Author: livlivdigc330

The Link Between Confucianism and Cosmetic Surgery in South Korea.


The New-Yorker and I have something in common, we’re both like to be know it alls, and have made the same link to the trend of cosmetic surgery in Korea has a lot to do with Confucianism.

The Teachings of Confucianism promote :

  • Zhōng (忠, loyalty)
  • Xiào (孝, filial piety)
  • Jié (節, continency)
  • (義, righteousness)

Just to simplify the following argument into 1500 words I chose to focus on these 4 ethical pillars of confucianism to correlate these Korean values back to the popularity of cosmetic surgery.

A common theme of all the interviews and blogs I have come across discussing surgery in Korea and with Korean people, is the notion that cosmetic surgery is improving yourself in Korea and there is a lack of connection to the human body. and because of it’s affordability in Korea. (As mentioned in the music video previously shown in my last blog, it…

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Why Do You Cut Yourself ? : A Further look into Cosmetic Surgery Culture in Korea


Week 9 and no written feedback in sight, here is my second blog post.

I’m feeling very beautiful, why not.

What does it mean to beautiful in Korea? Researcher and local layabout LivLiv is here to find out through the help of the internet. From an autoethnographic experience I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to change my face. For me the fact that I look like my parents makes me very happy and people often tell me my face is my best feature. Also coming from a Christian background I always believed it was righteous to accept the way I looked because that’s the way God made me. In the Western world we always emphasise inner beauty, however I can’t say I’ve ever seen peoples inner beauty be rewarded in a media manner, no one ever got on the front of vogue for being a ‘nice girl’.

In Australia, we…

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Cosmetic Surgery Show, Let Me In.


This short clip shows before and after life of a 20 year old Korean girl who was unsatisfied with her appearance.

the show is called let ME in because Mi

is the chinese symbol for beauty.

As you can see from the video the girls despite being her friends think it’s okay to give her the nick name “Oh-ee” or cucumber because of her previously long jaw, It’s a little shocking to me, wouldn’t calling your friend that cause her to have low confidence?

Although I do think the girls face looks very homogeneous and a bit fake now. it’s good that she got her confidence back and is having her fun shocking her ex boyfriend.

I think everyone who was an ugly duckling in school, fantasises about showing people who treated them harshly how beautiful they’ve become for me, watching this show is some kind of revenge voyeurism…

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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.




I’ve listened to your concerns,

I’m sorry I’ve been such a prude,

lets get more intimate guys.

So personally I’m fascinated with international politics and my Major is Asia Pacific Studies which I happen to love every single day of. So for me as I was watching Godzilla I was analysing the movie as a political move by Japan and in this blog post I wanted to compare it to the controversy of Japans bid


-Yeah you better be concerned how others see you girl, your prime minister Hideki Tojo got some splainin to do.

-Was this Japans first blockbuster, because they wanted some soft power back?

– Godzilla is a victim of Nuclear war just like the Japanese people… I see where you’re going with this.

I’m misunderstood too GOJI.

As I’ve learnt auto-ethnographically through my experience with Japanese people, i.e, through hosting…

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Godlivia : An ethnographic reflection of the 1954 Cult Classic, Godzilla.


Last semester I did JAPA217 which covered the history of Japan. For me Godzilla him/herself is a representation of the Nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The movie makes reference to this showing that the movie is set in a post-war Japan that is concerned with it’s international image and some secondary characters discuss escaping for Nagasaki. Godzilla leaves behind radiation and was also forced out of his home because of the testing of H bombs which helps the Japanese audience at the time relate to the movie and towards the end. the movie pushes themes of weaponary regression in order for the world to be a more peaceful society. This is interesting for me considering Japans re-militarisation has been in hot debate this year (see link below), while this movie was popular when it came out being the 8th grossing movie in Japan that year, perhaps Japan has moved…

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