This week we have a special segment of Noona Says. He Said /She Said gives male and female perspectives on current topics and trends of the Korean entertainment world. Guest contributor Jangta from Green Tea Graffiti and Soompi writer small_smiley offer their opinions on whether Korean celebrities should be honest about having plastic surgery.
You may or may not believe that your favorite celebrities were born with that perfectly shaped nose, eyes, and chin, but no one can deny that plastic surgery is there in Korean entertainment. Beautiful actors and singers have enviable features with perfect measurements and proportions, but it does get hard to tell them apart. Even for the average Korean, plastic surgery is readily accessible (and affordable), and those in Seoul will be familiar with certain subway stations filled wall to wall with larger-than-life before and after photos.
Despite the plastic surgery industry’s strong presence in the economy and even tourism, celebrities are more likely to tactfully avoid the subject or deny it all together. Those honest enough to admit to going under the knife hit the front page of the Korean entertainment news, but there are far more who would prefer it no one noticed that their nose had become a little higher, their eyes a little bigger, and their jaws a little sharper.
So, should celebrities follow in the example of Kwanghee and Brown Eyed Girls, who have come out openly about the work they have done on their faces, even on television? Or, on the complete opposite spectrum, do we continue to let Park Bom be silent about her ever-evolving face? Is there such as something in between?
Let’s start off with Jangta, who would like to remind us of a hilariously truthful skit Brown Eyed Girls did for SNL.
A popular female group was about to be asked the dreaded question on a variety talk show. “Did you undergo plastic surgery anytime during your career?” asked the show’s MC.
“Yes, we did,” said the group openly. Who was this bold group that would defy the “no plastic surgery” talk and admit this taboo head-on? We know them as K-pop’s “Abracadabra girls,” Brown Eyed Girls (BEG), and they should be applauded for their openness of going under the knife.
In fact, the K-pop industry should follow suit: Idols should be totally open and honest about plastic surgery, but with one condition. These performers should tell everything about undergoing surgery: the pain, swelling, potential dangers, and costs. While everyone sees the end result of a successful operation – an attractive person – few know what happens during the operation and post-surgery.
For young girls and women that volunteer to undergo plastic surgery, they shouldn’t be shamed for doing so. They should be treated normally like anyone else. But if a person undergoes plastic surgery, aren’t they hiding their true “natural beauty?”
Not according to Ga In and Narsha, two of the BEG members. “We’re really satisfied with our plastic surgery procedure,” they proclaimed. Going under the knife has given the four ladies not just more beauty, but more confidence, assertiveness, and self-esteem as well.
Earlier in their career, there was some concern about BEG. Originally marketed as a female version of Brown Eyes, their sales did not match expectations. Fair or not, looks was one of the debated issues pointed at the group. “They weren’t pretty enough,” many commentators would say. “They weren’t hot, nor sexy, just plain,” others would remark. However, they wanted to advance their music career.
The solution for them: Plastic surgery.
After their procedure, only then, would they receive more attention from the fans and stake their claim as those sultry girls in “Abracadabra”. BEG, like many other female idol groups, knew that improving one’s looks could only help them further their career. These groups know that in a sea of pretty, female starlets, they need every beauty enhancement to stay on top.
But is it really the idol’s — or management’s — responsibility to tell all? While it’s up to each individual idol whether or not they announce if they underwent plastic surgery, by hiding it, it could promote a sense of false sense of beauty. With many K-pop stars, especially female groups, going under the knife, it can be argued that the plastic surgery craze has warped many girls’ standard of beauty.
As ambassadors of K-pop are seen on TV nearly every night, these performers hold considerable sway over their fans. Teenage junior high and high school females in Korea, especially, take notice of their favorite idols’ appearance the most. By owning up that they have undergone plastic surgery, they are at least admitting to their fans that they needed some help to attain their looks, while also making these idols more relatable.
BEG takes it one step further and mocks the idea of “natural beauty” on “SNL Korea”. In their skit, they pointed out that the Korean music industry has set such a high bar for beauty, and then when these performers actually conform to the standard and get surgery, they are heavily criticized for doing so. It’s really a no-win situation for these female idols.
Of course, whether or not more idols come clean with their plastic surgery, the mention of this topic does present some problems. By setting a standard of beauty, it reinforces the notion of a “one standard beauty”. This encourages patients to get the same features their favorites idols have also done, making more people look the same. If too many people follow the trend of cloning their stars’ appearances, it kills any form of unique beauty.
In the end, everyone will have their own take on plastic surgery. However, idols shouldn’t be shamed for openly admitting their plastic surgery. If they are openly admitting to attaining their model-like looks through surgery, open and honest about the procedure, and are willing to improve themselves by altering their looks, should we hate them for doing so?
Looks aren’t everything. But this is the entertainment industry we’re talking about, and looks can make or break an idol’s career. Your favorite oppa may have had just a tiny bit of his nose fixed or maybe (just maybe) gotten a double eyelid surgery. Those adorable dimples? That could’ve been a product of plastic surgery. We don’t really know. But you have to admit that most of the time if you aren’t caught by the music, what first pulls you into following a certain group is their looks. You don’t always talk about how idols are known for being brainy or eloquent speakers. You’ll hear people talk about how cute or good looking that person is.
Take for example, ZE:A’s Kwanghee. Kwanghee has long been known for being open about going under the knife. He didn’t just get one operation. He has admitted to going through multiple surgeries because he felt that he wasn’t good-looking enough to be a part of ZE:A. He gets points for that and even more points for being able to talk about it so casually. He was comfortable with the idea of plastic surgery that he could bring it up on national television. In fact, Kwanghee recently became the endorser of a plastic surgery clinic in Seoul.
Kwanghee isn’t the only one who’s been honest about getting plastic surgery. Shindong and Kyuhyun from Super Junior have both admitted to having double eyelid surgeries in the past. If Kwanghee was casual about it on television, Shindong took it to a higher level and confirmed it on his me2day account (back then they didn’t use Twitter) with a comical post. Shindong even thanked fans for noticing that something was different about him.
Kyuhyun was a little more demure with how he admitted to plastic surgery. While Shindong explicitly said that he had the job done, Kyuhyun indirectly said it by also mentioning that his parents had double eyelids and he did not. He wasn’t as blunt as Shindong but wording it that way was definitely a good spin.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have idols who don’t talk about getting plastic surgery but it’s so glaringly obvious when you see pre-debut photos floating around the internet. Take for example, 2NE1’s Park Bom. On the rare occasion that she makes an appearance on tv, she’s never broached the subject of plastic surgery yet when you look at her pre-debut photos, you can’t help but wonder just how much work she’s gotten done. Her going under the knife has been something that netizens have questioned. The difference is just too big to ignore especially when you see her old photos. There’s no denying it. Hence, the need to be honest when it comes to this matter. Perhaps being a little honest will cut her some backlash (and it won’t hurt, really!).
So should idols be honest with plastic surgery? Yes, because it doesn’t make an idol a lesser person if he or she comes clean. Putting it another way, being honest gives them extra credibility especially in an industry where image makes all the difference. Besides, sometimes, you can’t deny how some have undergone major makeovers (or plainly do look better) thanks to plastic surgery. Comedienne Shin Bong Sun recently admitted to getting a nose job to boost her popularity while singer Solbi has admitted to having her eyes and nose “fixed.”
In the entertainment industry where everything moves quickly and idols struggle to maintain their image, it helps to be a little more open about more sensitive issues such as this. In addressing such an issue, you lessen the shame that people who go through it receive. Plastic surgery continues to receive a lot of hate so when celebrities air out that they have gone under the knife, they say “It’s your choice. It’s not as bad as people make it to be.” Going back to my previous statement on image, a celebrity builds credibility and favor with the public by coming clean with such. A little honesty won’t hurt them too!
Not everyone may agree with going under the knife but for those who have no issues with it, they’re free to do as they please. And if you go through it, might as well come clean and be proud of it.
Our writers shared their thoughts, what are yours? Should Korean celebrities be honest about plastic surgery? Share your comments below!