Seeing Things Through New Eyes.

You have one facebook friend request from “강혜인”

A girl that was my classmate in Korea and already my friend on facebook sent me a request and I couldn’t understand why until I saw her new profile picture, Her eyes now with a cut crease staring back at me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced meeting a friend with a different face from the first I met and from my time on exchange in South Korea, I can see easily why they would do it. Comparable to braces in the West, getting surgery to get rid of the Mongolian fold in your eyes and create a new kind of eyelid  is common place in Korea and although it’s been talked about before in DIGC330 I was really unsatisfied with the article and I wanted to touch on the topic more thoroughly.


I read an article in Marie Claire recently with the beginning, if you want to feel bad about your looks go to South Korea and I can’t disagree with that statement.


Under the fashion and beauty section in Korea’s number one website, NAVER. You can find blogs about cosmetic surgery. I’m going to refrain from the use of the PLASTIC because in Korea the word for plastic surgery actually translates to ‘reformation’ so I think this kind of language difference can already attribute to the different feelings countries have about plastic surgery.

After a long day of school and work usually a 12 hour a day, taking the subway home can be one of the most depressing necessities. While standing on the train thinking about your day, the subway cart and station is full of cosmetic surgery billboards with slogans like “my daughter now you can get married.” Coming from Australia where we’re always taught regurgitatively it’s a very confronting thought to have that in order to be successful or appreciated you need to change you appearance, but in Korea it’s very common to talk openly about someones appearance and suggest how they can improve themselves and beauty is really only skin deep.


Daughter don’t worry, from now you can get married.


The clinic that mums choose.

I’m not the first person outside of Korea to feel uncomfortable with this form of advertising. Many expats who live in Korea find it hard to swallow their students comments about their appearance.

These NAVER cafes are a way for women to talk about their surgery, recommend doctors and talk about their life has changed. I am Barbie Cafe features thousands of before and after photos with stories of how girls became models, or what it was like going on their first date after surgery. In essence these women tell how they are now valued and respected after their surgery. Is this honesty or a difference of perspective.

I also watched the tv show “Martian X files” it’s a variety show, similar to my strange addiction, one episode is about a girl who is addicted to plastic surgery and has what is dubbed in Korea as ‘Gangnam Face’ She said theirs no correlation between what men think about her and her surgeries and also that it was easy to save up for the surgeries through saving her money from her part time job. 

‘Gangnam face’ was coined due to a large number of women running around Gangnam, the Beverly Hills of Korea, with the same face. Large puffy eyes, a sharp pointed up nose and small jaw. These kinds of photos can be found online mocking girls who have gone to far. But from my perspective they’re not deranged girls, they’ve just a had a very strong reaction to the society they live in.


These moral lessons of ‘your life has improved because you’ve changed your appearance can be seen a lot in Korean media, with movies such as 200 Pound Beauty, the girl who was once fat and ugly undergoes plastic surgery and becomes a star and gets her man…..uplifting. (sarcasm)

The reason I chose different media types to discuss the issue is because I think the topic of why people get plastic surgery is diverse and depending on economic status and cultural background everyone has a different view.

As for my friend her confidence has improved and that makes me happy, come to think of it she didn’t even have a profile picture before her surgery, which was reflective of her confidence at the time. I think so many people judge girls for being vain or superficial but they’re just going with what society has told them is valuable.


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