For many Westerners, plastic surgery is considered a controversial topic – something to be whispered about or, worse, judged. But in South Korea, plastic surgery has become an increasingly normalized part of beauty and self-care. From 18-year-olds wanting a more slender face shape to elderly folk getting some nips and tucks here and there – cosmetic enhancements are perceived differently in Korea. With such popularity among Koreans, it begs the question – Is plastic surgery normal in South Korea? This article will explore how Korean beauty standards have changed and why citizens embrace plastic surgery as an accepted norm. 

Korean Beauty Standards: Is Plastic Surgery Normal?1. Historical Perspective on Beauty Standards

In the past, Korean beauty standards were influenced by traditional values. Physical beauty was associated with inner beauty, character, and virtue, with less emphasis on specific physical attributes. For example, a round, smooth forehead symbolized wisdom and longevity, while a generous, wide mouth represented kindness. These standards valued harmonious features, reflecting the Confucian principle of moderation. Beauty was not limited to appearance alone; it was intertwined with morality and character.

However, these traditional standards have undergone significant change in the wake of rapid modernization and Western influence following the Korean War. Today, popular beauty ideals in Korea lean more towards Western features, such as a smaller face, a v-shaped chin, larger eyes, and a higher nose bridge. This shift in beauty standards is one of the leading factors contributing to the normalization of plastic surgery in Korea.

2. Current beauty Standards in Korea

Today, current beauty standards in Korea, as dictated by society and media, have shifted towards more Westernized features. Even the Korean plastic surgery experts state that a small, slim face with a V-line jaw, double-lidded eyes, a high-bridged nose, and fair skin are highly sought-after traits. The popularity of K-pop and K-drama celebrities, who often embody these features, has further reinforced these beauty ideals. 

Plastic surgery, from minor procedures to major surgeries, is often seen as a way to achieve beauty standards. As a result, surgeries like blepharoplasty (double eyelid surgery), rhinoplasty (nose job), and jawline surgeries have become more common. Normalizing these enhancements shows how deeply these new beauty standards have influenced Korean society.

Korean Beauty Standards: Is Plastic Surgery Normal?3. Plastic Surgery as a Norm

In South Korea, plastic surgery is a societal norm driven by cultural acceptance and the pursuit of beauty standards. It’s common to receive cosmetic surgery as a graduation gift or to enhance job prospects. Plastic surgery clinics in major cities offer transformative procedures for improved self-esteem and social opportunities. 

This landscape reflects the acceptance and normalization of cosmetic enhancements in Korean society. The concept of “mi-in” or “beautiful person” is often associated with meeting contemporary beauty standards, and plastic surgery is a valid method to achieve this. It’s worth noting that while society may encourage these procedures, individual opinions can vary, with some Koreans opting for a more natural look and others criticizing the pressure to conform to a singular beauty ideal.

4. Impact on Korean Society

The normalization of plastic surgery in Korea has significantly impacted society. It has created a booming industry, with an estimated 1 million procedures yearly. The economic benefits are evident, with medical tourism becoming increasingly popular among foreigners seeking affordable and quality cosmetic enhancements.

However, striving for unattainable beauty standards has led to a rise in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and other mental health issues. The pressure to conform to certain beauty ideals can be overwhelming, especially for young Koreans influenced by media and societal expectations. Additionally, the normalization of plastic surgery perpetuates discrimination against those who don’t fit these standards, further dividing society.

5. Pros and Cons of Plastic Surgery

As with any industry, there are pros and cons to normalizing plastic surgery in Korea. On one hand, it has created a thriving market for cosmetic enhancements, providing job opportunities and boosting the economy. It has also allowed individuals to alter their appearance according to their desires and self-perception.

On the other hand, it can perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards and create social pressure to conform. It can also have negative physical and psychological effects, especially when procedures are not done safely or with proper consultation. Ultimately, the choice to undergo plastic surgery should be personal and free from societal pressures and expectations.

Korean Beauty Standards: Is Plastic Surgery Normal?6. The Future of Korean Beauty Standards 

As society continues to evolve, so too will beauty standards. While plastic surgery may remain a popular option for those seeking quick and dramatic changes, South Korea also has a growing movement toward embracing natural beauty and self-acceptance. With more diversity being celebrated in media and social movements promoting body positivity, the future of Korean beauty standards may become more inclusive and less focused on Westernized features.

Plastic surgery is now a normalized part of beauty standards in South Korea, influenced by societal pressures and Western culture. While it has benefits and drawbacks, it ultimately boils down to personal choice and acceptance of diversity. As society progresses, we hope for a more inclusive view of beauty that goes beyond physical appearance alone. Plastic surgery experts shape these standards, but individuals define their beauty and self-worth.

Health & Beauty