have to hear again a Blackjack to tell me that Park Bom never had plastic surgery, I’ll drawn her in botox. We’ll see how natural she’ll look after that ! (violent girl :))
IT’S RANT TIME !
The fact that Kpop fans deny all plastic surgery rumors about their idols is something that I will never get. It’s an insult to my intelligence and their at the same time. just compare between old and new photos to find huge changes. It’s not like it is something new on the web, plastic surgery is very common in South Korea, this is a fact. Of course the idols will use plastic surgery, after all, they are always under the spots lights. And honestly if your favorite star had plastic surgery, what does it change? Well, I understand that you hope to see them naturally beautiful (surely most of them were), but if you like your idol physical appearance, why not accept it as it is : a nice job. Seriously I don’t see where is the problem. i love Park Hyo Shin, ever if he is Mister Plastic in flesh, he had too much plastic surgery, it’s clear, it’s a pity by the way, but he still makes good songs, so he can do what he wants with his money and his physical appearance, it doesn’t mean that I will quit listening his songs, even if one day he decides to makes his lips as Nicki Minaj (note to Park Hyo Shin: this is not a challenge, just an example, put back the botox syringe right now, and keep quiet !). Only because you are totally against plastic surgery, doesn’t mean that you can impose your idea on your idols, at the end of the day, they do want they want!
The worst are those who deny the facts when the person did this five years ago and it’s obvious. Don’t need to try to explain either that if Mr/Ms XXX did this, it is for medical reason (check again Pack Bom photos for autograph purpose. I have nothing against her in particular, it’s just because some of her friends pisses me off).
My rant is over now we can come back to the article !
Today the use of fillers is common, it is not officially plastic surgery because is doesn’t last forever. Fillers are actually temporary implants locally injected in epidermis (skin), the effect last between three to six months, before disappearing. There are all kinds of fillers: those which can be injected in the chin to give you the V-shape temporally (hi Michelle Phan), those which are put on your cheekbones to look 10 years younger, those giving you bags under your eyes (“aegyol sal like Kim Jaejoong”). This is an alternative for those not wanting a permanent effect or just wanting to try the changes before having definitive plastic surgery. The only matter is that there is not much control about fillers (because it is technically not plastic surgery), because it is something new, we don’t know the long-term effects for regular use. Lot of celebrities (not only Korean but American and English too) use fillers, and play with this to deny rumors about their possible surgery (because it is technically not plastic surgery ), don’t be fooled ! After all, for those wanting to try, why not ?
I am not totally for plastic surgery. When I see extreme transformations, of course I feel amused, it’s like to see the ugly little duck becoming a swan. in the meantime, I’m worried: sentimentally, what kind of future can they have? Ok they will be more successful with the opposite gender than before, but all of this isn’t based on physical appearance,finally? If they can find the right person who can love them whatever they looked like before, so awesome! But what about the children? We always hope to have a bit of ourself in our child, what would it be in this case ?
I really shouldn’t laugh at this. -_-…
Yes the idea to have plastic surgery crossed my mind. At this time my acne was very bad, I even think going back to Korea for a skin treatment (yes plastic surgery is not only, breast implants and botox, little treatments of any kind can be considered as plastic surgery like : lasers treatment, skin whitening, etc). I dreamed to have a baby skin, because until 28 years old, I had acne non stop, I heard from a friend (she often goes to Korea to have botox injections) that Korean doctors could give me a perfect skin, then I won’t need foundation anymore. Can you imagine, it’s like a dream! Luckily I’ve found another treatment which has worked and save me from a two ways plane ticket to Seoul. My skin is not 100% perfect, I have large pores, black spots, acne marks, redness and pimples appearing randomly time to time. Nonetheless I understood that I’m satisfied of my skin. No doubt that in people minds, I’m very far from a perfect baby skin, but compared to how I was before, for me it’s already heaven. I am happy now, and most of the time I use only concealer and compact powder to go out. I spent the summer without foundation, and I feel good.
Like everybody I have complexes. But I’m going to be 30 next month and I realize that some things don’t annoy me anymore, for example my eyes (especially after my trip to Korea, Korean people love my double eyelids), my skin color or my stretch marks. One day I’d like to fix my teeth, but right now, my financial position doesn’t allow it. Would I try the V-shape if I could? I don’t think so. The matter is that I’m a real coward with surgery. The idea to have a bumped face, and eat only soup for fews weeks freaks me out! I am a person who loves to eat! Honestly if my complexes will be bigger, I will probably think that plastic surgery is the solution and all the sufferings will worth it. Anyway I’m too lazy and I have other priorities right now. I feel comfortable in my body and just the idea not to be able to make some moves, losing parts of my bones or having a perfect body is enough to cool me down. Of course never say never, but right now, yes, I feel good and my physical defects are part of myself, I can live with them. If one day I change my mind, then I’ll be please to do it. It will be a personal reason and a choice that I have to make myself. I will assure myself that it won’t be a puerile decision and I will make sure to take the best advices. I hope that you’ll do the same if one day you decide to cross the line. There is nothing bad to enhance your appearance by wearing nice clothes, makeup, hairdo, playing sport or take care what you are eating and even having plastic surgery. If it stays healthy and your health is not in danger for stupid reasons, a bit of narcissism doesn’t kill people. Like everything, you have to consume in moderation.