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Modern day South Korea is commonly known for its high rate of plastic surgery, innovative cosmetics and influential pop culture. After having come across ‘The Korean Wave’, impelled by the spread of K-dramas and K-pop over Asia, I was quickly introduced to the doll-like celebrities with fair, porcelain skin, a well-defined nose, large eyes and a small chin, which lead me to gain an interest on the beauty standards in South Korea. The aim of this project is to decipher how extreme the beauty standards in South Korea are for both men and women, as well as going into depth with the causes of the standards and the actions taken by the public to meet these standards. 

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A “youthful-looking appearance” is desired amongst both men and women in South Korea to achieve the ulzzang look K-pop idols display, generating a bright and soft image (Seoul TouchUp, 2012). The term ‘ulzzang’, translated literally, means ‘best face’. It is a popular term in South Korea to describe people who meet the beauty standards. Seoul TouchUp explains that the ulzzang look includes “fairer skin, double eyelids, a prominent nose bridge, and a slimmer looking face”. It is clear South Korea has strict beauty standards that are difficult to inherit naturally, therefore plastic surgery clinics are often visited to achieve it. Double eyelid surgery, to enlarge and round the eyes, is the most popular procedure as many South Koreans have monolids, in which their eyelids do not have a defined crease. 

Due to the Western-dominated media, South Korea is exposed to the Western culture to a great extent, resulting in many South Koreans idolising Western facial features. Koreans are often discriminated in the workplace and daily life if they do not own these features (Park, Carol Eugene, 2017).