– 76 percent of Korean women in the 20 to 30 age group have undergone plastic surgery. The most popular procedure by far is the double eyelid surgery (epicanthoplasty).
– 25 percent of Korean mothers who have daughters between the ages of 12 and 16 suggested plastic surgery to their daughters.
– 27 percent of Korean college graduate job seekers blamed an failed interview on their looks. 28 percent of job seekers have already undergone plastic surgery (or plan to), in order to correct this ‘error’.
Those statistics are quite high… While in the West plastic surgery has a certain vain flair to it, and is even frowned upon by some, in Asia it’s a perfectly acceptable practice and, as the second statistic shows, even encouraged.
Can you imagine middle aged American mothers encouraging and pushing their reluctant daughters to have nose-jobs and jaw reductions. “But mom! I like the way I look!” Not gonna happen.
Firstly: Conformity. Korea is a collectivistic society where people conform to social standards and norms rather than be different and stand out. In the West, individualism and uniqueness is prized and encouraged, but in Eastern cultures “if the nail stands out, hit it back in!” This is of course a broad generalisation (and many might think me ignorant for being stereotypic), but I’ve found it largely to still be true. In spite of the Modernization of Korea and influx of Western thoughts and ideas into many aspects of society, homogeneous conformity still prevails. So if a trend develops, Koreans will often follow that trend without thinking twice about it, simply because other people do it too. This is the prime reason why Korean men all undergo circumcision today, it simply started as a trend after the war and no one has looked back since…
Secondly: Competitiveness. As harsh as this sounds to politically correct feminist hearts, it’s a fact that in Korea, looks most definitely influence your ability to obtain employment, especially for females. Korean resumes even have a box where you have to affix your photograph. And ESL teachers from foreign countries usually have to include photographs of themselves with their applications (though this is for other reasons as well, see Racism).
Understand that appearance is a large, and sometimes the most important, factor in one’s ability to find a employment, and the popularity of plastic surgery is the next logical step.