Baby-faced Lee Hye-jin, a 29-year-old office worker in Seoul with big eyes and a small, rounded face, is one of the lucky ones as far as many Koreans are concerned. On every blind date or job interview she’s ever been on, Lee said one of the first things she hears is, “You are such a dongan!” The Korean word refers to someone who looks younger than his or her age.
For many Korean women, being compared to popular, innocent-looking celebs like Shin Min-ah and Uee of girl group After School comes as a flattering compliment. But Lee said that the word “bagel girls,” a fad term in Korea referring to these female stars, is “creepy” and “offensive towards women.” It is a rough portmanteau of baby-faced and glamorous (“glamorous” in Korea often refers to a woman with large breasts and hips).
“I’m young already – how much younger looking do I need to be? And what is this concept of wanting a baby’s face attached to big breasts? It’s like they want me to be a baby and a fully-grown woman at the same time . . . It’s ridiculous,” Lee said.
“It’s one thing to say that on a date or casual meeting but when someone compliments me for being a dongan during a job interview, it doesn’t seem right.”
Ma Seung-gi, 45, one of the contestants on the SBS program Dongan Contest last year, has an 18-year-old son. Captured from the showLee isn’t alone in feeling the ill vibes attached to the recent dongan trend in Korea. In numerous interviews with the local media, actress Shin Se-kyung, one of the first celebs here to be dubbed a bagel girl, remarked that she does not like being called either term and prefers to be referred to as a smart or quality actress rather than being objectified as “innocent yet sexy looking.”
But if beauty and plastic surgery trends are as telling as they seem, the dongan is here to stay, and Korean women are going to extreme lengths to transform there faces to adhere to these standards. From fast-selling anti-aging cosmetic products to high-risk jaw surgeries, it seems there is little some women won’t do to look young, innocent and sexy.
Botox, BB creams and jaw replacements for the ideal baby face
Plastic surgery trends have veered away from the relatively simple double eyelids and nose jobs to “petit” and “royalty” cosmetic surgeries, which refer to smaller-scale cosmetic procedures that focus on putting extra volume in cheeks, under eyes and on foreheads.
“Up to the 1990s, Koreans were mostly concerned about making their eyes bigger and noses higher, but as cosmetic surgery advanced, people wanted natural-looking jobs that create a youthful, fresh face,” said Hong Jeong-geun, director of Metro Plastic Surgery Clinic in Seoul.
Along with these less obtrusive surgeries, however, a more invasive, high-risk facial surgery that Koreans call yangak susul, a form of bimaxillary osteotomy surgery that involves cutting the upper and lower parts of the jaw, has gained popularity here.
First grabbing headlines after a handful of local celebs went through the procedure, including Shin Eun-kyung, Kim Ji-hye and Sin-I, the procedure is often referred to as the ultimate dongan surgery by making the jaw more rounded. After actress Shin Eun-kyung revealed her before-and-after photos, media reports raved about how much younger-looking she had become.
But the extreme course doesn’t come without its risks.
“Yangak susul is only meant to be done in very severe, abnormal cases in which patients have lower jaw protrusions or cross-bites. It is not meant to be performed as a beauty surgery as it is severely invasive with high risks of damaging nerves,” said Hong.
“Even as a plastic surgeon, I think the dongan trend and the surgeries that go with it are becoming excessive. Korean women are getting worryingly numb about changing their face through artificial means.”
The more common path to a dongan face is through the widely available cosmetics products. In the latest survey conducted by the Korea Food and Drug Administration, the number of dongan-related anti-aging beauty products sold in the country rose by 13 percent last year compared to 2010. The administration also stated that while in the past whitening products, or lotions that make one’s face brighter and paler, were top sellers, these days anti-wrinkle and anti-oxidant products are sweeping through the market.
“Ten or 20 years ago, the main makeup trend here was basically to make a Western kind of face. The goal was to make your eyes look bigger, your nose higher and your face sharper,” said Choi Eun-young, head professor of the cosmetology department at Hanseo University.
“But with the dongan trend, Korean women concentrate more on making their skin more youthful looking and their features to look innocent and baby-like, hence the popularity of BB creams [blemish balm creams] and shimmer products.”
Shim Jae-hong, head dermatologist at CNP Cha & Park, said the pressure to look baby-like has resulted in dermatological innovations, with the new laser treatments being used commonly including erbium, ultrasound and Nd:YAG, among others.
“The essence of a baby-like face is in volume. In the past, there was more of an emphasis to stop skin from sagging by snipping excess skin like in a facelift,” said Shim.
“But these days, it’s all about volume repair, filling in your cheeks or other parts that lose fat as you age through artificial means including Botox, fillers or laser treatments.”
Idol stars and rapid modernization fuel dongan trend
Although on the surface, the dongan trend taps into vanity-related issues, for many Korean women the benefits of being a dongan reach all areas of their lives, including their marriage and career. Kim Se-won, a 26-year-old job seeker, confessed that she recently consulted a plastic surgeon before attending her job interviews scheduled for the latter part of this year.
“I went with my mom to see several plastic surgeons to see what kinds of procedures I can do to look younger,” said Kim.
“With youth unemployment skyrocketing, everyone around me has a very good resume already, graduating from good schools with good grades and so on. The last step for me, to make myself more competitive, is to enhance my looks.”
Kim Mi-youn, an employee at Duo, Korea’s biggest matchmaking company, said the effects extend to relationships.
“The younger looking you are as a woman the better, because when men consider marriage, they worry about whether the woman is of an appropriate age to have a baby, and that she is not too old to have one,” Kim said.
According to Lee Na-young, a professor at the sociology department of Chung-Ang University, the obsession among Koreans to be or look young stems from the contradictory values of modern Koreans and the influence of the current youth-obsessed culture mixed with the male-dominated values of Confucian traditions.
“At least in the United States, the ‘Lolita complex,’ or wanting young women and viewing them as sexual objects, is seen as taboo,” said Lee.
“But in highly competitive Korea, because the country has modernized so rapidly, these taboos are not mentioned, in which case these celebs proudly declare themselves as bagel girls or dongan and men are not scrutinized for preferring younger women.”
Professor Lee added that the Hallyu and teen idol culture in Korea has also played a significant role in spreading the dongan trend.
“It’s very strange that the number one priority that Korean society sets for teens is to study hard and get into a good university, but that in mass media, teen idol groups are revered for their youth and sexuality. It shows that Korean society, in regards to sexuality and age, is very confused,” she said.
Park Eun-jin, a graduate student at Yonsei University’s cultural anthropology department who worked for the Korean Women’s Environmental Network, agrees that labels like bagel girl and dongan, are a product of a youth obsessed media and a highly competitive culture here.
“Popular culture in Korea asks the impossible of women – to be immature but nurturing and competent at the same time,”Park said.
“We are supposed to look like babies but be glamorous and sexy as well as be maternal and make lots of money. It just goes to show you how confused people are in their values in this dizzyingly competitive country.”
It’s a common fantasy among K-pop fans: Somehow, someway, Lee Hong-gi of FT Island invites you over to listen to his newest tracks. Suddenly, Choi Jong-hoon jumps out in attack mode, and you find yourself in a full-on pillow fight with the boy band members.
Pass through the gates of the K-pop Entertain-Art Show at the Korea International Exhibition Center (Kintex) in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, and this fantasy can become a reality – or at least look like it did through a camera lens.
Through the use of the French art concept trompe l’oeil, a technique that depicts realistic imagery in order to create a three-dimensional optical illusion, this exhibit enables avid K-pop fans to pose with their favorite stars as if those entertainers were standing right in front of them.
Although the “trick art” show originated in France, the style caught on in Japan and eventually made its way to Korea. This is the first time an exhibit of this nature has focused on Hallyu stars.
“We wanted to provide entertainment from K-pop that everybody could enjoy and afford,” an official of the K-pop Entertain-Art Show said.
“Many people are not able to attend celebrity signings or K-pop concerts due to time constraints or the hefty prices. We created a space where they can come and freely enjoy viewing the show and involve themselves in K-pop events.”
While it may not be as exciting as an in-person encounter with K-pop stars, for just 12,000 won ($10.40) fans can stand next to paintings of their favorite stars and take snapshots that look like they were right there with them.
With the authorization to creatively draw the Hallyu stars resting in the hands of their respective agencies, artist Park Hyong-duk and 14 others collaborated to gain the rights to create images of a wide range of celebrities, including Son Dam-bi, Super Junior, CN Blue, 2PM and TVXQ.
The venue is designed in a zigzagging pattern with designated spaces for each celebrity or band where numerous artworks can be found.
The exhibition itself is divided into three sections: the Star Zone, Theme Zone and Special Zone.
In the Star Zone, the most striking painting is one of girl group KARA. Using an art technique that resembles a moving picture, each of the five members of the group is painted on a cube-like sculpture side by side, and as soon as the observer moves, each member seems to move as well.
The Special Zone is where people can get a glimpse of what trick art is all about. The Ames Room within the zone offers an optical illusion reliant on relativity. One can seem to have a bigger or smaller physique depending on which side of the room the person is located. The secret to this type of art technique is that the room is asymmetrical.
The paintings were done by hand, yet quite a lot have a very life-like feel. Jo Jae-in, 15, came to the art show with her sister and mother.
“It was awesome to see my favorite signers, the Wonder Girls,” Jo said. “It felt like I was standing right next to them.”
The K-pop Entertain-Art Show is being held at Kintex located in Ilsan, Gyeonggi. Take subway line No. 3 to Daehwa Station, exit No. 2. The exhibition runs through Aug. 19. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but tickets should be purchased before 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.interpark.com. For more information, visit blog.naver.com/kpopartshow or call (02) 512-9790.
If you want to change your look, you might consider cutting off your bangs. However, you also might hesitate because it takes a long time to grow them back once you’ve cut them off.
Here are some examples of celebrities with and without bangs. Let’s see which hairstyle would suit you the best.
◇ SNSD’s Taeyeon and Park Bo Young: “They’re cuter with bangs.”
SNSD’s Taeyeon is popular among men because of her white skin and cute face. However, she was once humiliated because of her long hair without bangs when she was a member of Tae Ti Seo because she looked older than her actual age, and it even seemed that she had had plastic surgery.
However, she recently appeared at a production report press conference for the movie I AM with bangs and received a comment that she looked younger than her actually age, which was completely different from the earlier impression sha gave.
Also actress Park Bo Young, who is in the recently released movie Unidentified Video, appeared at a production report press conference for that movie with bangs that sparsely exposed her forehead. Because she has a pretty forehead, she still looks good with long straight hair without bangs. However, she looked cuter with the bangs.
◇ SNSD’s Jessica and Miss A’s Suzy create innocent looks without bangs
Some celebrities grow their bangs as summer comes. Bangs are the best hairstyle for creating a younger look. These particular celebrities, however, gave up on their bangs because they can cause skin troubles. For them, the bangless style looks good.
SNSD’s Jessica and Miss A’s Suzy have usually shown their foreheads since their acting debut.
When they have bangs, they look cute and lively. However, they look innocent when they have long straight hair without bangs.
◇ Kim Tae Hee, Son Ye Jin, and Song Hye Kyo
Actresses So Ye Jin, Kim Tae Hee, and Song Hye Kyo, representative beauties of Korea, usually opt for feminine, elegant hairstyles.
In SBS TV’s drama series Stairway to Heaven, Kim showed off her beautiful face with her hair tied back.
She is more beautiful when she exposes her forehead.
Son tries various hairstyles. Because she has well-defined features, she looks good with just about any hairstyle.
When she was appearing in KBS TV’s drama series Summer Scent, she showed off her innocent look with her bangs swept back to the side. Unlike the regular straight bangs, Son’s bangs can easily suit anyone.
Song, an actress who has a doll-like face, is one of the celebrities who look cute with bangs. When she exposes her forehead, she looks mature. However, she looks cute and younger with bangs Source:Money Today
Big Bang ranked first and second on the most watched K-pop music video chart of YouTube for the first half of this year.
On July 16, YouTube officially announced the top ten K-pop music videos that people watched the most on YouTube during the first half of this year, and Big Bang ranked first and second with “Fantastic Baby” and “Blue,” the songs of their fifth EP released in February.
The music video of “Fantastic Baby” has received over 30 million hits from all over the world on Big Bang’s official YouTube channel. The music video of “Blue” also received over 25 million hits.
Big Bang also ranked fourth and sixth with the music videos of “Bad Boy” and “Monster,” the lead song of their special album released in June on the most watched K-pop music video chart.
SNSD-Tae Ti Seo’s “Twinkle” and f(x)’s “Electric Shock” ranked third and fifth. Sistar’s “Alone,” SHINee’s “Sherlock,” The Wonder Girls’ “Like This,” and 4Minute’s “Volume Up” ranked from sixth to tenth.
Sistar’s “Alone” ranked first on the top ten of the Korean’s most watched K-pop music video chart. People are commenting that Sistar became one of the top girl groups by this song released in April.
Tae Ti Seo’s “Twinkle,” The Wonder Girls’ “Like This,” Big Bang’s “Blue” and “Fantastic Baby,” f(x)’s “Electric Shock,” T-ara’s “Lovey-dovey,” Big Bang’s “Monster,” Busker Busker’s “Cherry Blossom Ending,” and IU’s “Every End of the Day” ranked from second to tenth on the top ten of the Korean’s most watched K-pop music video chart
Super Junior’s Yesung and Eunhyuk recently took pictures with SNSD’s Jessica and f(x)’s Krystal.
On July 16, Yesung tweeted pictures with the comment, “With Jung sisters after a long time and Eunhyuk joins the queue.”
In the pictures, Jessica and Krystal are wearing pink clothes and posing with a pink bowtie wearing Yesung, and Eunhyuk, who is making a funny face.
Since all four are from the same agency, SM Entertainment, they showed off their close friendship through the pictures. The sisters Jessica and Krystal drew a lot of attention by being named the Jung sisters.
People responded: “They are beautiful and handsome.” “I really like the Jung sisters! They are pretty.” “They look close.” “Why are they gathering together?”
Singer IU recently finished her first tour in Korea.
IU began her nationwide tour starting in June in Seoul through July 15 in Daegu. She successfully held concerts for roughly two months.
IU performed in theater type of venue in six cities, including, Seoul, Ulsan, Jeonju, Suwon, Busan, and Daegu to give music focused performances. She played the guitar and also danced to show off her various talents.
As a female soloist, who is in her 20s, IU showed off her power in ticket sales by selling 90 percent of the tickets on average over eleven concerts. Over 20,000 people attended her concerts.
She also selected a large repertoire for her concerts so that fans young and old could enjoy the concert together. She worked with music director and songwriter G. Gorilla and chose various genres of songs, including, dance, ballad, acoustic, and trot.
Many celebrities, including, Lee Juk, Lee Seung Gi, 2AM, Sung Si Kyung, K. will, Kim Tae Woo, Leessang, Sunny Hill, Jia, Haha, No Hong Chul, Norazo, Sweet Sorrow, Mighty Mouth, Huh Gak, and Two Months attended the concerts as guests to help IU.
IU says, “I was so nervous and worried a lot about holding the concerts. But thanks to all my fans and the audience who came to see my concerts, I was able to complete it successfully. I feel like I have grown up through the concerts and I will try my best to become the best singer on stage.”
IU will release her second Japanese single You and I on July 18.
Top K-pop singers plan to take the United States by storm soon.
The ’2012 K-pop Super Concert in America’ will be held at the Home Depot Center in LA, California, USA on August 10.
Top nine K-pop singers, including, SNSD, SHINee, 2PM, 2AM, CNBLUE, KARA, SISTAR, Secret, and MBLAQ, will attend the concert. The venue can hold 27,000 people, which is the biggest number among all K-pop concerts in American history. Around 500 staff members prove that it will be the best concert ever.
On July 10, the concert created its official Facebook account (http://www.facebook.com/AbsoluteKpop) and received considerable attention in the United States. Over 300,000 people visited the account and the concert is expected to become the best concert to promote the K-pop craze.
The concert will air on SBS as a special concert in LA.
On July 16, AOA (Ace of Angels), the first girl group from FNC Entertainment, which represents FT Island, CNBLUE, and Juniel, released the one of the group member’s first teaser.
The teaser was for Seol Hyun, who has the angel name Seolhyunari, also known as the brain among the angels. She was born in 1995 and has appeared in a music video for FT Island’s song “Severely” and drew a lot of attention as a heroine.
FNC Entertainment released a story of the girl group under the title ’7+1 Story of Angels’ on their official website and official group site (www.a-o-a.co.kr). They will unveil eight group members starting on July 16 through 23 through the websites.
On July 17, the second member of the group will be unveiled.
T-ara’s So Yeon and Bo Ram recently showed off their beautiful appearances.
On July 15, So Yeon tweeted a picture of herself and Bo Ram with the short comment, “For the first time after a long time.”
In the picture, So Yeon is wearing a sleeveless dress with eye makeup. Her Barbie doll like appearance drew a lot of attention and captured the male fans’ hearts. Bo Ram also made the female audience feel jealous of her sharp nose and big doe eyes.
People who saw the picture responded: “So Yeon and Bo Ram are very beautiful.” “They look like goddesses.” “Just looking at them makes me happy.” “Both look like dolls.”
T-ara held a ceremony for their official fan club Queen’s on July 14 at Kyunghee University.
New singing group NU’EST, who recently released their first EP titled “Action,” was selected as the best new singing group of 2012 in a survey conducted by an overseas website.
For two weeks, nearly 250,000 people participated in this survey, conducted by an overseas website named Seoulbeat. Around 110,000 (43.23%) voted for NU’EST, and NU’EST was selected as the best new singing group.
Seoulbeat is an overseas website that delivers news about K-pop. Carrying out surveys of various subjects, it’s popular among many overseas K-pop fans.
Pledis Entertainment, NU’EST’s agency, says, “We’re very happy to hear that NU’EST was selected as the best new K-pop singing group of 2012 despite the fact that it’s been only four months since they made their debut. To thank the overseas fans of NU’EST, NU’EST members are currently preparing to hold a concert in Japan this month. They’ll also visit other countries soon.”
NU’EST released their first EP, “Action,” on July 11 and are currently receiving a lot of attention by presenting a charismatic, manly performance for the song.