Photoshop Of Horrors: The Miss Korea Contestants Do Not Look The Same Because Of Plastic Surgery


Remember when those photos of the Miss [South] Korea 2013 contestants made waves because it looked like they’d all had plastic surgery to get the same face? And everyone believed the Reddit user who posted them, because he claimed to live in Seoul, and because one fifth of South Korean women get plastic surgery, so it seemed reasonable that more than one fifth of South Korean beauty pageant finalists would have had plastic surgery?

Well, it turns out we were being huge cultural imperialists again, because some newly surfaced un-retouched photos of the contestants show what they looked like before being heavily made up and retouched, and they look extremely different.

Asian American women’s magazine Audrey discovered the photos on a blog called Koreabang, and it seems we were all way too quick to jump to conclusions. As it turns out, before makeup and Photoshop, the contestants all look like distinct human beings and not one glowing, adorable, humanoid Borg:



Of course, even if it’s all Photoshop, one still has to question why any Photoshopper, American of Korean (and we definitely do it in America) would feel the need to shave everyone’s face down to fit one very narrow standard of beauty. Why does society want everyone to look the same? I’m reminded specifically of the “perfect woman” someone assembled via Photoshop, and how very unsettling she was. We can go back and forth about “natural beauty” and its merits, but on a purely shallow level, I think the contestants’ individual characteristics make them more appealing, not less, if for no other reason than they look like they would talk to you instead of stealing your essence.

(Via Audrey Magazine)

Photos: Ilbe

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    • MR

      Yeah, when I saw the first article I thought it was totally racist. My full experience, Asian women age very gracefully. Dark black hair has many colors that Westerners just don’t see.

      • shalom69

        the site they pulled the article from in the first place is the Korean equivalent of Stormfront. it’s a hate mongering site financed by the Chinese government, run by sexually frustrated expats.

        it would be like asking a bunch of skinheads to post articles about Israel. you get some retarded stuff.

    • Alle

      Anyone ever see Toddlers and Tiaras when they show those horrifying “Glitz photos”? And it’s basically a two-year old child photoshopped into this nightmarish mannequin? I just figured the same thing was going on here, and lo and behold!

      Seriously though, google image search “Glitz photos.” It’s so scary.

    • JM

      They’re Miss Daegu contestants, not Miss Korea 2013. The winner of that pageant will get to compete for the title of Miss Korea 2013. Also, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that one fifth of South Korean women have had surgeries. Jezebel and Daily Mail say that 1 out of 5 women in Seoul (capital city of South Korea) have had some kind of procedure done, not entire South Korea. I’m just glad that all those women don’t look like clones in real life. I think they look so much better without all that makeup and photoshop.

    • Camilla

      Most of the women actually look better pre-photoshop. In the photoshopped pictures they look like dolls, not people

      • Jim McMaster

        you’re high.

    • Rhys Branman

      Wow now that is disturbing. I’m going to call it sexist or racist or both!

      Dr Rhys Branman
      Little Rock Cosmetic Surgery Center

    • Treez

      the chick on the left in all the photos is the same chick, right?

      • ceesa


      • John Michael Sawyer

        Not in fact, but in essence

      • Taylor McCampbell

        No, that’s what all the controversy is about. Western eyes (and brains) are not good at picking out differences between individuals who are not Caucasian, african-american, or hispanic. This is due to the brain picking up on certain features in the facial recognition process. When confronted with orientals, our facial recognition goes down, because our brains pick up on the stark differences, the straight black hair and epicanthic folds of the eyes, which confounds our westernized recognition process. Any westerner who is raised in an oriental environment would readily see that these women do not all have the same face, because their brains would have been fine tuned to other features….

        This is not racist, by the way, it’s just a thing our brains do.

      • Treez

        I see what you are saying….but they are striving to look more western, sooo……

      • shalom69

        no do any of the girls on the left look “western” to you? they look like asian girls with makeup, plastic surgery and photoshop

        It’s not 1953. Today, not only in Korea but throughout Asia, the stereotypical perception of an American is someone fat, trigger happy and culturally sheltered who shops at walmart and doesn’t know their “there” “they’re” language as well as the typical educated Asian. not as some beauty ideal.

        the girls get surgery the same reason why the US leads the world in breast implants. beauty standards are local, in competition with other girls they see. they get surgery to look like pretty Korean girls, not some starlet in Hollywood

      • shalom69

        no instead of the fake science nonsense, it’s because humans PROJECT onto others. people who see asians as looking “the same” are people who in fact want to see asians people as the same.

        it’s like 30 years ago in the US when racists insisted that tall, steroid-injected black men with afros in shorts running around in the NBA all looked the same because “look at their wide noses and kinky hair and dark skin, who can dispute they look the same. white people just can’t tell those people apart”

      • dan

        Projection is part of it, but in the sense that we rely on stereotypes and generalizations to fill the voice created by our lack of actual experience.

      • dan

        the void*

      • lmf

        I absolutely do not “want” to see Asians as looking “the same”. In fact, I have an Asian daughter in law and have met many of her family and none of them “look the same”. Asians, blacks, Hispanics, whites, Native Americans, Middle Easterners each have some traits that may seem similar to those of opposite “races” because most of us have limited experiences with each other.

        I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong in wanting to improve your appearance. Obviously, many people go way overboard in that quest. I used to think Mickey Rourke was very sexy. He looks HORRIBLE now. But if a person is truly unhappy and self conscious with the way they look and can afford to change it, GO FOR IT! My daughter (age 31) is absolutely stunning when she’s all made up but she has a prominent (not large) nose and is embarrassed by it. Because her father thinks it’s a waste of money, I’ve told her I will pay for a nose job for her when he’s gone. She may have to live with it for a few more years (Love my man, but he is a cheapskate). One woman’s self esteem cannot be compared to another’s. We all have our own feelings. But it is sad to think about spending money for cosmetic reasons when there are so many people in the world who just need to have money for food.

      • dan

        This has nothing to do with western eyes and brains, and entirely based on western experiences. It’s not a coincidence that the three facial types that we apparently are good at are also the three most common in the west. Your genetics have nothing at all to do with this though.

      • Shadowsabound

        Close, but not quite. The HUMAN brain (not Western) is compartmentalized in such a way that the human face is processed separately from other visual data. Fine detail for faces is something that is essentially trained. People generally see faces of their own race or nationality more often than others (they see family daily), and those fine details are picked up easier by the brain. Its the same for whichever race or nationality you’d like to pick because the brain functions the same regardless of race or nationality.

      • excaliburr

        Um, I think this poster was being sarcastic, to make a point. You all took the comment too seriously.

      • Lee

        Looks like it to me.

    • McExpat

      I live in Asia (Vietnam) and am shocked to see almost every other woman, no matter how rich or poor, has gotten their noses and eyes “westernised”. They basically don’t look Vietnamese when you add bleached blonde hair. Cheap plastic surgery centers are plentiful and young women succumb to peer pressure, especially when their own mother has been refaced. I try to think about how they must feel about themselves, I guess they must like their new selves? why else would they go through with it? Sad but true. The really scary part is I know of one woman who has gotten her nose done 3 times already and still not happy with it. Yikes!

      • shalom69

        Vietnamese look nothing like Koreans and the vast majority of Vietnamese already have what you term “westernized” eyes with epicanthic folds.

        Chances are the reason why “almost every other woman” has given you such a shock is because more than half of Viets are born with those eyes. I have bad news for you, you better stay in the house and draw the shades because those crazy Viets with their crazy eyes are going to keep shocking you if you venture out.

        Better yet, we better just have you come on back home. You’re not ready to play with others.

      • Alysha Johnson

        vietnamese have big eyes and epicanthic folds that are different than east asian (chinese, korean, japanese) but they do not have western eyes. They have South East Asian eyes, if anybody know what that is. I feel like you just take things too personal. How do you know mcexpact is a foreigner, he or she might as well be asian or even a Vietnamese person at that.

      • Chris Christiansen

        Partly because they have the word “expat” in their screen name.

      • Alysha Johnson

        I lived in Vietnam for a while, and the peer pressure is not as bad as the mother’s pressure. I totally understand what it feel like for mothers over there to put their own kids appearance down and tell them to change themselves. I have been called fat and ugly by my mother multiple times. The sad part is the ‘aunties’ over there feel totally entitled to tell me that i’m fat and i need to change. If i talk back i would be considered ‘rude’. It is only after I live here in the States and learn how to love myself that I realized those comments dont mean a thing. I went back there a couple years back for a month. I was a bit chubbier than the girls there but i didnt mind wearing short shorts or dressing myself up. People whisper behind my back saying stuff like ‘they cant believe i have the ‘face’ to wear such clothes when i’m that fat’. I’m only a size 10 here, but over there i am like a giant. I brushed them off in the beginning, but i could totally feel my confident level drop little by little by the end of the month. At the end, i was just glad to be back in the States. For me who had had the chance to immersed myself in a culture that promote confident for half my life, yet i was able to feel that confident chipping away in just a little over a month say a lot about the society pressure over there, and how influential it is on young girls who live there all their life

    • ceesa

      Perhaps the powers that be felt it was necessary for the women to look more westernized.

      There was a time in Japan when it was popular to get plastic surgery and facial silicon implants for this purpose.


    • Sarah

      Photoshop to the max!!

    • crusader2010

      I like the healthy ones on the right, instead of the clones on the left. natural beauty is far more desirable, unless your looking for a trophy wife.

    • Steve Polychronopolus

      Wow, some of you are so quick to throw the racist term around. Whats racist about any of this. Paranoid (on your part) is more the term. Its a Miss Korea pageant for cryin out loud. Not a Miss Universe. I suppose to limit miss universe to just the human race would be racist too right? Are you racist if you prefer a certain breed of dog? what about fruit? if you like apples over grapes or if you happen to think cucumbers are better looking than zucchini. get a grip.

      • wolf

        Its racist to acknowledge someone looks different than you and imply it has something to do with their region or parents race. People look different than you because the WANT to look different. Not because its in their genes you racist scum.

    • KWB

      Seriously???? the reason why all the Korean girls in the beauty pagent look alike is because they are all Korean, have long dark/black hair (basically the same hair style), are “good looking”, and are thin. Get 10 American/English/French thin, good looking, blonds together with basically the same hair style and then get a bunch of Asians to try and pick them out. It isn’t “racism”. They all look alike because they simply all look alike.

      • Yeona Kim

        They only look alike to you, because you (I’m guessing) are not Asian. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s been proven that if you are not a certain ethnicity, then you will NOT see the differences in the people of that ethnicity. For example, in Korea people think that David Beckham and Brad Pitt look the same. Is it because they actually look the same? No, it’s because Koreans don’t have a lot of exposure to western/caucasian people, therefore cannot tell the difference between them as well. Make sense?

    • Michael Ma

      Strange, because there are plenty of girls in Korea walking around that look better than most girls pre-photoshop. Why choose sub average looking girls to begin with? This article is bogus.

    • Ed O’Shea

      Wow, I would hate to be the beauty pageant judge. It would be like judging which bowling pin looked the best at a bowling alley.

    • Peter Rock

      Just shows how far reaching our social stigmas are. If you’re a girl/woman and your’e not visually pretty, thin, athletic, tan, glammed up and popular- you might as well go and hide because you will be treated terribly, or ostracized, by other girls/women and society in general. What have we done to our children and when will it change to accept them without the sales pitch from A&F, Maybelline, fashion/glamour companies, magazines and all these other companies that profit on the fear of not being considered desirable.

      • Wold

        Whatever. This is what women make important. Its your own fault. Women who are pretty dont have and issue with it, women who arent do. Just like people who have money dont have an issue with it, and people who dont do. Its called human existence

      • shalom69

        Lol do you even know any women?

        The bottom line is that women are catty. Women judge others. If you’re fat they judge you for being fat, possibly lazy or without self-restraint.

        If you’re pretty, they judge you as fake, superficial, probably mean or stuck up.

        When you’re pretty and foreign then the worst in humanity comes out. A picture of you isn’t even of a person but a robot or some stereotypical screed against an entire culture that the QQer doesn’t even know a thing about.

        In this specific case, Koreans get a lot of PS done but in terms of value in society, looks are far less important than other criteria such as educational level and family prestige compared to the US. There’s a lot of strange foreign things that women in that society derive value from aside from looks. I mean no one in the US is going to get set up on a date based on family background or hometown. Whereas in Korea people aren’t even going to marry someone if their background is shady in the eyes of that society.

        Asian societies have a lot going on, much more than most Americans can comprehend while we drive between walmart and mcdonalds. We project and judge based on our own criteria but really it’s just clueless crying on the internet

      • haorld33

        Don’t forget the darker side of what Korea values in their society.

        If a child’s parents are perhaps killed in an auto accident leaving them an orphan, that child’s dating life is as doomed as a poor person. Their culture, like all cultures, have both positives and negatives.

      • just_saying

        just wanna point out, men can be just as catty as women are portrayed as being…

    • Wolf

      One maybe two attractive here.

    • tim

      Except for # 1 and # 14>>>>>>>>>they have ALL had nose jobs.
      That is soooooo obvious.

      • Bob Jhd

        It is not obvious. Not all Koreans have flat noses. Have you been to Korea? You have made a ridiculous comment.

      •!/coloure oppa kawaii sarang aegyo keke

        yeah and ALL asians are bad drivers, right?

    • Thomas

      I’d take the real girl #5 over the photoshopped #5.

    • excaliburr

      Years ago when I watched part of the Miss Universe contest I noticed that even the Asian contestants had Caucasian eyelids.

    • Michael Christopher Frazier IV

      Well… the photos on the right have florescent lighting, almost no makeup, no hair work done and are dressed in frumpy clothes… you should see me after the gym.

    • Joe

      In my visits to Korea, I found that there is a strong inverse relationship between beauty and friendliness of Korean women. The incredibly beautiful ones are very snobbish. The homely ones are very friendly.

    • slipped21

      #19 looks mad hot with out all that crappy PSD work and makeup anyhow

    • Lupita Gonzales

      Holy beejesus!

    • Eric Wanderer

      number 19…
      and stop wearing so much crap on your faces

    • scook999

      This is a trick right? All the women on the left side are close to identical! If it isn’t Photoshop, is the process to lighten the skin painful?

      sidenote: To understand more, scientific studies with children prove that that more trust and like goes to those with lighter skin color, and it didn’t matter the nationality of the child is.

      So psychologically I have some understanding as why people (women, moreso) do this, but too bad we aren’t emotionally stronger than this.

    • spockmonster

      5, 2, and 4 were more beautiful before surgery. The others were mostly too, but these 3 in particular had a unique look that was lost to the knife. All the girls were converted to look identical, wierd.

    • Dante

      Their pre-surgery faces (or pre-photoshop, whichever you prefer) actually look better than the other half, which appears too artificial.

    • Jig101

      You’re forgetting the most important beauty standard in many Asian cultures is to fit in and be the same. There is no room for individuality… There is only beauty in the Honor of the collective.

    • Jim McMaster

      In their defense.. They all look awesome, & the before/after pictures do the work justice. but I can see this is a “Yooz bootiful tha way u are” blog, so I’ll move on.

    • boidal

      ummmmm….. they’re hot!