Do koreans have body hair

Do koreans have body hair DEFAULT

Why South Korean women are reclaiming their short hair

By Yvette Tan and Waiyee Yip
BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

When South Korean archer An San won three Olympic gold medals in Tokyo, what greeted her back home wasn't just praise. There was a flood of criticism as well.

Why? Because she has short hair.

Among the many insults that flew her way, An was labelled a feminist - a loaded term in South Korea often associated with being a man-hater.

One man said in a post: "It's good she got a gold but her short hair makes her seem like she's a feminist. If she is, I withdraw my support. All feminists should die."

But as criticism of her grew, so did a campaign to defend her.

Thousands of women across the country began posting pictures of themselves with short hair - declaring that it did not make them any less of a woman.

Women in South Korea have long battled discrimination and misogyny but over the last decade have made steps forward, from the country's #MeToo campaign to the abolition of its abortion ban.

So will this latest movement do anything to propel further change?

'It doesn't make me less of a woman'

Han Jiyoung is the woman at the heart of the short hair campaign on Twitter, and created it under the hashtag #women_shortcut_campaign.

She told the BBC she was troubled when she saw "not one or two, but [many] misogynistic comments [about An] coming up on every male-dominated online community."

These anti-feminists are largely young men, but also include older men and even some women.

"This kind of mass attack... sends the message that men can control the female body and a message that females need to hide their feminist identity," she said.

"I thought starting a campaign for women to [show off] their short hair and to show solidarity to female Olympians would be effective in tackling both issues."

Tens of thousands of images began pouring in - many women showing before and after images of themselves with their long and short hair. Others said An San's hair inspired them to go out and get haircuts themselves.

But why is short hair associated with being a feminist?

Hawon Jung, author of an upcoming book on South Korea's #MeToo movement, said the two were seen as intertwined after the "Cut the Corset" movement in 2018, where young women challenged long-held beauty ideals by wearing short haircuts and no makeup.

"Since then, short cropped hair has become something of a political statement among many young feminists," the author added.

"This feminist awakening [drew] a strong backlash by men who thought they had gone too far."

Image source, Getty Images

A contentious finger gesture

The short hair campaign comes just weeks after another aggressive campaign against "feminists".

This controversy surrounded a finger gesture, which some men claimed mimicked a feminist hand signal belittling their penis size.

The gesture - involving the thumb and index finger pinched close together - was the logo of Megalia, the now-defunct radical feminist online community widely perceived to be anti-male.

Brands including convenience store GS 25 and fried chicken chains BBQ Genesis and Kyochon were forced to remove print ads containing the gesture earlier this year, following boycott calls.

Image source, Screenshot from Instagram

Although the companies likely never intended to make any political statement it spawned a "witch hunt" of sorts among men to find any images that looked remotely similar and have them removed.

"Some men became fixated on the image because they associate it with a particular brand of feminism that they claim demeans and belittles them," said Dr Judy Han, a gender studies professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

At times, the outrage became so loud that companies were driven to apologise.

GS 25 President Cho Yoon-sung, for example, was demoted over the ad - even though he apologised for causing "pain" and said the firm would investigate those involved in the design of a poster featuring the gesture and a sausage.

Image source, Screenshot from Instagram

Experts say that such apologies only further emboldened these angry men.

"They moved on to the next target - An San, a young Olympian who seemed to epitomise many of the things they hated," said Ms Jung.

"She had short hair. She went to a women's college. She used some of the expressions these online mobs had somehow defined as 'misandrist expressions' for no clear reason."

The anger of these online mobs - mostly comprising young men - largely stems from the fact that they believe women's success comes at their expense.

"Male-dominated online communities teach young men that all of their suppression is coming from women - for example that they are stealing their seats by performing better in tests," said Ms Han.

Competition for university places and jobs in South Korea is fierce, and some men say they have been unfairly disadvantaged.

For instance, all men have to undergo 18 months of military service which they say delays their chances of getting ahead. There are also more than a dozen women-only universities - with several offering highly sought-after courses - and no male equivalent.

But the reality is women in South Korea earn only 63% of men's salaries - one of the highest pay gaps among developed nations. The Economist glass ceiling index also ranks the country as the worst developed nation in which to be a working woman.

So what lies ahead for South Korean women - and are we likely to see any real change as a result of the latest campaign?

"[I think] there has already been real change in the last couple of years," said Ms Jung.

"Women are trying to chart new paths for their lives and defying societal pressure to look a certain conventionally 'female' way - to have the freedom to choose whatever hairstyle they find most comfortable - that is one small part of it."

Additional reporting by BBC Korean 's Serin Ha

More on this story


16 Facts About South Korea That Foreigners Have Never Heard Of

Every tourist knows that South Korea is like a whole other planet. And while some things are obvious right away (for example, some exotic foods), others are things are known only by those who have experienced living there. This includes beauty standards, how children are raised, and college educations.

We at Bright Side dove into the Korean lifestyle and found curious habits, rules, and traditions and decided to tell you about them.

1. Korean women sit with blankets on their knees.

Many Korean women put blankets on their laps, even when it is warm inside and outside. K-pop idols, TV show guests, and regular people use them in cafes, restaurants, and other public places. They do it in order to not reveal anything when wearing a mini skirt and also protect their private space because a blanket is a symbol of modesty.

2. Women cover their mouths when laughing.

In the past, girls were taught that laughing was not very feminine. When something made them laugh, they would look away or try to conceal their smiles (now, they only do the latter). If you see a Korean woman covering her mouth, she is probably laughing and not yawning.

3. V- and S-lines are valued in women’s bodies

A V-line is a pointy chin. It is believed to be the best for both girls and guys because it makes them look more elegant. An S-line is the outline of the female body, a more slender version of the hourglass body shape. If a Korean man says that you have beautiful V- and S-lines, it means he likes your chin and your body.

4. All drivers have to do alcohol tests.

In the evening, often on Fridays and Saturdays, Korean policemen block one side of the road and check all the drivers, except taxi drivers. When you see a patrol car, you have to pull over, open the window, and do an alcohol test.

Fines are paid depending on the concentration of alcohol in your blood: 0.05-0.10 per mille is $1,400—$2,800. They say that you can drink only 400 milliliters of beer or a shot of soju.

5. You don’t have to stay inside during the rainy season.

The monsoon season in Korea starts in July-August. Sometimes there are floods during this period. But cars still drive and people walk knee-deep in water, but under an umbrella. The worst thing that can happen to a Korean woman is if she gets her hair wet.

6. They have very good food in their hospitals.

Every day, in regular Korean hospitals, they serve different foods, and clam soups are accompanied by traditional appetizers, such as marinated rice, vegetable pancakes, and kimchi.

7. The academic year starts in March and students fight for the right to be in lectures.

Before the start of college, students are required to do a special training with the faculty. In 2 days and one night, the first-years have to learn the history of the college and get to know each other. But according to the students, this is just a cover-up: older students are actually teaching the younger generation how to have fun and still be able to study the next morning.

Koreans choose the courses they want to study and make their own schedules. The number of seats in lectures is limited: there can be from 60 to 100 people competing at the same time for one seat. But the most popular classes are filled in a matter of minutes, so you have to be very fast. You can sign up for these classes on campus or in a computer club where you can eat, study, and play.

8. They sell K-pop idols instead of Barbie dolls

K-pop singers are so popular you can buy a small replica of them in any store. Above you can see the members of the band BTS.

9. Thrifty tourists can stay in a sauna

Korean public baths or saunas are called jjimjilbang. They are open 24/7 and it costs only $7 to come in. This is why tourists who come to the country for a short period of time try to stay in the saunas and the locals come here to restore their energy after work or after a big party. At the entrance, they put on yangmeori, or sheep’s head, which are towels that you put on your head. Inside, there are also couches and playrooms for children.

10. Koreans don’t talk to the opposite sex if they are in a relationship.

In South Korea, most people don’t believe that men and women can be friends. So, when a guy and a girl start a relationship, they can no longer see their friends of the opposite sex.

11. They celebrate the day of love on November 11.

The holiday is called Pepero Day — it was named after sweet breadsticks with different icing and they celebrate it on 11/11. Lovers give each other these sticks and play: they bite the stick from different ends and the one who has a little part left wins. These gifts can not only be given to loved ones, but also to friends and relatives.

It is believed that the holiday was made up by Lotte, which produces these sticks. Anyway, this holiday has completely become part of the culture.

12. Korean men won’t date a girl that is not as thin as he is.

In South Korea, you are not going to see a couple where a girl is taller or bigger than a guy. There is a set of very strict rules when choosing a partner. No matter how good of a person a potential partner is, a guy won’t date a girl that is heavier than him. Girls don’t date guys that are shorter than them. Besides, age and blood type also matter.

13. Koreans love to keep their hands warm.

If you go to a Korean hairdresser, a beauty salon, or some other place, you will probably be offered a hand warmer. Even if there is a good heating system in the building.

14. In schools, they have a parent patrol.

Every day, 2 parents inspect the schools: they watch the educational process and make sure everything is alright. Also, parents taste the school food in order to see how well their children are fed. When fathers and mothers patrol the school, they put on the uniform, and they have a schedule of things to do and when they should do them. There is also a special room where they can rest during their break.

15. Korean parents always follow their children.

Very often, in Korean families, the fathers work and the mothers raise the children: and they dive into this process so deeply that they lose their own lives and personalities. It doesn’t matter what their child does, the mother always has to take an active part in everything.

A blogger that has been living in Korea for a long time tells this story, “Before, my daughter used to go to the mountains alone and now I have to go with her everywhere.” She was asked recently, “Is it true that you are not adopted?” Koreans think that a real mother can’t be that indifferent to her children and let them go out on their own." After this, the blogger had to accompany her daughter everywhere, even to the shooting of the show that her daughter starred in.

16. They don’t need total silence and darkness to sleep.

Korean children are not put in beds in perfectly quiet and dark rooms. They are taught to fall asleep in light and noisy rooms, because this is a way to make their nervous system stronger. When they become adults, they can restore some energy, even if they only have a little bit of time, like for example when they are on a train or a bus. Koreans can sleep pretty much anywhere, in any conditions.

Which of these things would you like to have in your country?

Preview photo credit ARIRANG K-POP / YouTube


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Korean beauty standards

Korean beauty standards have become a well-known feature of Korean culture. In 2015, a global survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons placed South Korea in the top ten of countries who had the highest rate of cosmetic surgeries.[1] Korean beauty standards prioritize a slim figure, small face, v-shaped jaw, pale skin, straight eyebrows, flawless skin, and larger eyes. Beauty standards for the eyes include aegyo-sal, which is a term used in Korea referring to the small fatty deposits underneath the eyes that are said to give a person a more youthful appearance. East Asian blepharoplasty is a surgery to create double eyelids (creates upper eyelid with a crease) which makes the eyes appear larger. Korean beauty standards have been influenced largely by those in the media, including actresses, TV personalities, and K-pop stars. The physical appearance of K-pop idols has greatly impacted the beauty standards in Korea.[2]

K-pop idols with slim bodies and pale skin
Physical appearances (slim body and pale skin) of K-pop idols impact Korean beauty standards

Cultural pressure[edit]

A study from 2020 determined that 20 percent of young Korean girls have undergone cosmetic surgery. This is significantly above the average rate in other countries.[3] A more recent survey from Gallup Korea in 2015 determined that approximately one-third of South Korean women between 19 and 29 have claimed to have had plastic surgery.[4] A study from 2009 found that Korean women are very critical of their body image and are more prone to lower self-esteem and self-satisfaction compared to women from the United States.[5]

In South Korea, there is immense societal pressure to conform to the community and societal expectations placed on the individual. This is evident in the theorization of what influences both Korean men and women to want to strive to achieve a strict beauty standard. A study by Lin and Raval from Miami University shows that the pressure for the “perfect” appearance may stem from feelings of inferiority from the community if they perceive themselves as less attractive.[6] The result from this particular study supports the previous evidence from Keong Ja Woo, who analyzed how beauty standards in Korea, in regard to one’s height, weight, and facial preference, impacted their chances of employment.[7]

The pressure to uphold a standard of beauty is even felt within the job market. Companies require a photo, height, and sometimes the family background of applicants as a part of the hiring process.[8] Beauty is often seen as a means for socioeconomic success in the rapidly modernized post-war economy of South Korea, which has seen a sluggish job growth rate after its economic boom. This has left Korea with a highly skilled and educated workforce competing for a short supply of job opportunities and chances for upward social mobility. Some Koreans view investments in beauty, such as cosmetic products and medical beauty treatments, such as plastic surgery, dermatology, and cosmetic dentistry, as a means of cultural capital to get an edge over peers for social and economic advancement.[9]

Although the theorization of the impact of Western beauty standards for the Korean society is highly controversial, there has been convincing data which demonstrates this effect. There are rigid expectations for South Korean women to have large eyes and a thin, high nose bridge which is arguably a trait that is representative of Caucasian women.[10] In addition to this, Jung and Lee observed that there were more models that conformed to more Caucasian features in South Korean magazines than that of U.S. magazines.[11] Countless studies depict the unfortunate psychosocial impact of these beauty standards that adhere to Western features as South Korean women were found to have a higher risk of body dysmorphia, dislike for their body, higher likelihood of eating disorders which were accompanied by depression, low self-esteem, and stress.[12] Understanding Body Image and Appearance Management Behaviors among Adult Women in South Korea within a Sociocultural Context: A Review. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 9(2), 96–122.</ref>

In addition, since South Korea has seen more than a twenty-fold increase in real per capita income and is currently ranked within the top twenty economies in the world with continual growth, there has been a paralleled increase in visibility for women's rights within the country.[13] However, with this growth in visibility and social change for women, there is an interesting observation that this change is "immediately accompanied by increases in body dissatisfaction and eating disorders".[14] This could be explained by a sociocultural theory, namely, Objectification theory, that asserts:

"Any movement toward gender equality that threatens the stability of the patriarchy is followed inevitably by a heightened emphasis on unrealistic beauty standards and increasing pressure to meet these standards. Such pressure may be effectively applied as a means to oppress women and maintain patriarchal control, as unrealistic standards such as these undermine women's self-confidence and materially shift their focus away from their individual capabilities to more generalized and superficial aspects of their physical appearance."[15]

Other cultural factors such as the hardened Confucianism in Korean society has been quoted as a prominent factor. Majority of the Confucius philosophy created the gender roles and norms in Korea, which some of his teachings has been sustained even through modern Korea. The emphasis on gender roles, with women being submissive and men being dominant, caused a patriarchal society from these philosophical teachings which may have had an impact on the beauty standard.[16] Women are more likely to examine and make changes to their bodies and face in order to adhere to the beauty standards projected by the objectification theory that views women as “objects”.[17] This raises the observation that impractical beauty standards could be caused by highly patriarchal societies that only promote unbending gender roles which is then reflected by the influence of Confucianism in Korean history. There could be another cultural factor such as certain facial features leading to bad luck encourages the Korean individual to plastic surgery.[18]

Beauty products[edit]

Main article: Cosmetics in Korea

In 2015 South Korea exported more than $2.64 billion of cosmetic goods[19] compared to around $1.91 billion in 2014.[20] Some of the most popular products used in Korean beauty are blemish balm (BB) creams, color correction (CC) creams, serums, essences, ampoules, seaweed face masks, and scrubs.[21] Korean beauty products contain ingredients not commonly found in Western products such as snail extract. In 2011, BB cream, which was previously only found in China, hit the shelves in America, and by 2014, the US market for BB cream was around $164 million.

Plastic surgery[edit]

Example of Korean double eyelid surgery
Example of Korean double-eyelid surgery

Plastic surgery in South Korea is not stigmatized and is even a common graduation gift.[22] The appeal of East Asian blepharoplasty, the most common cosmetic procedure in South Korea, is largely attributed to the influence of Western culture. Western beauty ideals extend beyond the eyes to face shape. As individuals of East Asian descent often have a flatter facial bone structure (in comparison to those of European descent), facial bone contouring surgeries are also quite popular.[23] V-line surgery (jaw and chin reduction) and cheekbone (zygoma) reduction surgeries are used to change the facial contour. These surgeries are espeically common amongst celebrities who are often required to undergo these changes in their cheekbones, jaw, and chin with the ultimate goal being to create an oval face.

Motivation for plastic surgery has been debated throughout Korean society. Holliday and Elfving-Hwang suggest that the pressure of success in work and marriage is deeply rooted in the one’s ability to manage their body which is influenced by beauty.[24] As companies helping with matchmaking for marriage and even job applications require a photo of the individual, it is inevitable that the Korean population feels pressure to undergo plastic surgery to achieve the “natural beauty”.[25]

South Korea has also seen an increase in medical tourism from people who seek surgeon expertise in facial bone contouring. Korean surgeons have advanced facial bone contouring with procedures like the osteotomy technique[26][27] and have published the first book on facial bone contouring surgeries.[28] There was a 17 percent increase in the sales of cosmetic surgery from 1999 to 2000, reaching almost ₩170 billion (South Korean won) which is $144 million US dollars.[29]

History of Plastic Surgery[edit]

David Ralph Millard, who graduated from Yale College and Harvard Medical School, had been employed by the U.S. Marine Corps as the chief plastic surgeon in South Korea.[30] Desiring a similar path to his mentor, Sir Harold Gillies, he wanted to provide reconstructive plastic surgery for wounded soldiers, children, and other civilians that were injured by the Korean War. Millard was observing ways to perform reconstructive surgeries on burn victims in order to reforming eyebrows on the patients in which he had an unusual interest to the study of the eye, the eye socket, and the eyelid fold.[31]

He wanted to modify the structure of the “oriental” eye into a more “western” look. Millard was unable to find a consenting patient until a Korean translator requested undergo the operation for eyes that had a more “round appearance”, stating that the “because of the squint in his slant eyes, Americans could not tell what he was thinking and consequently did not trust him” in which Millard agreed with his sentiment.[32] Millard then found inspiration to pave the way to conduct his own research on performing double-eyelid surgery when he could not find any journals translated in English.

Although the double-eyelid surgery was already performed in small bulks in Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea, Millard’s incorporation had changed the motivation and techniques for plastic surgery in Korea. Millard stated he wanted to reduce the “Asian-ness” by making a higher nose bridge by implanting more cartilage to the nose and widening the eyes by tearing the inner fold of the eye for a look of a longer eye, removed the fat in the eyelid that causes the monolid, and sutured the skin on the eyelid to create the double-eyelid fold.[33] There were many plastic surgeries of this nature performed on various Koreans during this era and before he left the country, trained numerous local doctors on his techniques.

Free the corset movement[edit]

After the #MeToo movement, when women shared their sexual assault and harassment stories, Korean women started to question their beauty standards and created the free the corset movement. Its name comes from the idea that societal oppression of women is like being bound in a corset. Korean women have taken to social media in a backlash against unrealistic beauty standards that requires them to spend hours applying makeup and performing extensive skincare regimes, which often involve ten steps or more.[34] Some Korean women have destroyed their makeup, cut their hair, and rejected the pressures of getting surgery.[34][35] The purpose of the movement is to create space for Korean women to feel comfortable with themselves and not have social pressures limit their identity.[36] Critics of the movement think that women can make their own choices to wear makeup or not.[37]

Male beauty standards[edit]

While expectations of female beauty usually outweigh male expectations, South Korea is notable for the standards placed on men. South Korea has become one of the beauty capitals of the world for male beauty. Dissimilar to the West, it is still a misconception that the South Korean beauty industry exclusively focuses on women. Make-up is not seen as a gendered product and South Korea itself is proud to advertise many brands and products that are available to men. One of the reasons for this standard is the Korean Pop music culture or K-Pop. In the Western hemisphere, the population has a different understanding when it comes to the attractiveness of males.

It is very common for Korean men to care about a clear, smooth and fair skin. It is also usual to dye and style hair on regular basis.[38] The body shape is expected to appear rather androgyne than too muscular. Men wear sharply stylish cut outfits and double eyelids are really common as a result of cosmetic surgery. Korean men often choose to get surgery to achieve a higher nose along with smaller and slender facial features.[39]

‘Over the past decade South Korean men have become the world's biggest male spenders on skincare and beauty products.’ Between 2011 and 2017, the market grew by 44%. [40] South Koreas's cosmetics industry earns nearly $10 billion in annual sales. The industry is trying to expand its appeal to young men in their twenties. The cosmetic companies’ marketing teams have also developed strategies to win new costumers for their always changing product lines. Major sports events such as baseball games air advertisements for skincare due to the large attendance of potential customers making it a good commercial opportunity to do so.

In a country where military service is mandatory for all men, even this is used to lure prospective costumer. A South Korean-based company has released a line of face paint for active duty soldiers that include tealeaf extract to sooth and cool the skin.[41]

The general Western conception of males wearing make-up could be mistaken as an act of rebellion against the society rather than a beauty standard. Nevertheless, this seems to be changing due to the influence of Korean beauty standards not only because of K-Pop's, ‘perfect brows and flawless skin’ [40] which is one of the new beauty standards even for the west.


  1. ^"ISAPS International Survey on Aesthetic/Cosmetic Procedures Performed in 2015 |"(PDF). isaps org. Archived from the original(PDF) on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  2. ^"Unrealistic Beauty Standards: Korea's Cosmetic Obsession". 26 March 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  3. ^Holliday, Ruth; Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (1 June 2012). "Gender, Globalization and Aesthetic Surgery in South Korea". Body & Society. 18 (2): 58–81. doi:10.1177/1357034X12440828. ISSN 1357-034X. S2CID 146609517.
  4. ^"Meet the South Korean women rejecting intense beauty standards". South China Morning Post. Associated Press. 5 February 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  5. ^Jung, J. (2006). "Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Appearance Self-Schema, Body Image, Self-Esteem, and Dieting Behavior Between Korean and U.S. Women". Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal. 34 (4): 350–365. doi:10.1177/1077727X06286419.
  6. ^Lin, K. L., & Raval, V. V. (2020). Understanding Body Image and Appearance Management Behaviors among Adult Women in South Korea within a Sociocultural Context: A Review. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 9(2), 96–122.
  7. ^Woo, K. J. (2004). The Beauty Complex and the Plastic Surgery Industry. Korea Journal, 44, 52– 82.
  8. ^Maguire, Ciaran. "Stress dominates every aspect of life in South Korea". The Irish Times. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
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  11. ^Jung, J., & Lee, Y. J. (2009). Cross-cultural Examination of Women’s Fashion and Beauty Magazine Advertisements in the United States and South Korea. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 27, 274–286.
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  18. ^Lin, K. L., & Raval, V. V. (2020). Understanding Body Image and Appearance Management Behaviors among Adult Women in South Korea within a Sociocultural Context: A Review. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 9(2), 96–122.
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  22. ^Marx, Patricia. "The World Capital of Plastic Surgery". The New Yorker. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
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  30. ^Kurek, L. (2015). Eyes Wide Cut: The American Origins of Korea’s Plastic Surgery Craze: South Korea’s Obsession with Cosmetic Surgery can be traced back to an American Doctor, Raising Uneasy Questions about Beauty Standards. The Wilson Quarterly, 39(4).
  31. ^Kurek, L. (2015). Eyes Wide Cut: The American Origins of Korea’s Plastic Surgery Craze: South Korea’s Obsession with Cosmetic Surgery can be traced back to an American Doctor, Raising Uneasy Questions about Beauty Standards. The Wilson Quarterly, 39(4).
  32. ^Kurek, L. (2015). Eyes Wide Cut: The American Origins of Korea’s Plastic Surgery Craze: South Korea’s Obsession with Cosmetic Surgery can be traced back to an American Doctor, Raising Uneasy Questions about Beauty Standards. The Wilson Quarterly, 39(4).
  33. ^Kurek, L. (2015). Eyes Wide Cut: The American Origins of Korea’s Plastic Surgery Craze: South Korea’s Obsession with Cosmetic Surgery can be traced back to an American Doctor, Raising Uneasy Questions about Beauty Standards. The Wilson Quarterly, 39(4).
  34. ^ abPressigny, Clementine de; Chan, Keira (30 October 2018). "why a new generation of women are challenging south korea's beauty standards".
  35. ^Alejo, Aubrey (28 November 2018). "Koreans Are Ditching Beauty Standards to Escape The Corset". MEGA.
  36. ^"A corset-free movement". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  37. ^Bizwire, Korea. ""Free Corset" Movement Gathers Steam".
  38. ^Balen, Cara. "Gendered Beauty: How South Korea is challenging our perception of male beauty standards". London Runaway. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  39. ^B., Elsa. "What are the beauty standards for men in South Korea?". Kpopstarz. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  40. ^ abThe Thaiger. "Will the West embrace the South Korean male beauty product industry?". The Thaiger. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  41. ^Shim, Elizabeth. "South Korean men buying into cosmetics craze, wearing makeup to improve image". UPI NewsTrack. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
Korean Hair Waxing Trend - Wishtrend

Why Body and Facial Hair are Undesirable Traits in South Korea

There’s an entire month out of the year where East Asian men are forced to confront their own Asianness.

It’s a month called November — that is, 30 days out of the year where men are encouraged to grow out their facial hair for a good cause. How they’re related, we don’t really know; there’s “No Shave November”, which encourages men to grow hair for American Cancer Society. Then there’s “Movember”, an organization started in Australia, which promotes prostate cancer awareness.

While 30 days come and go, with the American population of guys flaunting their scruffy ‘staches and bushy beards all over social media, 99% of East Asian guys like me sit on the sidelines and awkwardly wait, hoping and praying for our upper lip fur to sprout (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).

As a Korean American, I actually have the capacity of growing more facial hair than the average East Asian dude. That’s like, 30 hairs instead of three. At the end of two weeks of no shaving, my face looks as if it’s been replaced by actual pubic hairs. Not the soft, shiny, fluffy pubes, either — I’m talking about prepubescent prickly strands that resemble a dead rat’s coffin at its funeral.

Which is interesting being in Seoul. Here, men seem to be allergic to any semblance of body hair. One walk around the streets of Seoul will prove just how clean shaven, smooth, and youthful-looking Seoulites are. The standard of beauty for Korean men is a clean complexion, moisturized skin, and free of wrinkles. Body and facial hair, therefore, are something almost grotesque; features that make a man barbaric. It reminds me of an interview from 2011 with the Kpop star G.O., the leader of the now disbanded MBLAQ. In an interview, he revealed just how insecure he was with his facial hair — so much so, he debated getting laser surgery to remove it completely.

MBLAQ Facial Hair

“I became a slave to that facial hair,”he admitted. “When I went on variety shows, I only got to talk about facial hair. I also have a lot of hair on my chest, so whenever I’d wear V-neck shirts, people joked that I could clean the floor with it.”

The adverse feelings towards facial and body hair are only buttressed by the messaging found throughout men’s grooming sections in retailers. When I visited one called Olive Young, I was intrigued by the amount of products designed to get rid of hair. There was an entire top shelf full of leg trimmers, for instance, each of them marketed with cartoons depicting women reacting to men with leg hair. On one, the ‘before’ illustration had a red-headed woman scrutinizing a man’s hairy legs and screaming “NOOOOOOOOOH!!!!” The ‘after’ was of a man with hairless, smooth legs with the same red-headed woman fawning over him. “It’s Cool!!!!” she cooed. Another product next to it had a similar illustration. A blonde woman said “no thanks” to a hairy man but accepted the smooth guy, saying “I love it!”

It’s all utterly ridiculous, of course, but it’s oddly refreshing to know that my natural smooth body is finally seen as sexy somewhere. That I’m the standard of beauty. After years of being insecure at my rather hairless complexion and body, it’s a strange feeling to know that my Asianness, in all its hairless glory, is not only accepted but perceived as sexy. Ali Wong was onto something when she described her furless husband as being sexy AF. “It’s like having sex with a dolphin,” she joked.

Through it all, I’ve concluded this: beauty is relative. Whether you’re the furriest of bears or the most polished of twinkle-toed twinks; whether you can grow the burliest of beards for Movember or become the smoothest of Kpop stars, it all doesn’t matter. What does is how you practice self-acceptance and love. Because when you carry that confidence with you it shows. And that’s sexy, no matter the culture, place, or standard of beauty, or if, like me, you have all of 30 whiskers.

Editors Note: This article originally appeared on and was republished with permission.

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Koreans have hair do body

Why Koreans Don’t Have Beard? | 5 Reasons You Should Know!

Do Korean men even need razors? Think K-drama, Think BTS. Keep reading to find out why Koreans don’t have a beard. Or do they just prefer not to keep one?

Korean men have the tendency to age slower and that is directly proportional to how slow their beards reach full growth. Korean men can grow facial hair, but why did the ‘lather, shave, repeat’ become an everyday thing in Korean men’s lives?

Why Koreans Don’t Have Beard

Can Korean men even grow facial hair?

After that intro, I bet you wondered whether the Korean men’s ability to grow facial hair is questionable. In all honesty, they can grow beards. They do have facial hair on their faces like every other man in the world, albeit quite sparse. 

How much do Korean genetics and history play a role in growing facial hair? 

I started to think that their past had a little bit to do with this. I have seen pictures of Korean emperors and I was quite confused. Must’ve been an evolutionary thing I thought.

The way the beard is viewed amongst Korean men changed over centuries. Generally noticed, Asian men have always had lighter beards than men from Western countries. The amount of testosterone and DHT produced in Asian men is much lower than in men from the west.

We could attribute evolution to that. During the migratory period, people’s bodies began to adapt to where they lived. People who lived in colder regions developed hair over the body to deal with the cold, and people in regions with a more moderate climate, Korea for instance, did not.

The change can be seen over three periods. The Joseon Era in the 14th century, Gwangmu Era from 1897 to the 1900s and the period after that. In the deep Jaeson era, it was an offensive thing to harm any part of the body, even hair. SO removing body hair or any hair on the body was out of question. That’s why in the photos of Korean history, you can see that Korean men had beards. 

With the advent of the Gwangmu Era, the modernization of Korea began. People started seeing the benefits of a Westernized culture and that took to the beards as well. A westernized military-style look was adopted. Suddenly everyone was cleanly shaven.

After the colonisation in the 1900s, even though this shit to modernization happened, a large section of the older population preferred to keep a moustache as favoured by Emperor Meiji. It is still okay for older men in Korea to keep a moustache. 

In fact, in some deep parts of Korea, it is found almost disrespectful to not have a moustache when the elder of the family has one. Respect for the elders is an understandably important thing in Korean culture. So having a beard can be a thing of rebellion and not having a beard can be called shamelessness.

Yeah, it’s quite the controversy.

Fear of judgement from other Koreans for growing a beard

Now, being cleanly shaven in Korea is associated with being young, successful, smart and intelligent. This whole notion is popularized by the media. If You’d look at any popular K-drama. You’d see that just before the protagonist is about to hit rock bottom in the show, they stop grooming themselves and have a face that is unkept with a sparse beard.

Regardless of whether the men in real life like to keep a beard, if they do keep one, they are going to be perceived as someone who has ‘lost his way’, and can’t keep off alcohol and drugs. You are thoroughly judged.

Women’s “opinions” on Korean men with beard

People asking for opinions on others’ bodies has never been something I have been okay with. I’m betraying my integrity by reporting this to you, but of course, women seemed to have an opinion on men and their bearded-ness.

It’s a very twisted way of seeing this, but maybe this is finally a country where there is undesirability of hair on both men and women, not just the latter. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I spoke about the effect of media and pop culture. The clean-shaven faces of the K-pop stars are being used as boyfriend ideals. 

Many Korean women, girls have varied thoughts about how facial hair looks on Korean men. One of them seems to think it seems as if having facial hair means he doesn’t try hard enough and doesn’t care about his appearance. It says something negative about the character.

Another woman seemed to hold this belief but kept an exception. Foreign men are excused. They look stylish and well-groomed.

In contrast to that, some women seemed to think that it makes a man look strong where one of the women didn’t seem to care. It doesn’t matter whether or not a man had a beard.

Meeting Beauty standards for men in Korea

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised to find out why appearance is so important to Koreans. We all know what the Korean beauty standards are. Poreless, smooth, even-toned skin with not a blemish. It’s almost unnatural. Men are held to the same standards (for once).

Many Korean men go through laser procedures to slow down and stop altogether the growth of their facial hair. Shaving every day started to seem a bit too cumbersome. 

On a side note, North Korean government propaganda began a television program back in 2004. It was called “Let’s trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle”. This program dictated how the men should be dressing and grooming. This program also claimed that the length of the human hair affected human intelligence. The longer the hair is, the more nutrients it pulls to grow and the less you have for the rest of your body.

Um, okay. We’ll let that slide.

Beards are now “dirty sexy” in Korean Movies

“Dirty sexy” is really becoming a trend in some Korean movies. The association of dirty, despite something being sexy just, proves how hell-bent the Koreans are and unaccepting of facial hair on men.

Besides, some women do find beards appealing, although not on Korean men. But Korean stars are changing that. Additionally, the clerks at Louis Vuitton in Gangnam, the richest part of Korea, grow a beard. Weird, right? Aren’t they supposed to clean-shaven? When they were asked why they did that, they responded with a coy, ‘to give the taste of the French culture’.

Beards — A financial signifier for Korean men

As we have already seen, it is common in Korea to judge people based on how much facial hair they have. Anything except none would mean an assumption that a person isn’t well to do or not sophisticated.

That’s like saying that all it takes is for you to shave to pull off easily blending in with the crowd at a coveted club in Korea. Unbelievable!

At some jobs and workplaces, male employees absolutely have to shave everyday. Even a small stubble isn’t allowed. 

It’s simple, ladies and gentlemen. Why don’t Koreans have a beard? It’s because they shave it. They have to.

BTS’ take on growing facial hair

In a television broadcast, the members from the BTS ARMY revealed why their facial hair and beards are never viable. J-hope, Suga, and V actually spoke about how they have to undergo rigorous treatments to keep their beard growth under control.

V usually likes a little bit of stubble but keeps a clean shaven look. J-Hope kept a little facial hair when he started off with BTS, but his growth hasn’t been fast, so the look seemed unkempt. There have been times he has forgotten to shave so he wore a mask to cover it up in interviews. 

Suga also liked his moustache, he had a thick one, but when he began apprenticing with BTS, he fearfully took it off because he was new. Nobody has been forced to remove their facial hair from the group.

Do Korean men remove their body hair?

Korea is very popular for its laser hair removal treatments. Considering the beauty standards that exist in Korea, body hair is considered barbaric. It is extremely normal for men to not have body hair in Korea.

Is it illegal to grow beard in South Korea? 

No rules exist in the present day, but back in the 1970s, Park Cung Hee, the then president of South Korea came up with a ridiculous rule about hair. There was no specific length, but if somebody’s hair was not trimmed to a short length, they were taken to the police station and given a haircut against their will.

Are beards common in Korea?

Only about 30% of Koreans have a beard. Since there are no laws, in specific, you’re allowed to maintain a beard. Of course, being indifferent to judgement is important.

Also Read

  1. Why are Koreans Tall?

My goal is to showcase the creativity and awesomeness of Korea and Korean products. I’m the head writer at!

Korean React to 100 Years of Hair Removal! (Sandpaper !?)

Korean women are getting hair transplants on their lady parts

This was published 6 years ago

Whether we wax, shave, or grow it, pubic hair and what we should do with it has long been a hot topic for discussion.

From ripping it all out, to only waxing below, some woman are now preferring a fuller look.

A fan of the bush, Cameron Diaz earlier this year encouraged women to keep their vaginas "fully dressed".

Her argument: One day someone special will want to "unwrap it like the gift that it is".

Surprisingly, mannequins were even seen sprouting pubic hair after American Apparel - claiming to "honour women in all their ungroomed glory" - stuffed their figure's panties with merkins.

Though, it may have taken us a while to get back to the bush, according to Refinery 29, Korean women see pubic hair as a sign of "sexual health and fertility" and are going to great lengths to grow it.

"Yup, women are getting hair transplanted from their heads onto their lady parts," reports the website.

A lack of hair "down there" is known as pubic atrichosis. As a result women are seeking hair restoration surgery to address the not-so-hairy issue.

While Korean men believe its "unlucky to have sexual intercourse with a woman without pubic hair", this isn't the main cause for women to care about their pubic hair.

A 2006 study, examined cases of pubic hair restoration surgery and found the main reason women undergo the procedure was not because of men – instead they felt pressure from other women.

But the pressure other women put on each other to look a certain way doesn't just apply to women in Korea.

In fact, a 2012 British study found women spend more time checking out other women than men.

Dr Caroline Walters, a body image and women's sexuality specialist, told the Telegraph, it's not just other women's clothes we're checking out, either. "It's practically every aspect of another woman's appearance, from hairstyle to tan, shape, size, even body hair and fat distribution."

So why do we do it?

"Females are partly programmed to do it," relationship psychotherapist Corinne Sweet explained to the Telegraph.

"Firstly it's only natural to compare yourself as it gives you a point of reference which can be reassuring. However, the harsh reality is that it's a cattle market out there and the commodity is male attention. Women are checking out the competition and identifying who the alpha female in the pack is. Women subconsciously put themselves in a hierarchy," she said.

The downside of making comparisons is that women tend to rank themselves lower in contrast.

Consistent negative comparisons can cause greater stress, anxiety and depression or as Refinery 29 reports, can give cause for women in Korea to "undergo an expensive and painful procedure to fit a cultural norm".

"So, to grow or mow? That is the question," according to Cosmopolitan.

"But one thing's for sure, we shouldn't judge a girl either way – your private hair is NOT there for public scrutiny. "

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Occasionally she sucks me, I scribble her cap. She sat alone at home and was bored. Marina is the dream of many guys, her perfect body could drive even Hollywood macho crazy. White satin skin, black hair to the waist, a slender figure and beautiful breasts.

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