Having to be born as a singaporean in the 1990s, which also makes me a part of the Millennial Generation, television and the internet was a part of my growing up process. Moreover , as many know , singapore is a small country with a small domestic population therefore it is unable to support a vibrant media industry. Because of that , singapore is a media consumption location , importing programs across borders of nations, resulting it being a signifier of East Asian popular culture. (Chua, Iwabuchi, 2008, p. 2) With that said, i will be highlighting how being exposed to the korean popular culture has influence my perception of beauty as well as how it has impacted me in my everyday life.
As we all know in today’s context , the emergence of the korean popular culture in singapore was due to the Korean Wave. According to Kim (2013, p.1) , the term “Korean Wave” or “Hallyu” was coined by the chinese news media about two decade ago , in 1998 , to refer to the popularity of Korean pop culture in China.The boom started with the export of Korean dramas to China in the late 1990s thanks to transnationalism and since then, korea has emerge as a new centre for the production of it’s popular culture, exporting its own media products into asian countries.
However, with that said, my first encounter with Korean popular culture was in the late 2000s, in fact in 2009, when one of our local terrestrial tv station known as Channel U , broadcasted Boys over flowers (2009) , a popular Korean series especially among students. The drama series told a story of Geum Jan Di , a ordinary girl who finds herself attending a prestigious school after saving a student’s life. I could still vividly remember when the show was aired , it became a hot sensation among students in my school, everyone was talking about it , everyone was sharing their thoughts and opinions, focusing the topic on how good looking the characters were in the show and not forgetting to mention the instances whereby my schoolmates were so mesmerized by the looks and the role of the characters in the drama series that they actually fell in love with the Korean actors itself. At that time i did not understand the hype around this particular Korean drama and the only thing I could figure out is all that the characters portrayed in drama series were indeed very good looking and that they can act really well. Adding on , Kdrama was not the only development of the Korean Popular Culture across countries, bringing success to the image of Korea. Carried by the internet and social media and the proliferation of music videos on Youtube, K-pop was a global phenomenon which brings a huge effects to daily life in society, in regards to its fashion, music, drama and lifestyle.
My first exposure to kpop music was “No Body” by Wonder Girls followed by “Sorry Sorry” by Super Junior as well as “The Boys ” by Girl’s Generation and the list could go on and on. I would say why kpop was successful in dominating the world is because they are constantly at the top of their game, they flaunt flashy fashion , always changing their looks constantly and their music is more than just pop music, it contains a mixture of all kinds of music like R&B , hip hop , rap and pop. And it has influenced me in a way whereby , everytime i look at korean music videos , there will always be a point whereby i feel inferior of myself, with regards to the way i look , the way i dress especially when everyone is going crazy with the korean culture and people around me are looking up to korea as a standard for beauty. Therefore this brings me to look into how the influence of kpop culture has resulted a change in beauty standard in my society which in turn is affecting me.As far as we know, there is always a controversy that emerges when it comes to determining the standard of beauty in women in society. In South Korea , it is known that it’s significance in physical appearance has been around long before modern times. According to Holliday and Elfving-Hwang (2012) , the roots of interest in physical appearance is due to the traditional belief of physiognomy and astrology in which facial features determine a person’s character , fate and luck.
Moreover , traditionally in south korea , women whom have round eyes, moon-like faces , high nose bridges are considered beautiful as they did not have the typical genetic feature of south koreans who have smaller eyes, flat noses and square faces. However, this has only become a homogenized standard of beauty in the eyes of the general public in south korea after the spread of Hallyu through the media in late 2000s when celebrities starring in Kdrama and Kpop groups were having features that do not fit in the typical genetic feature of south koreans due to them already getting their features altered with the help of plastic surgery. Whereas as an asian chinese , the society i grow up in , we practise Confucianism.
According to Confucius, although it did not discuss beauty at length, he did mentioned that , “our bodies, to every hair and skin, are received from our parents”. We must not consider to injure or to wound them and if we maintain our body in its pure state, it will be the greatest display of filial piety possible.Therefore confucius stresses the importance of maintaining the body as is and If we alter it in any way, we will be deemed as being ungrateful for all our parents have given us and it is the greatest sin against our parents. (Confucius and Dawson, 2005, p.156) With that said , my society used to be very wary of any form of body alteration. However with the influence of the Korean Popular culture, with korean celebrities engaging in taboo practices such as plastic surgery so as to appeal to a more global community, singaporeans especially the younger generation whom idolized K-pop stars are adopting and intimidating the culture that they bring and this has resulted in the practices of my society being lost.
And if we were to take it into the context of comparing it to 10 years ago, if someone were to asked whether one had received cosmetic surgery, he or she would heavily deny such accusations. Whereas for now, it is very different and singapore have gradually adopt a very positive view towards cosmetic surgery these days. Adding on, if you look at news articles and magazines these days , statics have concluded that there have been an increase in cosmetic surgeries across the globe due to the influence of Korean popular culture. And this have impacted me as i find that my family is still practising the Confucianism ideology although majority of the people are beginning to have an open minded view of having their looks altered with plastic surgery so as to achieve Korea’s beauty standard, and i find it a challenge as i am influence by the korean popular culture but at the same time i have to keep my traditional asian chinese beliefs. Therefore i do not believe in going for plastic surgery to achieve the Korea’s beauty standard, Therefore I can say that the media plays a big part in shaping how we perceive beauty and how we determine what is deemed as”beautiful”. According to Ann Marie (2012) , advertising in the fashion and beauty industry has define for us what beauty is, and what it isn’t by creating advertisements with unrealistic images of beauty .
This has in turn resulted in many women feeling stress over how they look , having low self esteem , being unhappy with their appearance and body image. And as a result they tend to look for alternative such as going for cosmetic surgery or non-invasive method such as makeup.