In hopes of capturing the “pretty boy” looks of their celebrity idols, more and more men in South Korea have reportedly been going under the knife.
Largely shaped by the popularity of K-drama actors and K-pop singers, Korea’s new concept of “male beauty” invoked a more youthful, almost androgynous, appearance combined with a macho physique.
The general fascination to such the delicate good looks but with toned muscles has influenced men to surgically enhance their faces to mimic celebrities such as Song Joong-ki, Hyun Bin and boy bands such as Shinee, Highlight, Super Junior and Big Bang.
While there have been many fresh-faced idols who have become popular in the past, it was Bae Yong-joon with his graceful good looks and sensitive roles which have been attributed to igniting the current male plastic surgery trend, according to SCMP.
South Korean actors Lee Min-ho, Kim Hyun-joong, Kim Bum, and the other actors in the Korean drama “Boys Over Flowers” would eventually add to the pretty boy look craze when the show blew up in popularity in 2009.
It also helped that the industry itself has embraced surgery in helping K-pop stars enhance their own looks.
In an interview with SCMP, Joy Kang, the CEO of Korean plastic surgery concierge service in Singapore called Eunogo, had this to say about the Korean men’s shift in preference for their looks:
“I think the ideal for Korean men is different these days. If a Korean man looks ‘pretty’ it means he’s handsome. For Korean men, they actually want to look more feminine than other cultures.”
“When you see K-pop stars, they all have sharp V-line jaws with perfect flawless skin and masculine bodies,” says Kang. “For women, we have a term ‘bagel girl,’ meaning baby-faced and glK-popous; a woman whose face looks very young but who has a sexy body.”
“For men, we have a similar concept, ‘jimsung-dol’ which means ‘monster idol’; a young, cute-looking guy with a very muscular and toned body shape.”
Banobagi Plastic Surgery founder and head surgeon Dr. Lee Hyun-taek agrees, noting that, “In the past, Korean men used to get plastic surgery to become more masculine, but now men have become interested in cosmetics and see the appeal.”
Lee also revealed that for men, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, facial contouring, and body contouring are the most common types of surgeries that Korean men submit themselves into to achieve the pretty boy look.
Meanwhile, Eunogo’s Kang added that most of her male clients also undergo breast reduction and even “six-pack” surgeries, which are just basically liposuction that involves shaping and “carving out” six pack abs.
For $20,000 a day, an older man can undergo a series of mostly non-invasive rejuvenation treatments, body check-ups and wellness procedures to take years or even decades off his looks.
Chaum Clinic head surgeon Dr. Jin Seok-in revealed that such anti-ageing procedures have recently become very popular.
“Several years ago, most men focused on pigmentation treatment [acne scars],” she noted. “Nowadays, men focus more on wrinkles and lifting. Men want to make their face younger. Botox and fillers are the most common treatments for men [at Chaum]. They’re minor and cheap. They want to get it over with quickly.”
But it’s not just the South Korean men who are willing to get surgery to look like a K-pop star.
According to a Banobagi rep, Chinese patients used to make up 70-80% of all foreign visitors. The numbers, however, have significantly dropped due to recent political tension between China and South Korea.
A representative for Chaum Clinic revealed that their clients are about 70% domestic patients and 30% foreign. Among all foreign clients, 35% of them are from China, another 35% are from Kazakhstan, 20% are from Mongolia and the rest come from the U.S., Japan, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The rep also added that the majority of their patients are between 40 and 50 years old.