K-Pop and Plastic Surgery

I just got back from Singapore where I attended the Music Matters conference and managed to see a bunch of gigs by a series of Asian artists.  This included a performance by a six-piece all-female K-Pop group called A.O.A. (Ace of Angels).  (I know this Wikipedia entry says there are five members–or maybe eight–but I was at Clarke Quay Friday night and I can count to six.)

The group was carefully manufactured is just as carefully marketed to a young audience.  Here’s one of their hits.

There’s no doubt that each of the members of A.O.A. were chosen at least in part by their appearance. No shock there.  But what’s interesting is how the Photoshop perfection of K-Pop artists is leading to more South Koreans seeking plastic surgery.  

This is not healthy. Check out this article from The Atlantic.

When 17-year-old Hailey Kim looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see a pretty person. Her face is too round, she thinks; her lips too thin, her nose not quite right. Her reflection fuels a cosmetic surgery wish list — bigger lips, higher cheeks, and a more delicate chin. Unhappiness with appearance is de rigueur for many teenagers, but for Korean Americans perhaps more than any other ethnic group, this is increasingly being addressed with a scalpel.

California-born Kim has already undergone two procedures: a nose job and double eyelid surgery. These have given her eyes a Western crease and made her nose small and high. Kim had full support from her family for these operations. And why shouldn’t she? Her mother and aunts have all had similar operations. Kim hopes to study psychology when she goes to college, but she’s deferring for a year so she can work and save money for more surgery. If getting these procedures done is making Kim feel better about her appearance and her confidence, no one else should have any issues with this. As long as she is doing her research into finding the right professionals for the job, then that’s what will hopefully give her the results she is after. There’s nothing wrong with getting a few procedures done, if that’s what you want to do. Just be sure to do your research though. Maybe searching up something like Denver plastic surgery (if you live in and around this area) will lead you to the path of a professional surgeon who can give you the look you are after! You never know if you don’t at least look into it properly, rather than going for the cheapest surgeon you see first.

“My cousin had her nose and eyes done, my mom had her eyes done, and my aunts had noses and eyes done, all in Korea,” she says. “I found out about this when I was in elementary school.”

None of these operations, however, are as radical as what she wants to do next.

Continue reading.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “K-Pop and Plastic Surgery

  • May 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    My friends make fun of me because I like k pop. They use so many effects now in music videos to make them look better. Why do they need plastic surgery.

  • December 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    “These have given her eyes a Western crease” Where I stopped reading. Not every single Asian person has single fold eyelids. Maybe about 50%? Most of the time when people of East Asian descent get double eyelid surgery, they choose a crease style in keeping with their heritage. Assuming that Asian people try to appear more “Western” when consulting their physical appearance is an example of your internalized European enthocentrism.

    • February 19, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      If you kept reading, you would have seen how they clarify that asians aren’t trying to look western.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.