South Korea has become a country that is synonymous with cosmetic surgery. Beauty standards in almost every society and culture has been harsh, even harsher when it comes to women. From foot binding practice in China where the feet of women are reduced to the size of an infant by possibly breaking the bones, to the elongation of neck of the Kayan tribes by wearing neck-rings resulting in an almost-giraffe like neck, the definition and the search of beauty has been horrendous.
And South Korea in modern society is no new victim to the entrapments of beauty standards. This search for beauty has become so dangerous that even getting employed depends on the face that you fake. In fact, mothers in South Korea gifting a plastic surgery as a birthday present is no new thing. Among the most popular surgeries are skin whitening, nose jobs, and double-eyelid surgery, which many critics have taken to mean that Koreans are trying to look more Caucasian or white.
South Korea has over 1 million cosmetic surgery procedures a year
With the highest rate of cosmetic surgeries in the world and nearly 1 million procedures a year, South Korea is often called the world's plastic surgery capital. Hence, in a country that sees flawless feminine looks as being integral to success in career and relationships, women in South Korea in the wake of events are protesting against this ‘constructed beauty-standards’.
The trend which is also called “escape the corset” movement has gained increasing traction on social media as women destroys their cosmetics and others following suit in videos or posted photos.The protest by South Korean women against the country’s stringent and unrealistic beauty standards is giving out a beam of light to other beauty-trapped women. Makeup is a recreation, a choice, not an imposition. Beauty regimes requiring women to spend hours applying makeup each day that involves layers and layers of cosmetics which is both time and money consuming has taken a toll on many.
The ''escape the corset” movement is now an even stronger movement against patriarchal values
This movement not only has to do with South Korea that has a massive beauty industry worth over £10bn, but to the women as a whole. The “escape the corset” movement as such have become an even stronger movement against patriarchal values in the country and the call for greater equality and to fight against issues such as illegal filming and sexual assault.
In May, a Korean news anchor once caused furore when she made her appearance wearing glasses in one of the country’s main TV stations which caused a frenzy of debate about unrealistic demands on appearances. Protests in Seoul against the increasingly prevalent practice have attracted tens of thousands and protesters have taken to roads with signboards that says “My life is not your porn”, The protests as such calls for punishment to those filming the unapproved videos and even to those who watch them.
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Amid the prevailing unrealistic beauty standards, South Korea is in a battle that will redefine women’s definition of women and not men. In the past, the country’s #MeToo movement has taken down multiple high-profile men accused of sexual harassment and assault, including Ahn Hee-jung, a rising star in the ruling Democratic party.