Korean Beauty Standards // A Guide to the Worldwide Phenomenon That is K Beauty

Everything You Need to Know About Korean Beauty Standards

Korean Beauty Standards

Have you ever been interested in Korean beauty standards?

Aside from its pop culture and history, Korea is known worldwide for its high rates of plastic/cosmetic surgeries.

This is not coincidental if we remember that Korean people have always regarded visual beauty as an important part of life.

‘Korean beauty’ is truly unique, especially in the eyes of westerners.

Today we’ll discuss some key features about Korean beauty standards and see how they differ from popular beauty trends from the mainstream media.

Korean Beauty Standards || The Face

Korean Beauty Standards || Skin Colour

Korean Beauty Standards || The Body

Korean Beauty Standards || Conclusion

Korean Beauty Standards || FAQs

Would you like to know what are the beauty standards in China? Check out our article on beauty standards in China.

The Face

The most important elements of these standards is the softness. A face that says I’m innocent is always preferred.

First and foremost though, let’s have a quick Korean lesson. Here are some of the words you need to know to describe someone’s face in Korean.

How many did you already know?

Korean Beauty Standards

A basic standard for a beautiful female face would be: small face with pale skin and big eyes.

Having a small face is the core of a female’s beauty in Korea.

Probably because a smaller face with bigger eyes makes a person look younger!

A lot of Korean women reduce their jaws and chins with surgeries in order to get the popular ‘V-line jaw’ or how Koreans call it V자형얼굴 (jahyeong-eolgul).

There’s even such tools such as chin straps and jawline masks that help people reach their jaw goals.

FOR EXAMPLE | Here is a popular idol proudly showing off her V-shaped jaw. Her name is Aespa Karina, or Karina (카리나) for short. She is often complimented for her visuals.

Korean Beauty Standards - Karina AESPA
Famous Korean singer and rapper 카리나 maintains strong Korean beauty standards
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Top 10 Best Kpop Songs to Learn Korean 🎧

Did you know that music was a great way to learn a language? Find out our selection of best Kpop songs to learn Korean as well as some tips and tricks.

The Nose

Next comes the nose.

A beautiful nose is a crucial facial feature in Korean beauty standards.

Koreans prefer small, pointy noses which are regarded as elegant and sophisticated.

뾰족한 코 (ppyojoghan ko) – or a small pointed nose speaks of a person’s sophistication that is also often achieved through plastic surgery in South Korea.

The Mouth

As for the mouth, by Korean standards a beautiful mouth is small in size, while lips are plump.

While western makeup trends include ‘over-lining’ lips with lipstick to make them look bigger.

On the flip side, ‘underlined’ lips are very popular in Korea!

Among the makeup trends in Korea, “gradient lips” have been popular for a very long time.

They consist of hiding the lines of your lips and colouring only the inner part to get a very innocent and soft look.

Large Eyes / Double Eyelids

As already stated, Korean’s believe that having bigger eyes gives a person a more youthful look.

In order to make their eyes seem larger, many Korean girls use a popular makeup trend called aegyo-sal (애교살).

This makeup look includes highlighting a line underneath one’s eye to make it look bigger and give the person a more lively look.

Mono-lids (absence of a crease on one’s eyelid) are considered unattractive.

Therefore a lot of people (approximately every third Korean) go for double eyelid surgery (쌍꺼풀 수술 ssangkkeopul susul).

This surgery is often called East Asian blepharoplasty.

Skin Colour

While people in the west try their best to get the desired golden tan on their skin, in Korea (as well as other Asian countries) pale skin is considered the ‘better’ skin colour.

Lex the Lion

This is rooted in Korean culture, since in the past pale skin was the distinctive feature of the members of the higher social class.

This is logical, since royals and nobles did not have to work outside under the scorching sun. Therefore, darker skin was a sign that a person had to work on land and did not have a high paying job.

This way of thinking is so deeply rooted in Korean minds that even now most Koreans wear sunscreen before leaving their houses in order to protect their skin from darkening.

Of course, just like in other countries, this standard leads to cases of colourism – or judging people based solely for their skin colour.

Popular idols with darker skin colour, such as Kai from EXO, or Twice’s Jihyo, have often been mocked for their colour.

But today we see many celebrities proudly showing off their darker skin color!

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BTS Seoul Tour || 22 Places ARMYs Must Visit (in 2024)

Make the most of your trip to South Korea and start your BTS Seoul Tour with our list of places to visit! All maps are included for your convenience.

The Body

Now let’s discover what type of bodies Koreans consider desirable.

Even though Western media is filled with images of curvy bodies, in South Korea people prefer slim figures.

As you have probably noticed most Korean celebrities who are considered sexy have very different bodies from Western models and actresses. This is because Koreans like slimmer bodies over curvy ones.

Even though it is relatively easy in Korea to stay thin because of their diet. Many people still choose to follow strict diets to maintain their slim figures.

Many diets popularised by K-pop idols and K-actresses can be found online, but they are often criticised for spreading unhealthy eating habits and attitudes towards food.

BONUS | Lets learn some more body parts in Korean with this flashcard.

Feel free to download and save this for your own revision 🙂
Korean Beauty Standards

But aside from a preferred weight, there are other standards for a beautiful body in Korean culture.

One of them being having long legs, thin enough to see a thigh gap or a 허벅지틈 (heobeogji teum).

Other standards include having a slim waist and straight shoulders.

Summary of Korean Beauty Standards

As you can see the beauty standards in Korea are very strict and have a big influence on the everyday lives of Korean people.

Aside from its popular skin-care and cosmetic industries, South Korea is famous worldwide for being the world’s Plastic Surgery Capital.

Plastic surgery in Korea are high in quality and therefore it’s not surprising that South Korea has the highest rate of these surgeries per person in the world.

Although this might not seem like a big problem, nowadays people’s professional skills and achievements are often judged by their appearance.

This tendency is especially harsh on women who are often turned down for jobs because of their appearance, so they have to follow beauty standards closely.

This phenomenon is called look-ism or 외모지상주의 oemojisangjuui.

This phenomenon takes a huge toll, especially on young girls, who often feel dissatisfied with their physical appearance and always seek to improve it.

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Hanbok // The Complete Guide to the Traditional Korean Clothing

Hanbok is a traditional Korean clothing. Koreans wear it on important days, such as Seollal or weddings. Check out this article to know more about it.

What are your thoughts on Korean Beauty Standards? Have you purchased any Korean beauty products yourself?

Please drop us a comment below on your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you.

BONUS | If beauty standards in Asia fascinates you, why not take a look at our guide to Chinese Beauty Standards and Chinese makeup PLUS Japanese beauty standards, Russian beauty standards and Japanese makeup trends.

Korean Beauty Standards || FAQs

What are the basic Korean beauty standards for a beautiful female face?

A basic standard for a beautiful female would be a small face with pale skin and big eyes.

In Korea the V-shaped jaw is particularly revered. This is known as V자형얼굴 (jahyeong-eolgul)

How to say ‘face’ in Korean?

Face in Korean is 얼굴 eolgul.

How to say ‘eyes’ in Korean?

Eyes in Korean is 눈 nun.

How to say ‘lips’ in Korean?

Lips in Korean is 입술 ibsul.

What is 애교살 (aegyo-sal)?

애교살 (aegyo-sal) is a popular makeup trend.

This makeup look includes highlighting a line underneath one’s eye to make it look bigger and give the person a more lively look.

What does ‘허벅지 틈’ means?

 허벅지 틈 (heobeogji teum) is ‘thigh gap‘ in Korean.

Want More From LTL?

FANCY LEARNING KOREAN? Check out our online Korean courses here.

We offer a 7-day free trial to all online students where you can study Korean 24/7.

Want to study Korean in Korea instead? Our Korean courses in Seoul can either be taken in small groups of no more than 5 students or individually for a more tailored experience.

We even offer incredible homestay experiences in Seoul too.

To top it all off, it certainly doesn’t end with Korean. Check out the other languages we teach 👇🏻

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  1. korean beauty standards – Relevant Archive

    […] But aside from a preferred weight, there are other standards for a beautiful body in Korean culture.… […]

  2. Peggy Farbotko

    The skin care of both men and women of Korea shows the high regard they have for their appearance. I find that highly commendable! People’s first impression of you is thru your appearance first! It is always best to make that effort the most memorable one.

    1. Max Hobbs

      They really do make an effort don't they?!

  3. Akash kariyawasam

    Do you have plastic surgery for your mouth to be beautiful like a Korean?

  4. Korean Beauty Standards Explained in 2023 - MyBeauties

    […] Korean magnificence requirements place important emphasis on attaining an general harmless and youth… A small face, massive eyes, and a slim physique are central to recreating this desired look. In comparison with Western magnificence beliefs, which can prioritize extra glamorous and daring options, Korean magnificence leans in the direction of cuter and extra female attributes. […]

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