Lifestyle & Belief

South Korean beauty pageant faces controversy


Blogger Shenthewise collected photos of the Miss Daegu contest in South Korea, pointing out how similar the contestants all appear.



If Stepford held a beauty contest, it would have to look something like Miss Daegu.

This year’s contest in South Korea attracted 20 beautiful women and the keen eyes of Reddit contributor Shenthewise, who collected the contestants’ headshots and shaped them into one giant FemBot-style collage.

“Korea’s plastic surgery mayhem is finally converging on the same face,” a headline above the photos said.

And, true, the photos are strikingly similar.

Of the 20, they’re all wavy-haired brunettes with unblemished complexions and peachy-perfect makeup.

“I scrolled down before I read the title and thought, ‘wow, that girl looks great in so many different hair styles … now I’m terrified,” one reader named Squeri responded.

The similarities are blamed on South Korea’s fascination with plastic surgery (re: “Gangnam Style”).

“You don’t understand,” a university student told GlobalPost correspondent Geoffrey Cain earlier this year.

“To be Korean is to get plastic surgery,” said the girl, who has undergone three procedures. “You must do it, or young people will think you’re weird.”

More from GlobalPost: Plastic surgery, Gangnam style

As Cain writes, South Korea’s plastic surgery and medical tourism industries are booming, with many affluent Koreans happy to go under the knife and thousands from across Asia flocking to Seoul.

The phenomenon generated $116 million for South Korea’s economy in 2011, Cain said, a figure that’s doubled in five years.

But before we condemn the Miss Daegu contest, there has been some speculation the photos have all undergone computer manipulation.

They were probably Photoshopped somehow, as another on Reddit said after linking to the girls in a more natural photo shoot.

Also, the contestants are posing for publicity photos, meaning the backgrounds, lighting and soft focus gives them all a similar quality, especially when compared quickly.

Still, it doesn’t change the fact South Korean women aren’t immune to the phenomenon of chasing some idealized version of beauty so common in pageants across the globe.

That, however, is nothing new.

More from GlobalPost: South Korea’s dirty secret