The Impact Of Physical Appearance In Korean Society

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Introduction Within these past few decades, the southern half of the Korean peninsula, more formally known as The Republic of South Korea, has transformed into one of the most developed countries in the world. Its economy and advancements in technology have been subject to mass improvements and have contributed to the country’s development. But a major change is to be noticed within the society and culture. The social practices and the mentality to “fit in” have become a main preoccupation of its people. The pursuit for success and wealth has transformed the mass population of South Korea into adopting an ideal that “with beauty comes prosperity”. The people of this once predominantly Confucian nation have transposed their previous ideals and societal standards regarding physical appearance. Through the assistance of today’s modern advancements, a plethora of methods have allowed for the citizens of South Korea to intentionally alter their physical appearance. Families and individuals are taking any possible measure to make sure that their exterior appearance is on par with the standards of Korean society. Personally growing up within this culture, I have always considered the question as to why physical appearance is so heavily emphasized and regarded. I understand that beauty is an important factor within any society, but the extent to which it is exploited within the Korean culture and society is unparalleled. From my personal experiences, I have seen friends and family members receive plastic surgery in order to alter their appearance. Rather than finding fault in their actions, I criticized the negative effects that Korean society and culture had on them. The extent to which beauty is so precious within my culture upsets me... ... middle of paper ... ...y within South Korean culture has become so great and common that according to Ms. Chang,(a plastic surgery patient), the “…[eye surgery] is not even considered surgery…” (qtd. in Choe “closet”). She is referring to the fact that eye surgery is one of the most basic, and insignificant surgeries one could get to improve their looks; it is so common and minuscule, that it does not even constitute as a “major” surgery to her, as well as the public. Thus, the term “the basics” (which include an eyelid surgery to create larger eyes and a nose job to create a longer thinner nose) was conjured by the Korean people to classify these two very common procedures (Willet). The shift in beauty standards and the willingness to change is crucial in understanding the reason and justification to the extent to which the Korean people have altered their values on outwards appearance.
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