K-Pop (feat. beauty standards)

June 23, 2012

You can't really experience Korea without Korean pop music, more commonly known as K-Pop. Music in general can't be overlooked as an integral part of Korean culture. I've been told over and over again that Koreans are musical people who love to sing and dance. This can be inferred through the sheer volume of norebangs (singing rooms) you see as you walk down the street. I'm not a huge fan of K-Pop but I see the appeal and can't deny that it's incredibly catchy!

Here are some of the more current, popular songs:

Girls' Generation - Twinkle

 Big Bang - Fantastic Baby
(this song is inescapable)

Wondergirls - Like This
Teen Top - To You

These are some other songs that I recognize, which probably indicates some level of popularity in the past 10 months:

Girls' Generation - The Boys

Block B - ‪난리나‬ (Nanlina)

2NE1 - ‪내가 제일 잘 나가‬ (I'm the Best)
(If I had to choose a favourite group this would be it... simply because
they don't play up the typical, over-the-top feminine/cutesy thing)

SHINee - Sherlock

Thanks to Meg Corless for her help on this topic ^_^

I guess this is the appropriate time/place to comment on the differences between North American and Korean beauty styles and standards. After watching the videos you might notice some things about the women: cutesy demeanor (referred to as aegyo/애교), legs for days, but no cleavage. For Korean guys there isn't really anything notable except the fact that they are total fashionistas and pretty feminine compared to North American standards. My students, especially the girls, are pretty honest about their perceived shortcomings: big face, no 'double eyelid', too fat, too short. The most I've heard from boys is about 'skin problems' and those with darker skin being referred to as Obama. Yep. I try to explain to them, when they comment on my 'gold hair' or the shape of my eyes, that people always want what they don't have. I tell them how I think their hair and eyes are beautiful (not those terrifying ones that are commonly sought after through contact lenses or surgery) and that while they may want 'larger eyes', there are make up styles which aim to resemble 'Korean eyes'. The grass is always greener. Etc. All of these insights, I'm sure, fall on deaf ears.

I'm not going to delve too deep into this topic. Why write what's already been said? If you're interested, check out these hilariously entertaining videos on EatYourKimchi.com about clothing modesty, beauty standards, and perceptions of foreigners. They also elaborate on that thing they call aegyo!

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