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Korean Cosmetic Surgery

In: Social Issues

Submitted By 147814
Words 6596
Pages 27
Gloria Davies and Gil-Soo Han

KoreAn coSmetic SurGery AnD DiGitAl publicity: beAuty by KoreAn DeSiGn
This article examines the relationship between digital publicity and cosmetic surgery. While focused on South Korea, it also discusses China because of the conspicuous Chinese demand for Korean cosmetic surgery in recent years. In fact, China has become the largest export market for Korean cosmetic surgery. The analysis is based on the premise that there is a vital link between cosmetic surgery and digital technology in both these countries. We argue that the celebrity culture spawned by entertainment media has facilitated the normalisation of cosmetic surgery to the extent that it is commonly viewed, quite unproblematically, as a form of human physiological enhancement. The article examines the publicity surrounding cosmetic surgery (comprising media reports, advertisements and commentaries) to see how it is presented in the Korean media and on the internet. These findings are then considered in relation to the promotion of Korean cosmetic surgery in China. In the 2000s, Korean cosmetic surgery rose as a by-product of the massive cultural phenomenon known as Hallyu, or the ‘Korean wave’. Hallyu represents Korea’s media success: its entertainment products have generated enormous revenues since the first exports of Korean popular culture in the 1990s. In 2009, Hallyu revenues were estimated to have reached US$6 billion (cited in Oh, 2010). Cosmetic surgery was first promoted alongside the original Hallyu staples of film, TV and music, through the Korean celebrities featured in these products. By the late 2000s, cosmetic surgery had become a multi-million-dollar export industry in its own right (Sim, 2009). This article examines the role of digital publicity in facilitating the enormous popularity of cosmetic surgery in South Korea (hereafter Korea). In

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