Monthly Archives: May 2014

Real Talk: Kpop and Self-Image

Kpop is a lot of fun. The catchy songs, the expression of emotion that isn’t stopped by language barriers and the charismatic and beautiful artists are just a few of the appeals of Kpop.

When I first got into kpop and kdramas, I was astonished at how seemingly naturally beautiful the men and women were – even the ones considered to be ugly! It all seemed fine for a while, but soon it started to affect me. I felt insecure how artists younger than me were so much more beautiful (and I’m only 19). And I started to hate my own appearance. I got so caught up in the ideals of beauty in Korea and almost obsessed with the idea of fitting in with those demands.
This is an issue that many people have faced. To outsiders of Korea, like myself, it looks to us like idols are born totally stunning and were always wearing minimal makeup (with exception of perhaps some eyeliner for effect). It was frankly depressing and I found my desire to live up to those ideas and my inability to do so actually made me depressed and it almost ruined Kpop and Kdramas for me!
If you find yourself in the same position as I was in, there are a few things you need to know:

They are constantly modelling

Idols and stars aren’t just at work when they’re on set or in the studio, they are at work all the time. And that means that any time you see them, any time a camera is on them or they are getting attention, they will be wearing makeup, someone will have done their hair (and will be keeping it neat all day) and their outfits have been designed for them. They might be naturally swag people, but their entire appearance has been designed for the public to look at them and go ‘wow’.

Someone is always thinking about how they look

They don’t just get their clothes from a store like normal people or just put on any mix of clothes in the morning. They, or someone else, always has to think about their appearance and looking their best and modelling the products they have to.
Even if they are wearing a store-bought item, the chances are that it’s been altered to perfectly compliment them or chosen specifically to look perfect. They have tailored outfits and everything is coordinated. All. The. Time.
I personally feel bad that they can’t just go out or take a flight without having to be put in some outfit. It must get really uncomfortable and it probably makes it very hard to relax, but it’s part of their job.

Chances are they’ve had cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery is a huge deal in Korea and these days it’s even become normal for surgery to be given as a gift for birthdays, graduations, weddings, etc. It isn’t healthy and only feeds into the beliefs that the beautiful faces our genes gave us aren’t good enough. While I’m at times tempted by the idea of fixing up things I’d like to change about my appearance, I don’t understand the obsession.
But if even the normal person on the street is getting surgery, then celebrities definitely are as, just like everywhere else, they have to be the epitome of beauty and style. Just a few seconds of Googling with find you hundreds of ‘Before/After surgery’ pictures of celebrities and interviews where artists let slip the procedures they’ve had done.
Ever wonder why the members of some kpop groups look scarily similar? It’s the Gangnam face, baby!

Everything is tailored

Do the poorest kids in Korea really have the best phones and clothes all the time? Is everyone in a Korean school really as gorgeous and rich as Lee Min Ho? Can women seriously stay a size 0 while guzzling down ramen 6 times a day? If a guy is in love with you, will he really be constantly yelling at you and insulting you? Are Korean parents really all terrifying evil people who want to control you or send your boyfriend/girlfriend out of the country? No.

Kdramas are fantasies. I know many people who will be upset to hear that, but it’s true. And it doesn’t make them any less enjoyable to accept that and it’s better for you if you do. Dramas, no matter what country you are in, are fantasy, because people like to escape from reality.
The clothes, makeup, characters, technology, lighting, sets – even the actor’s heights (!)- are manipulated to show you an industry crafted ideal that you are supposed to crave and invest a lot of money in pursuing. It’s the same in media everywhere.

You can’t assume their feelings

Just because you see an idol smiling and having a good time on camera, doesn’t mean they are happy. Their lives are controlled by their contracts, managers, schedules, paycheques and diets. They have little to no freedom to do, dress, date, spend, eat or speak as they want.

The life of an idol in Korea is very difficult and sometimes they are treated very poorly by the companies they work for, but they still have to be able to hide it all and perform for the camera as if they are the happiest person in the world, especially within performing groups, who have to give the appearance of being best buddies with each other (just look at the falling out in T-ARA as an example).
The life of an idol is hard and they have to be the appearance of perfection at the same time, so don’t just take their smiles as truth. They’ve got a tough lot.

So remember that no-one is perfect and being the industry standard of beautiful isn’t as wonderful as it may seem. The artists that you look at have had to suffer a lot, from dieting to fit their tiny outfits to cosmetic surgery that changes their faces permanently. It isn’t easy and the more you work to fit the criteria, the more work and pressure it becomes.

The world would be a happier and more confident place if we accepted and were accepted for our natural beauty. So love yourself, love each other and know that your beauty isn’t determined by your makeup or clothes. As G-Dragon said, “It isn’t about having the money for the expensive clothes, it is about how you wear them.”

 

The 14th in Korea- A special day every month!

Korea loves a celebration and the 14th is a day to remember. And I don’t mean the 14th of one month – I mean every month!

In Korea, as well as celebrating anniversaries and 100th Day, some young people – particularly couples – like to celebrate on the 14th of every month.
In Korea, there is a celebration day on the fourteenth day of EVERY month, often celebrating love and relationships (a bit tough on any single people).

These days are mostly intended for teenagers and young adults, but some people like having the excuse to show particular affection to their loved one.

So, from Diary Day to Hug Day, here are all of those special dates you want to remember for you and your loved one.

January 14th – Diary Day
As many Koreans like to keep diaries, January 14 is a day where couples traditionally give each other a diary as a gift and a cute token to begin the year with. It’s a cute idea for a tradition and also means that, when couples write in their diaries, they think of their loved one.
Also, as a handy reminder, couples like to mark the diaries with all the dates of anniversaries and special occasions that the couple share for their other half!

February 14th – Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is very common celebration all around the world – a day where people confess their love to their crushes and when couples make a great effort to celebrate their love for each other. People give gifts, chocolates, poems (and even sometimes rings) to the one they love.
Sometimes people also make it a statement of proving love, sometimes by sacrificing their dignity to make a display of affection.
In Korea and Japan, it is traditional that women give handmade chocolates to men to show their feelings. And, if it works, their efforts are rewarded the following month! While, male colleagues or friends are given store-bought chocolates (in Japan known as義理チョコ / Giri choco, literally meaning ‘obligation chocolate’) to show friendship or consideration.

March 14th – White Day
White Day is the day that the men reciprocate the love to the ladies in their lives by giving them cute candies (not chocolates) as a token of affection. Often they are heart-shaped or cute.
A lot of men also give candies to friends and co-workers as a gesture as well.
Sweet!

April 14th – Black Day
Black day is a less joyous day than Valentine’s Day or White Day. Black Day is the day in Korea where single people, who did not receive anything on Valentine’s Day or White Day, gather in groups, to eat 자장면 (Jajangmyeon – a noodle dish topped with a black soy bean sauce called Chunjang 춘장 ) to mark being single.
Not so much a celebration day, but a good excuse to get together for Chinese food!

May 14th – Rose Day/Yellow Day
Rose Day: A day where people give a yellow rose to their loved one, or arrange a date somewhere that has roses.
Yellow Day: If a single person couldn’t have Jajangmyeon on Black day, they eat yellow rice and wear yellow clothes in the hope of finding someone by the next year. Some people wear full yellow outfits and spend all day eating bananas!
June 14th – Kiss Day
This is for singles and couples alike: Everyone tries to get a kiss with the person they like!

June 14th – Kiss Day

Pucker up, because Kiss day is the day you may get to plant one on the one you love.

Kiss day is about trying to win that kiss from the person you have in your heart. Good Luck!

July 14th – Silver Day
On this day couples exchange gifts made of silver, like jewlry or charms, as a sign of commitment.
Or, some people also go on a date where the older person in the relationship picks up the bill!

August 14th – Green Day
My first guess for this one was that couples sit together listening to the band Green Day, but instead they are supposed to walk in the woods wearing green while single people drink Soju, as it usually comes from a green bottle.

September 14th – Photo Day
As expected, couples go out on this day to take photos together to capture their love. It is common to go to a beautiful place, such as Insa-dong, for the occasion.

October 14th – Wine Day
Everyone drinks wine!

(Good news for me, with this day only about a week after my Birthday!)

November 14th – Movie Day/Orange Day
Exactly as the name suggests, couples go to see a movie together. However, on this day, the film should be accompanied with drinking orange juice.

December 14th – Hug Day
Everyone hugs the people they love. Whether single or not, this day is a lovely excuse to give your loved ones some affection (and can help everyone get into the Christmas spirit)

 

Cutest Korean Lessons Ever!

There are a couple videos doing the rounds around the internet at the minute of a little girl’s incredibly adorable reactions as her mother tries to teach her Korean and some valuable life lessons. This little cutie’s name is Yebin (예빈), a 2 years old from Korea whose her mother loves to capture her little girl’s adorableness on camera. Source: Drama Fever AND! These videos actually serve a good purpose in learning Korean, as it is often very helpful to hear a child learning a language to help your own. Not only does the mother’s clear pronunciation help us hear, but children often repeat things to help them learn, so we get the benefit of hearing it repeated a few times – and when it’s as cute as that how can we not remember?!

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After seeing a couple of her videos around the internet, I decided to find out where these videos were coming from. Turns out Yebin’s loving mother runs a facebook page for her daughter, where she posts pictures and videos of her super cute daughter, so other people can watch and go crazy over how adorable she is. For more pics and videos of little Yebin, check out her Facebook!

What do you think of this little cutie pie? Come and squee about her in the comments, or come tweet or Facebook us!