Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Face Shops!

From the advertisements on TV,  magazines and everywhere else, it's very obvious that the Korean society is obsessed with how one looks. It's really sad that this society judges one on how fair his or her skin is, how high and tailored the nose looks, or how one's face is shaped. The criteria also include one's weight and height. In this country, one's age or annual income may not be as confidential as how many kilos one tips on the weighing scale, or how many centimeters (not inches!) you hover above ground (or above everyone else!). Here, it's beauty over brains.

This is the reason why the cosmetic surgery industry in Korea flourishes, and these plastic surgery clinics earn (and a lot!) from one's insecurity, vanity, or from the pressure from society! 

And talking about these clinics, I was just passing through Sinsa Station in Gangnam-gu one morning and I was just amused by the billboards advertising these clinics that show the 'before' and 'after' appearances of some individuals, who, after their 'transformation', must have received a lot of compliments from their friends, or must have landed him or her some coveted employment.

But I also wondered, would I want to let people know how I looked like before my cosmetic surgery? Hmm. Would you?

As I went down the stairs and into the subway station, I could not escape these advertisements as the walls of the station were all covered with these, and all of them were very enticing! If I were looking for a plastic surgery clinic that day, I would have chosen one right at the stairs near Exit Number 2! Ha-ha-ha! 

And even on the subway platform, there were still posters, and even inside the train, there was one more! No one could ever escape them! 

The Sinsa-dong area is actually known for these clinics, and I am thinking of perhaps visiting one out of curiosity. I wonder what the doctor would want to 'transform' in my face? Ha-ha-ha!

Maybe, I could ask him to copy the nose or the chin of this or that Korean celebrity from a drama or some member of a k-pop boy band. By the way, most of the faces I see on Korean television may have been altered one way or another by just looking at the not-so-natural impression of their faces.

Last week, I read in the news of a death of a young Korean woman who died after undergoing plastic surgery. Geez. The price of a personal beautification project is not anymore quantified in Korean won, but is paid with one's life.

And sometimes, when I ride the subway, I can tell whether he or she has something altered. Sometimes, some surgeries are botched, one's face would now look like a Halloween mask. Others would have too many a surgery that her face now looks like a science project. I remember one night, while I was walking around my neighborhood in Hannam-dong, I saw a Korean woman, who must have been in her late 40s or early 50s, and I thought for a moment that she looked like the Korean version of Jocelyn Wildenstein. (If you don't know who she is, just Google her, and you'll find out what I'm talking about.) Even under limited lighting, that woman's face looked scary.

Generally, Koreans are good-looking, (although the most beautiful woman I saw in Korea was not Korean) but with these clinics that have turned into factories producing new, good-looking faces every day, it's getting difficult to guess which ones are natural or "Made in Sinsa-dong".  Did this obsession to look pretty and handsome come from the country's economic advancement which started a generation ago?

One married Korean friend once told me that once their baby was born, they would have to save money for their child's plastic surgery. Although I admire the couple for advance financial planning, I was shocked by their priorities. Until now, I guess not everyone believes that 'beauty is just skin deep'. And with the double-jaw surgery, where one's jaw and chin are painfully chiseled to achieve the preferred 'V'-line shaped face, beauty is now bone deep! I can't imagine the pain anyone would go through (and the money it would cost!) just to change his or her face, which reminds of the movie Face/Off, where Nicolas Cage switched faces with John Travolta, and just like a horribly botched surgery, one of them ended up dead.

But on that day at Sinsa Station, as I looked at those 'before' and 'after' faces, I could see that, to make them look a lot better in the 'after' photos, the lighting was brighter, the hair  and make-up were definitely done, and perhaps, some digital retouching was involved. No wonder many are enticed and convinced.  

On my next visit to the Sinsa-dong area, I am sure to see these big billboards again, and maybe, just maybe, out of curiosity, I should visit one of these 'face' shops and, well, shop for a new face. Ha-ha-ha! :-)


  1. Interesting topic.. I read till the very last end.hehehe,, But for me,natural beauty is the best and I appreciate what God gave me...

  2. Insightful post :) All the while I thought that you would be writing about the famous Korean cosmetic store heehee

    I also agree that Koreans are already beautiful. To begin with, most of them are blessed with a light, fair and clear skin.

    Honestly, I have nothing against these "salamat dok" procedures. If you believe that a nose lift, double eyelid surgery can give you more confidence.. then by all means do it. If it can be your key to feel good and be successful, I have nothing against. However, when people tend to overdo it... that's a different story already. Moreso, when people tend to condition themselves that beauty is above everything else... that's again another misconception to address.

    I'm just wondering how Koreans treat and perceive actors and actresses after knowing that these people underwent some procedures. In our country, we all know it's always a different case.

    1. Having cosmetics surgery here is like a badge of honor, especially if one's nose gets clipped and the chin now points sharply towards the ground.

  3. Good read! I pity Korean teens suffering through so much pressure! Filipinos are also pretty critical of looks but at least not to the extent that one would undergo plastic surgery!

  4. I thought this entry will feature the famous cosmetic brand. Anyway, it's worth reading! A friend told me just the same! BTW! She is a Korean and she has this broad mind. :D

    PS. I like your blog already! I'll come here very often! :D