Korea is arguably one of the most beauty obsessed countries in the world. It can dispute that all it wants, but never in all my travelling days, have I see so many shops specifically dedicated to the beautification of oneself. In the UK we have Boots and Superdrug, which obviously contain a lot of the mainstream western cosmetics, and then the department stores have perfume/makeup floor, but I haven’t actually seen anything but a brands counter as a concession in the UK, as in, I’ve never seen, say, a three floor shop dedicated to solely selling Rimmel products.
In Korea though, I can easily rattle off the names of some of the biggest brand stores for cosmetics the country has to offer, and if I flip through a couple of the more ~touristy~ photos I’ve taken in places like Myeongdong, there are only a handful where there aren’t any signs for cosmetic stores. These shops are literally everywhere, on every street, and they’re not just for girls.
Ok so when I say ‘these shops aren’t just for girls’, I don’t mean all of them, or that I’ve grown up with the views that boys shouldn’t or can’t wear make-up and was thoroughly shocked when I saw the male section in Etude House, and that the majority of the shops are endorsed by male idols. (I haven’t, and never will be shocked by the notion that boys can and do indeed wear makeup when I’ve been 95% desensitised to everything thanks to a heavy appreciation of Japanese rock music.)
What I’m actually saying is, the entire beauty industry isn’t just targeted at females like it is in the west. And where I do think South Korea is rather backwards on a vast number of issues, this one actually makes me really happy.
Like, really happy, because this whole topic is seen so much as a female issue and I’ve seen a lot of guys complain that ‘hey girls, at least you get make-up to hide flaws’ and Korea kind of just, strikes through that whole argument.
This seems like such a gloss over the cosmetic empire over here but midterms are calling, yay, and I do plan to write posts about each of the shops and do a couple of reviews or something – since cosmetics are a vice of mine…
Anyway – the only problem I have with all of this cosmetic overkill really, is the amount of choice. It’s overwhelming. It’s also something my bank balance is not all too happy with, since cosmetics over here are much, much less expensive than in the UK for absolute on-point quality. Cosmetics over here are insanely good, and if you ever get the chance to try them, I really suggest you do.
(((I’ve also never seen so many plastic surgery clinics advertised with massive posters in subway stations but that is another post (and possibly my dissertation) entirely. )))