K-pop and Plastic Surgery
As I was browsing the internet this week, I came across quite a few articles about how popular Korean dramas like Jewel in the Palace are partially responsible for a recent plastic surgery epidemic across Asia. Apparently many women envy the facial features of popular Korean actresses and are flooding plastic surgeons with requests for operations to create higher-bridged noses and add a fold to eyelids to make the eyes look larger (apparently these Western-style features tend to be more common in Koreans). Surgeons report that women come in with photos of their favorite actresses - like Lee Young-ae of Jewel in the Palace - and ask to look more like them. The situation also isn't helped by the fact that many Korean pop stars openly admit that they've had plastic surgery to become more attractive in order to please their fans, and this has left many people under the impression that all stars have had surgery.
While many women have had successful operations, doctors report that often their patients' expectations are much higher than is reasonable. Also, many of the surgeries are performed by uncertified doctors since there are not enough qualified plastic surgeons to meet demand. This naturally has resulted in many botched operations which have left patients permanently disfigured.
I thought this was an interesting result of the hallyu wave, since plastic surgery is still regarded negatively by many people in the Western world even though we are surrounded by the same barrage of images of beautiful people. When considering recent efforts to increase nationalism in Asian countries with the increase in globalism, it is also concerning that so many fans are physically altering themselves to look more Western. Following are a few links to articles about plastic surgery in Korea, China, and Japan, with short descriptions of what they are about.
TIME - "Changing Faces" TIME reports on the wave of plastic surgery across Asia and the importance of physical beauty in society. It also recounts some personal stories of those who have had very successful operations and the devastating effects it's had on patients whose operations were unsuccessful.
Wall Street Journal - "Korea's Hip Makeover Changes Face of Asia" This article reports on how Chinese and Japanese are flooding Seoul to get plastic surgery after becoming fans of Korean dramas and music artists.
Chosun.com - "Korea Becomes Regional Plastic Surgery Hub" This article reports that the week after the premier of Jewel in the Palace in China, women flooded plastic surgeons with requests to look more like Lee Young-ae (the actress who portrays Jang Geum).
BBC - "South Korea's Cosmetic Surgery Boom" The BBC reports on how plastic surgery is booming in S. Korea and becoming more socially acceptable due to surgeries by pop stars and plastic surgery's exposure on television.