South Korea boasts the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita than anywhere else in the world. It has become part of the Korean society where it’s not just a norm, but almost a necessity in the so-called “self-improvement” process. According to a 2012 report by The Economist, the United States ranks highest in terms of the total number of plastic surgeries performed in the past few years, however South Korea has the highest rate of cosmetic surgery per capita.
Ji Yeo is an artist pursuing her Master’s degree in Photography and her current works focus on ideas of “beauty” in contemporary culture, specifically in how women in our culture come to define and enforce an ideal of beauty on themselves. This is her comment on plastic surgery culture in South Korea :
“It is a culture where men are judged on their financial balance sheet and women by their beauty. The male-dominated media endlessly reinforces its model of the ideal woman”.
In April, we were disturbed by how the Miss Korea 2013 contestants shared these similar features – similar-shaped eyes, wide eyes and a narrow chin. But behind these heavily photoshopped images are bandaged women in wounded bodies, surgical bruises, hopping in and under general anesthesia just to plan more multiple procedures.
“Beauty Recovery Room” is a series of wounded faces and bodies of women who’ve recently undergone plastic surgery to show the physical cost of adhering to the social pressure in Korea. These haunting images show just how much the average Korean woman suffers just to obtain the beauty standard set by the media.