Two Eyes in the Mirror Discusses Beauty in Korea, Part 3: The Small-Face Phenomenon.

20 Apr

This is the third in a series of five guest posts by the delightful Ashley from Two Eyes in the Mirror, discussing Beauty in Korea. Different phenomenons, crazes, stats and the beauty dictatorship. You can see a list of contents in the introduction post. Come back tomorrow for part four!

Beauty in Korea: the Small-Face Phenomenon

This is part three in a five-post series about Beauty in Korea. You can see a list of contents in the introduction post.

In Korea–for reasons no one seems to understand–the smaller your face is, the more beautiful you are considered. Koreans commonly believe that a small face photographs extremely well, and most celebrities in Korea do have smaller faces. 1

Koh Ara, a model and actress, has a 17cm face.2 How big is yours?

Jaw Reduction Surgery
Jaw shaving, or jaw reduction surgery, is a surgical procedure that involves making the traditionally-wide Korean face smaller. This involves shaving down the chin and cheek bones or removing fat. 3 The chin can be reshaped into the desired “V-line,” or, if totally underdeveloped in the first place, a chin augmentation can be performed using a chin implant. Oval or round face shapes are not ideal; a heart-shaped face is considered the most beautiful.

Also available is a non-surgical jaw reduction that involves injecting Botox into the jaw muscle. When injected overtime, the Botox weakens the strength of the muscle and ultimately reduces the size of this muscle. This is much less risky than “jaw shaving.” 4

These are before and after pictures of a girl who underwent “square jaw reduction” in Seoul.5

Many Korean celebrities have had numerous plastic surgery procedures, including jaw reduction (although many do not admit it). Here are some before and after pictures of famous Korean celebrities:

Kim Ah Joong

Park Min Yeong

Korean announcer

Sneaky Photo Tricks
We’ve all read those crazy tips on how to look thin in photos. Well, Koreans have some tips of their own, only they use these tricks to make their face appear smaller in photos.

You can simply lean back a bit so your face is behind the other person’s in the picture, making yours appear smaller by nature…

Or you can just cover up half your face with your hands. 6

Do you think a small face is more beautiful? What would you be more apt to try: surgical jaw reduction or sneaky photo tricks? Neither? What about liposuction or a sneaky photo trick?


9 Responses to “Two Eyes in the Mirror Discusses Beauty in Korea, Part 3: The Small-Face Phenomenon.”

  1. Evelina April 20, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Wow – I think that’s a drastic procedure to do to one’s face… But I think that this definitely moves them towards the ultimate beauty ideal. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think this makes all these women look more and more alike to each other.

    As for me, I think I definitely do try to make my face look smaller in photos subconsciously.

    Also, I was wondering are these beauty standards directed primary/solely at women? Or to men as well?

    I think this is an enlightening series, and I commend you on how the posts are written – I feel that it’s fairly unbiased. 🙂

    • Lisa June 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

      You do a great job of writing your blog!

      But on your question to readers on a previous post–Both Westerners and South Koreans seem equally concerned with image. This is expressed in different ways–the fact that women in the US are willing to risk death (cancer) with tanning beds while South Koreans (Asians in general) spend tons of money on whitening cream.

      Also, about the traditionally “wide Korean face…” I would have to say that many, in fact most, of the Korean American gals and guys (mostly gals) I’ve met have small faces. (They’re in high school or middle school, so you know they didn’t get their jaw shaved, haha.)

  2. Nnenna Odeluga April 22, 2011 at 4:35 am #

    Wow, jaw reduction surgery sounds really frightening to me! I would really love to know where the ‘small face’ ideal originated from!

    star-crossed smile

  3. sapir July 25, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    Several injections
    Usually injected into the jaw

  4. Tomo Huang August 4, 2011 at 7:56 am #


  5. JH November 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    Smaller face signifies feminity while large bone structure signifies masculinity. Im not surprised many Koreans want the smaller face. But personally, changing your whole entire face with the “jaw reduction surgery” is outrageous its like changing what your mom and dad phyiscal traits given to you. Sorry not for me. -__-T

    Rather use makeup to make my face appear better. lol.

  6. stefano December 9, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    well my face is 18 cm.. from the top of my head front to my chin…
    and thats prettu normal here in latinamerica
    Sorry :/ but I think this “big face” problem is just in asian, or only in korea, i dont know
    But wow those pictures of before and after, i really cant beliebe it

  7. ... September 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    This a Korean misconception. Smaller faces relate to more femininity,child-like behaviour, lack on confidence and will.
    While wider jaws and bone structure relate to more masculine, sturdy and confident.
    Western culture is clearly different, most women considered beautiful have a wider jaw, bigger mouths and lips.
    Long and edgy faces have also the aggravated problem to pick hairstyles as a professional hairstylists will tell you so.

    I can’t avoid to feel a little pity for those that use this to change the bone structure they were born with, sometimes even with health complications. This does not change who you are, just who you perceive to be.
    If you want to look more beautiful I advise you to use hairstyles, makeup and cloths to achieve this.
    Most important of all be yourself and stay confident. That will shine through.


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