Japanese vs. Korean Beauty Standards

Japanese vs. Korean Beauty Standards

As a follow up to my popular post where I talk about Japanese beauty standards, I thought to follow it up enlisting some of the key differences and also all the similarities between Japanese and (South) Korean beauty standards.

Korean beauty standards are very similar to Japanese beauty standards. Yet, they also differ in some areas. Korean beauty standards just like Japanese beauty standards have deep roots with the Ancient Chinese court’s beauty standards. Luckily, the creepy way of making the feet smaller was a tradition that was never exported outside of China’s boundaries.

Briefly about the racial differences between Japanese and Koreans: Koreans, due to their history have quite a bit of Mongolian racial heritage. And this results in a high number of men and women having larger, circular heads, and a smaller and thinner than usual set of eyes. This is why plastic surgery has become so prevalent in South Korea, next to embracing the Japanese standards. Korean culture, also thanks to history and long occupation periods from Japan, shares tons of customs, and traditions with Japan. As a race, Japanese is a race on its own right. Japan is also very proud to be racially the purest nation on Earth (98% Japanese). Japan strictly controls and thoughtfully yet radically limits the number of foreigners who want to live in Japan.

Let’s see the key differences and similarities between Japanese and Korean beauty standards

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These Korean beauty standards are pretty much the same as Japanese beauty standards. But the price some girls pay to achieve all this is extremely high, both financially and physically


Small face: there is this weird belief that originally derives from the stylized Manga depiction of Hafu or Western characters, that Westerners have typically a smaller face. This generally means that the eyes, nose, mouth are closer to each other. The closer they are, the better the features are believed both in Japan and in Korea. in Korea, the desperation for having a smaller is somewhat bigger than in Japan. Tons of plastic surgeries (invasive and non-invasive injection methods) are about to bring features closer to each other.

V-Shaped face: another feature that’s called a typical western appearance and another one that derives from Anime and Manga. The V line is one of the most requested plastic surgery in South Korean beauty clinics. V line can be thanked for a smaller chin. Many Asians, particularly Koreans who have quite a bit of Mongolian and Chinese heritage have a typically more circular, wider face.

White Skin: a very old beauty tradition coming straight from China. The whiter the skin, the nobler is the look. This skin lightening craze is typical all across Asia. There are tons of skin lightening products and a shared obsession for using all sorts of shades against the sunlight for both nations. The concept of porcelain skin is simple. Those whose skin is darker work out under the sun like the peasants. Noble girls should, therefore, have to have a skin that’s as white as possible. Just look at the Geishas who perfectly mirror the overall Japanese beauty standards back in the day.

this Anime figure perfectly sums up the Japanese beauty ideal

Large eyes: another sign of the Hafu/Manga obsession includes eyes that are larger than life. Asian style eyes are typically smaller than Westerners’ eyes. Koreans who come with a Mongolian racial heritage often have an even smaller set of eyes. This is why, next to the traditional eye surgery, a large number of Korean women try to undergo other, often risky eye-enlarging surgeries.

The classic Doll look has always been extremely popular a beauty standard in Japan

Cuteness in appearance: coming straight from Japan, Korean beauty also places much emphasis on cuteness overall. But Koreans do not push the concept as far as Japanese do. There is only one Harajuku Lolita style and that’s straight from Japan.

Clear, smooth, spotless skin: this is an important beauty standard for both nations. The skin should be clean and impeccable looking. They are especially desperate to remove all greasiness and spots as soon as possible.


  1. Sexiness: Korean women put more emphasis on looking sexy while the Japanese concentrate on the purer concept of cuteness in an almost childish way.
  2. Heavier use of makeup: Korean women use much more visible, colorful makeup than the Japanese do. While Japanese women use only a very small quantity of makeup which is based on skin tones, Korean women are not afraid to use a heavy red or magenta lipstick. This is one characteristic that helps you visibly differentiate between Japanese and Korean women.
  3. More emphasis on ideal body features: unlike Japanese, Korean girls put much more emphasis on looking sexy and curvy. While thinness is extremely important, most Korean girls strive for larger breasts and a wider hip line. This comes from Western beauty standards. Korean beauty standards for body type include Large breasts, wider hips, skinny legs, and skinny arms.
  4. Overall fitter looks while being skinny at the same time: This is more of a Korean beauty concept, while the Japanese rather focus on looking thin and fragrant in a feminine way. This is the reason why Korean women have a more extensive number of body-related corrective surgeries including liposuction, laser surgery, hip enlarging, fat injecting, breast enlargement procedures of all sorts.
  5. A height of around 170 cms: thanks to high heels this is something that can be corrected without surgery.
  6. Hair color: Japanese put more emphasis on having an altogether lighter hair color according to my experience. They would however not go to extremes. Dark blond natural-looking streaks are pretty popular.
  7. The “get taller” mania: this is moreso a Korean and Chinese phenomenon, I know that lots of Chinese attempt often illegal procedures to make them get taller and I ‘ve heard of fatal failures in this aspect as well. But truthfully, this is one of the most apparent manias when it comes to real, transforming plastic and corrective surgical procedures. There are so many practices, and lots of Asian women are crazy about the concept of getting taller.
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this is the best pic I could find which sums up the Korean beauty ideal

Japanese vs. Korean beauty and fashion habits:

The difference between luxury brand preferences:

While Japanese women vote for the classic elegance and neutral colors of Chanel, Prada, Vuitton or Burberry, Korean would rather go for Gucci, Dior or Versace with all their bolder, often outrageous colors and patterns. Japanese women do not dress sexy. They look for the elegant, low-key look of Western ladies. Korean girls want to look more Western in this regard.

Japanese vs Korean makeup habits

If you want to learn how to differentiate between Korean and Japanese women, just look at their faces. Korean women prefer a much stronger makeup and the use of strong or stronger lipstick, while Japanese women do not wear makeup or even if they do, it’s very light, almost not recognizable. While Japanese girls love to use extra-long eyelashes in Korea girls would also top this up with heavy eyeliner.

Japanese vs. Korean fashion

While Japanese women don’t wear bold and strong colors, Koran women like to wear colorful and bold colored garments. The use of jewelry is also much more prevalent in the case of South Korean women.

Snow white skin

perhaps the most ancient beauty standard of all time, snow-white skin is the remnant of the Chinese Imperial culture

As I have written in several other posts of mine, there is a whole targeted range of products that aim for making lighter skin. These products, while produced by most of the large brands are not released in the Western markets. They are exclusively meant for the Far Eastern market.


The use of large or extra-large colored contact lenses

Manga culture is largely shaping beauty ideals all across Asia

Blue, green or overall lighter colored eyes: this is something that plastic surgery cannot yet achieve. These large, blue, green, grey – colored contact lenses are particularly popular in Japan as they provide a distinctive doll-like look that’s part of the Lolita style, particularly the type which has the characteristic to make the eyes look overall larger.

The growing and demanding pressure of being beautiful in Koran society

Due to a strong Mongolian bloodline in the Korean nation, many Korean women are born with harsh features, which include either a pretty wide or a longer-than-usual face, paired with a very defined chin and smaller-than-usual eyes. This photo is a before-after done in South Korea.  It had to take at least 4-5 plastic surgery procedures to achieve all this change.

In Korea, the importance of beauty and overall perfection is much more prevalent than in Japan, where it is preferred for women to stay low-key in terms of appearance and work status. In Korea however, the demand for perfection puts tons of unnecessary pressure on women. There ate tons of South Korean workplaces whose hiring attributes involve beauty. If someone is not beautiful they would not succeed in life.

I would like to finally suggest you all watch this great clip which perfectly summarizes the desperation to keep up with Western trends and with the impossible beauty standards in South Korea:

Vice Fashion: