Apgujeong is also the Ground Zero for Seoul’s notorious plastic surgery obsession, which is one of the most pervasive in the world. A surprising number of K-pop stars have cosmetic surgeons for fathers. Coincidence? Now plastic surgery has become one of the country’s top attractions:
On leaving the platform at Apgujeong station you are faced with a wall of advertisements for surgery. The most shocking thing for me was their slogans: “Beautiful appearance, beautiful soul”?? A woman with bad teeth and devil’s horns transformed into an angel with a beaming smile. “Just for you” with a picture of a glass slipper and the non-too-subtle “Change your life!”
I thought these ads were funny though, combining Korea’s twin obsessions with beauty and technology through the medium of emoticons. Until I realised what they were promising:
For more of Korea’s body obssessions, you can read Grand Narrative, an interesting sociology blog dedicated to representations of gender in Korean popular culture.
Cosmetic surgery is not all of Korea’s beauty obsession though. Koreans are famous in Asia for their complexions, and that is not surprising. Even Korean men pile on foundation (in fact Korea singlehandedly accounts for one quarter of the world’s male cosmetics market!) The new trend: snail cream, whereby people of both sexes slather pulverised snail’s entrails (rich in moisture!) on to their faces to keep them tight and toned.
I think I’ll stick with the plastic surgery.