Op-Ed: A Discussion On Beauty


What is the price of beauty? This Opinion Editorial deals with the subject of beauty in the eyes of netizens and the overall message they convey to the public.

I think we can all agree that (1) netizens are crazy, (2) they are a
formidable source of power, and (3) have absolutely no qualms about
hiding their sharp, unforgiving tongues (er, fingers). Any way you look
at it they’re generally an honest, blunt, and sometimes downright mean bunch of people. Due to their influence, it almost seems like they set the standards
in Korean society. It may all come down to differences of opinion, but
netizens are confusing and hypocritical at times, especially in their
views on beauty.

The topic of beauty doesn’t grow old on the interwebs, especially
debates on who’s plastic and who’s a “natural beauty”. It’s also fun
and fascinating to see our favorite stars without their usual makeup.
In one aspect, I see it as a way for fans to become closer to their
idols. The gloss of beauty, that glamorous veneer, is no longer a
standing wall between them, and for a moment celebrities become “one of

But the tireless netizens don’t seem to want that connection. They
are always on the prowl, pouncing on almost every star’s pre-debut
pictures and comparing them with present-day photos. Diagrams are
charted with the evolution of a celebrity’s face from childhood to
adulthood. Round after round of finger-pointing begins at which star
did what to their eyes, nose, jaw line, etc. And then another round
seems to be dedicated to the ones who are “too ugly” to even be
considered a celebrity. The standards of beauty appear to be
established, except they come across in mixed, jumbled messages.

Celebrities are praised if they’re gorgeous from childhood and onward:

Goo Hye Sun


Or bashed if there are suspicions that so-and-so OBVIOUSLY got something done:

T-ara’s Ji Yeon

Idols are criticized if their bodies are imperfect:

SNSD’s Tiffany


And sometimes even complimented if they become prettier after one or two (or more) procedures:

Lee Ayumi


This isn’t just in regards to plastic surgery. Weight loss plays a
huge role in achieving beauty as well. We’ve all seen pictures of Moon Geun Young and Jung Ryu Won. But who told Jang Nara that
she looked prettier after losing an incredibly unhealthy amount of
weight for her recent movie role? Honestly, her reported weight of 38kg
scares me.

Jang Nara


The fascination and obsession with beauty isn’t only relevant in the
Kpop-sphere; this is also a reflection of Korean society, further
instigated by netizens’ careless comments. Whether you’re a woman or a
man, trying to become more attractive through cosmetic surgery, diet,
or exercise is every person’s choice. I respect that. This is not about
whether it’s right or wrong to undergo cosmetic surgery or any other
beauty enhancer to achieve how you want to look. This is about
something a little bit closer to the heart.

I feel that in Korean society, and even more so in the insulated
Kpop-realm, there is an enormous (and dare I say unnecessary?) amount
of pressure to look more beautiful. Many people, celebrities and
non-celebrities alike, risk their health
and lives for the sake of looking better—extreme dieting to the point
of starvation, the risk of plastic surgery going wrong. I believe there
is too much “you’re not good enough” going on. There should be more
awareness of the risks involved and support for attributes like
confidence and being comfortable in one’s own skin. It makes me sad
that people have taken such measures not only for their own personal
reasons, but because they think they have to live up to a certain