Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whiter skin, k-pop and and cherry blossoms

The first blooms of Spring

We'll start with a quick update. I'm in a wonderful mood because, seemingly overnight, Spring has arrived. Suddenly everything is blooming around me and Jeju is coming to life. The best part is the cherry blossoms. The trees are absolutely everywhere and are simply stunning right now. And they'll only get prettier over the next week or two. As if to reinforce this, Jeju's annual Cherry Blossom Festival is this weekend within walking distance of my apartment. It's safe to say i plan on attending :)

And while the natural beauty of the island is increasing exponentially every day, the temperature is rising and the sun is returning. To truly appreciate what an impact this has, you must have lived somewhere where the only things to do were in nature. The closest parallel I can think of is the end of winter in 7 Brides for 7 Brothers (obscure reference). All you really need to know is that I feel like my energy has doubled and my smile rarely leaves my face because of the weather.

Now to continue my "about Korea" series with the focus this time on: Music and Beauty. Having already discussed Korean hospitality and food, we move on to these interesting topics.

Koreans have very definite standards of beauty in both genders. First, you must be thin. The average person on the street in America would be considered fat in Korea. (Of course depending on where you are, that might be true regardless). As an example, I am not really considered thin here. I'm about normal, if unusually tall. Once you're thin, you need white skin. The whiter the better. Women often wear veils while driving to keep the sun off of their faces. Instead of tanning lotion, you find whitening cream everywhere here. This incidentally results in thin, white foreigners nearly always being considered attractive.

Ok if you're thin and white, you're doing good so far. If you're a woman, you need small delicate features. Big, round eyes are the lone desirable exception to this generalization. If you're a man, taller is better but facial hair is not common. Many Korean men are incapable of growing any kind of facial hair and those that can are often restricted to a weak mustache. Trimmed facial hair is not looked down upon but the scruffy look is (my students hate it if i go more than a couple days without shaving). So if you're got all that covered, congratulations; you might have a Korean love interest in your future.

an attractive woman in Korea

The Korean concept of beauty of course carries great weight in selecting their musicians (as it does in America). This is especially true because by far the most popular type of music here is Korean Pop (K-pop). K-pop is like bubblegum pop of the late 90s (NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, etc) on steroids. The average K-pop group is composed of 5-10 attractive teenagers of which 1-2 are good singers, 3-4 are good dancers and the rest are there to be pretty. K-pop songs have an extremely short shelf life, often lasting only 1-3 months before disappearing. Thus there's always something new to hear. On the plus side, K-pop songs tend to be catchy and fun. And even better, they don't seem to have discovered autotune yet (thank god). All in all, it's not that different than pop radio in the states (and often it's more comprehensible).

If you'd like to see an example of both Korean standards of beauty and K-pop (not that you probably care but if you do), click here.

After watching or skipping the above link, enjoy these pictures of my school and the early cherry blossom blooms. More will be forthcoming I assure you.

The picnic area behind my smaller school

And the view it affords visitors


  1. Nice blog. How I wish I can go to Korea soon. Keep posting more interesting blogs such as Korean skincare, fashion (men), and hairstyle(men). Thank you!

  2. Give me a few days and I might be able to accommodate that request