Bloomberg Businessweek has a piece out today about makeup being the key for South Korean men to get ahead these days.
The metamorphosis of South Korean men from macho to makeup over the last decade or so can be partly explained by fierce competition for jobs, advancement and romance in a society where, as a popular catchphrase puts it, “appearance is power.”
According to global market research firm Euromonitor International, Korean men account for 21 percent of global sales for men’s skincare products –to the tune of $885 million in expected sales this year.
There’s all sorts of notable lines in the article, but the money graph is:
“I can understand why girls don’t like to go outside without makeup — it makes a big difference,” said Cho Gil-nam, a tall, stocky 27-year-old insurance fraud investigator in Seoul who starts important days by dabbing on makeup after finishing his multistep morning cleansing and moisturizing routine. He carries a multicolored cosmetics pouch so he can touch up in public bathrooms throughout the day.
The Grand Narrative’s James Turnbull is also quoted in the piece, saying that media influence on the trend can be traced back several years to the economic crisis when women were the first to be shown the door. This following them already being angered about previously seeing their push for equal rights take a backseat to protest movements against Japanese colonizers and the autocratic governments that followed.
“The times were ripe for a sea-change in the popular images of men in the media,” Turnbull said. Women, as a result, began questioning the kinds of men society told them they should find attractive.
Likewise, Kim Jong-hoon, a 27-year-old tech industry worker in Paju, blames his transformation on the media:
“My skin wasn’t bad, but the media constantly sends the message that skin is one of the most important things, so I wanted to take care of it,” Kim said.
In a related story, Yonhap ran a piece two weeks back about the country’s “mirror obsession,” with Yonsei student Park Min-woo saying:
“I may spend more time in front of the mirror than most girls,” he laughs. “I carry a portable mirror everywhere I go. It’s as important as my smartphone.”
(HT to Bradley Serl)