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Portraits of Miss Korea 2013 Contestants Spark Discussion on Plastic Surgery

misskorea2013

The web is abuzz over newly released photographs of Miss Korea 2013 beauty pageant contestants, and not in a way the photographer or the pageant were expecting. The photographs have sparked heated discussion on the topics of plastic surgery and racism.

The whole thing appears to have gotten started over on a Japanese blog, which posted portraits of 20 of the beauty contestants along with a comment about how they all look so strangely similar to one another.

The photographs went viral after they were shared on Reddit with the title: “Korea’s plastic surgery mayhem is finally converging on the same face.” This post sparked a discussion on the popularity of plastic surgery in Korea and whether or not it’s racist to say that all of the faces look eerily similar.

A Seoul resident with the username HotBrownie weighed in with the following comment:

You arent racist. Those women in fact do look unnervingly similar and yes, Koreans think so too. This is because they all get the exact same plastic surgeries and the surgeons follow the same formulas for noses and eyes and everything else they’ve had done (fillers, cheek and forehead implants, eye surgery, nose surgery, jaw reduction, breast job, calf muscle job, fat grafting etc). Every single one of them has had nose and eye surgery. Those faces costed those girls thousands. Also dont underestimate makeup, they’ve got it caked on in a similar style.

Other photographs were soon presented to show that no, the women did not all look eerily similar “pre-transformation”:

pretransform

Another user named NinjaFridge then took the photographs and turned some of them into this animated GIF that has the eyes of the portraits lined up with one another:

According to the New York Times, a 2009 survey found that one in every five women in the Seoul (the capital of South Korea) between the ages of 19 and 49 have had some form of plastic surgery done to their bodies. It’s a striking fact that has even spawned a Tumblr page dedicated to before-and-after photos of the widely done procedures.


 
  • Yang

    Apparently, I was wrong! And photoshop is one of the culprits! Guess my knowledge of photoshop is obvious. There’s another website that talks about the photoshopping, sorry no link. But, I still attest to the fact that the faces are eerily indistinguishable in real life. They have even made a caricature of ‘the face’ that is so common. Sorry no link for that either! But the plastic girls really are starting to look very similar to one another – completely negating the purpose of the surgery in the end. I guess the photoshop artist clearly knows the preference of the judges! ;)

  • dk2020

    not every contestant had their face restructured smh ..

  • dk2020

    you got any plastic surgery done since you live there?

  • dk2020

    what about in beverly hills?

  • http://www.facebook.com/duke.shin1 Duke Shin

    Nope. I like my face.

  • tonyc0101

    Say what you want, and regardless of how they all look similar, at least the surgeons did an excellent job on them.

  • Martin

    As a long term Asian resident with many ties to Korea, I’d
    say that is fair to say that Korean women ARE trying to look more ‘European’.
    That is to say 1) That lighter skin, bigger eyes and narrower noses is a look
    associated with ‘Europeans’ far more than other ethnicities. That does
    not mean to say that they idolize Europeans, but they do seek a look that
    principally (though not entirely) ‘belongs’ to Europeans. Whilst Asian
    aristocracy did have paler skin, they do not generally genetically
    have narrower noses and bigger eye’s. So whilst having pale skin is undoubtedly associated with wealth and therefore desirability amongst Asians themselves, you can never separate the fact that Europeans are pale and have exerted more of an influence on Asian culture in the past few hundred years than the other way round. (Asian influence of the last few centuries on European cultures manifests itself in different ways – e.g. interior design, cuisine etc) Add to this the fact that that
    many Asian’s regular experience of European’s is through the wealthy expats
    living in their own countries or those they see on the big screen/TV and it’s
    clear that the association between wealth and a European look continues to be propagated in society even if it’s no longer true from a global perspective. Ultimately paler skin, bigger eyes, slim noses is what Europeans (Certainly Northern Europeans) look like and therefore it’s correct to say Korean’s seek a ‘European look’.

    noses is what Europeans look like and therefore it’s correct to say Korean’s
    seek a ‘European look’.

  • Martin

    As a long term Asian resident with many ties to Korea, I’d
    say that is fair to say that Korean women ARE trying to look more ‘European’.
    That is to say 1) That lighter skin, bigger eyes and narrower noses is a look
    associated with ‘Europeans’ far more than other ethnicities. That does
    not mean to say that they idolize Europeans, but they do seek a look that
    principally (though not entirely) ‘belongs’ to Europeans. Whilst Asian
    aristocracy did have paler skin, they do not generally genetically
    have narrower noses and bigger eye’s. So whilst having pale skin is undoubtedly associated with wealth and therefore desirability amongst Asians themselves, you can never separate the fact that Europeans are pale and have exerted more of an influence on Asian culture in the past few hundred years than the other way round. (Asian influence of the last few centuries on European cultures manifests itself in different ways – e.g. interior design, cuisine etc) Add to this the fact that that
    many Asian’s regular experience of European’s is through the wealthy expats
    living in their own countries or those they see on the big screen/TV and it’s
    clear that the association between wealth and a European look continues to be propagated in society even if it’s no longer true from a global perspective. Ultimately paler skin, bigger eyes, slim noses is what Europeans (Certainly Northern Europeans) look like and therefore it’s correct to say Korean’s seek a ‘European look’.

    noses is what Europeans look like and therefore it’s correct to say Korean’s
    seek a ‘European look’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rhys.branman Rhys Branman

    Yes, Korea, the country with cosmetic surgery signs flooding the subways. And it is S. Korea, not all countries in Asia. It is my understanding that one must submit a photograph with job applications in Korea. That will put some pressure on a person. Of course the American standard of thin, straight blond hair of most models is creates just as identical women. I say enhance your natural beauty without subscribing to some formula of beauty.

    Dr Rhys Branman
    Little Rock Cosmetic Surgery Center

  • Jack

    How come there aren’t any non Korean contestants? Isn’t that racist? How dare they to live in a country that is dedicated only to Koreans? Where are the blacks, arabs, whites? Not enough diversity, right? It’s not “vibrant” enough…right? Or it is ok, because Korea isn’t originally a white man’s country? So they CAN actually be proud Koreans, living in Korea without being forced into multi-culti and without being called racists, neo-Nazi, rednecks etc.?

  • http://johngoldsmithphotography.com/ John Goldsmith

    Perhaps not so similar, at least, not from the knife. If anything, Photoshop and makeup appear the be the great equalizer in attaining “beauty.”

    http://www.koreabang.com/2013/stories/miss-korea-2013-contestants-before-after-photos-amuse-netizens.html

  • Jen

    I like how the possibility of PHOTOSHOP wasn’t even considered in any of these articles. Yes, plastic surgery is rampant in South Korea, but they also have some great photoshoppers there.

    My guess is that the “before” photos are what they actually look like, the “after” photos are the faces done up by great makeup artists (of which there are PLENTY in South Korea), then done up again by superbly talented photoshoppers.

  • Pac

    I’d give them all one.

  • Tiffany

    Koreans are already too much of themselves. Can’t just they get a grip and stop overdoing it? I have no objection towards anyone with the surgery, but I just think it is ridiculous to overdoing it. I mean seriously, too much plastic surgery is already too extreme.

  • danny kim

    I am also working in this line of work, If there is any inquiry, let me know
    http://www.docfinderkorea

  • QQBBQ

    No she’s not blind just ignorant. I’m not saying that to insult her I’m sure she might be a lovely woman but from a point of cold logic she is ignorant. She simply hasn’t seen many Asians in her life and the ones in the pictures do not conform to what she is used to seeing. That creates some cognitive dissonance and her brain tries to find a frame of reference. Being ignorant and not very smart nor imaginative, after some labor her brain nets out at “Western.”

    It’s not surprising.

    What’s interesting is WHY she thinks like that. Broadly, there are 3 reasons. Obviously first of all it’s because Western racism (based on the American One Drop rule for Slaves, created to deprived mixed race offspring their patrilineal inheritance) insists on lumping in all “Asians” into one ethnographic group. This is why you hear many ignorant people characterize things like fair skin among Asians in pictures as something “white.” They have “yellow” Cantonese or “brown” Malaysians as the formative image of an “asian” in their minds not realizing that China itself is geographically larger and more ethnically diverse than Europe. And China is a small part of East Asia, which itself is separate from South East Asia and Oceania.

    This basic shortcoming in Ingemar’s mind creates additional dissonance. A more educated person would know that some Koreans and some Japanese actually have LESS MELANIN in their skin that some Southern Europeans but to her brain, the fair skin she does not expect among Asians is something foreign, disconcerting: something “white” where she only expected “yellow.”

    Secondly, it’s because just as the Koreans (and other East Asians) sort of propagandize their “vision” of Asian beauty (fair skin, double eyelids etc) Hollywood and the West very stridently propagandize what they contend an “Asian” looks like. It means slanty eyes, sexy look, sallow skin. There’s premium in the West of a sexually available look for Asian females, since the majority of the West doesn’t look on Asian starlets as the sisters, daughters, lovers, wives that the Asians do but as China Dolls, Dragon Ladies, sex toys, sluts, mistresses etc. Not only is that manifest in the typecasting of submissive sexualized roles but in the actual actresses who are given opportunities. A Korean starlet like Suzy would never be given an opportunity in the West… too “plain” too cute. All the nets out into a certain image that Ingemar has in her mind and the contradiction she feels. “These girls don’t LOOK ASIAN.” Nevermind that she doesn’t really know what Asians look like so they might as well be from Mars… or in her case… the West.

    Finally, there’s a lot of discussion about plastic surgery in Korea. What effete white asses don’t realize is that anything mean or controversial that can be said about these contestants (including things that Americans could not think of uttering) HAS ALREADY BEEN SAID by the Koreans themselves. They are vicious. It’s much like the breadth of political discussion of Israel. It’s a very narrow band in the West but in Israel itself the discussion from the Left and Right are extreme and broader and more comprehensive than Americans or Europeans even can comprehend. In all this discussion in East Asia though, the concept that plastic surgery relates to “wanting to be white” doesn’t even come up. Because it’s completely nonsensical from the Asian perspective. It’s like some clueless dolt arguing that going to college is “blacks trying to be white.” Black go to college, it’s not in any way a “white” trait. Same thing with the beauty ideals in Korean PS… a minority, but a significant minority of Koreans have double eyelids. As pointed out, Koreans are generally fair, fairer often than “white” caucasians like Arabs. For Koreans the issue is a convergence of a specific Asian beauty ideal, one that was held when the celts lives in stoneage huts on the site of modern London. Interestingly though, when Europeans get ahold of the ongoing discussion from East Asia about this phenomena there’s the projection of a lot of Western Colonial hangups about “wanting to be white.” Which does in fact have currency with African Americans, Indians and others who were dominated by the West but not in Korea. It’s a very ignorant but understandable mutation of the original issue, but one entirely springing from our own shortcomings and lack of imagination and perspective in the West.

    What most Americans don’t realize is that it’s not 1950. Being “American” or being “white” isn’t ASPIRATIONAL for the larger world. The typical image of a white person is an undereducated, overfed, dolt with an IQ 10 points below that of the average European, 20 points lower than the average Korean who can’t manage to to use “it’s” versus “its” in context or properly apply reflexive pronouns in their one native language.

    Then there’s the entire issue that of “Korean plastic surgery” being longstanding ultranationalist trope from neo fascists in Japan and Right wing talking points from the PRC which Americans wade into (like so many things in the world) without a clue.

  • mitochondrias

    That’s the most ignorant thing I’ve heard. A small percentage of Asians have natural double eye lids, large eyes, and smaller noses with higher bridges. It has been regarded as the standard of beauty in Asian culture before they even met Westerners. These women get these surgeries to look like other Asian women that their culture has deemed attractive. The idea that a whole ethnic group has decided to cut up their faces to look like Europeans is such a Eurocentric idea and inaccurate. I felt embarrassed for you when I read your comment.

  • maria

    Thanks God I’m Asian girl with big n double eyelid,small n round face….even my skin is dark

  • Boris_Da_Bengal_Tiger

    That is what happened. Gold star for you Jen.