Tag Archives: korea

Why is Modern Korean culture so shallow?

Why is it shallow? If you mean by they care about their physical appearance more – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Our physical appearance is something that everyone always sees, and its the first thing people see about us. Whenever we buy a Macbook or an iPhone or gaze our eyes upon a stunning 4K OLED TV, or an Aston Martin, we are effectively being ‘shallow’ because we care about the appearance of other things in our life. So why not with people? We only have a limited amount of time on this Earth? Why not strive to improve our physical appearance as long as we have the youth and the time and capability to do so?

Koreans realize that there is value to be had in caring about appearance- actually all human beings subconsciously care about appearance (ask any guy who assigns ratings to girls on the scale of 1–10) – its just that Koreans realize this more than other people do. There’s value in looking good – people who look better are often treated better than ugly people – and this is true across different cultures. 
Ask anyone – How would you treat a guy who is wearing baggy shorts and a tshirt and completely bearded compared to that same person clean shaven wearing a suit? How would you treat a girl who is wearing slacks, hoodie and no makeup compared to the same girl wearing full makeup, one piece dress and high heels?
If your answer is ‘exactly the same’ then you are lying.

In any case there’s value to be had in caring about your outer beauty – (inner beauty of course is also important but it can’t be changed as easily) – and Koreans realize this. Other cultures are shallow too but in other ways. Why do Chinese people put so much value into showing off name brand items and wealth? Isn’t that a form of shallow-ness as well? Except in this case I would say there’s less benefit to be had. I would not treat someone who drove a Mercedes or carried a Louis Vuitton bag any different than someone who drove a Hyundai Accent and carried a no name wallet. And most people wouldn’t across the world. Perhaps in China there’s some value to be had but its not a transferable value. Unlike physical appearance which has transferable value anywhere in the world because EVERY CULTURE cares about physical beauty to some degree.Koreans just care about it more. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Between Korea, China, and Japan, which country has a more “intense” work culture (on average)?

I’ve only worked in Korea, not in Japan or China but I’m inclined to say Korea because:

  1. they have 눈치 culture which means you gotta respect your seniors and boss and cannot say anything back. For example you cannot leave your work until your boss does
  2. 회식 which is a type of dinner you have with your coworkers, but you cannot refuse. Your boss invites you to go drinking, you have to go because of 눈치 and sometimes your work details can be affected as a result of these dinner meetings
  3. There’s no separation of personal and work life. Your work life is your personal life. If you got pregnant, you have chance of getting fired. If you got a needy bf/gf? too bad that decreases your chances of getting hired or keeping your job.
  4. 9–6 is the common Korean work hours shift, but its not uncommon to see people working until 9pm, 10pm, midnight, or even 1–2am. Working weekends is normal too.
  5. Its frowned upon to switch companies. If you have too many companies on your resume your new employers might question your loyalty and refuse to hire you.

In my experience meeting Japanese and Chinese people, it seems Japan work culture is very similar but maybe not quite as intense as Korea (90% as intense?) after all Korea’s strict hierarchical work culture comes from Japanese work culture.

In contrast Chinese work culture seems more similar to American work culture and they seem to have little of any of these things. Sure people work overtime in China too especially in cities like Beijing or Shanghai but I think overall Chinese work culture is more flexible and loose.

Why does South Korea have the biggest beauty industry (cosmetics, fashion, cosmetic surgery, etc.) in all of Asia?

It’s a good question. I think – and this is my theory – the more diverse a country is, the more lax the beauty standards are. Why? Because when you have a diverse population, you cannot really enforce any beauty standards as everyone is so different.

Like in the USA, there’s so many different races and types of people. How can you have any effective beauty standard? Or China, which has something like 50+ different ethnicities living there. You can’t even push the same beauty standards that Northern Chinese have onto Southern Chinese, they are very different people. India? Yeah same thing, you can’t push one beauty standard onto 1.3+ billion people.

Korea is unique in that it is one of the only countries in the world, and might be the only developed country in the world – that consists of 99% one race. It’s utterly homogenous. Not only that but they have a collectivist culture where people stick together. This is basically the easiest environment in which a strict beauty standard could emerge.
-Small area and population? check
-Society is Confucist, conformist and collectivist? check
-99% one race? check

I mean, you might notice that even North Korean girls (the ones in the rich areas of Pyongyang at least) are better styled than the typical Chinese girl. A dictatorship where the people live like they are in the 1950s still have a higher beauty standard than China. Why is that? because of everything I said about Korea. Both North and South Korea are countries that are not diverse, are very uniform in thinking, with a small area and population.

This is Yeonmi Park, she is a North Korean girl who escaped North Korea and now lives in the US. Let’s face it – if you didn’t know she was North Korean, you would have thought she was a South Korean girl. You would not have thought someone so beautiful, was once struggling for food and survival in a destitute country, but its true. Something about Koreans (North and South) they innately care about their appearance more.

Edit: Japan as some people noted, is also very homogenous. They do have more population and somewhat more influence from indigenous people tho – that said Japan does have higher beauty standards than most other countries as well, probably second to Korea.

That’s my theory on why most countries in the world tend to have a very lax beauty standard, and Korea uniquely seems to have a high beauty standard.

Strangely enough, What do non-Koreans dislike about Korean culture and Korean people? non-Koreans seem to hate on Koreans for having a high beauty standard, which I don’t understand. We don’t hate on countries for having a high education or athletic standard, why is beauty different? Is being more beautiful seen as a negative thing?