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11 December 2012


Liberal Studies
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Text : Nieve Wong

Photos : Sing Tao Daily

Personal Development & Interpersonal Relationships
Energy, Technology & the Environment

Hong Kong Today

Modern China
Public Health

The new

This article enables students to:

1. assess qualities, phenomena, changes, trends and impacts in relation to various aspects of
society and culture;
2. identify the interdependence among societies, countries and the world, and their mutual
influences upon on another.

Gender trends vs social norms

THE idea of making a good impression with
makeup is rooted distinctly in Korean and
Japanese culture. It is a cultural topic that goes
beyond the discussion of personal growth
or moral evolution. As a matter of fact, the
Japanese have deeply influenced the Koreans on
aestheticism to such an extent that the Koreans
have become earnest practitioners. Male
characters in Japanese comic books are usually
depicted in ways that maximise beauty, which
is why their looks are often inspired by
features normally seen in beautiful girls. In
the late 90s when the Korean government
opened up more to Japanese cultural
products, there were shifting values
towards the way Korean society
viewed men.

girly men
Skincare and makeup plays an increasingly
important role in mens lives, not least in
South Korea where cultural influences
from Japan on male beauty are prominent

Key ideas

mens makeup centres in Seoul where a daily

average of 300 men give their patronage. The
recognition of mens makeup from leading
enterprises and the notion of beautiful faces
are the key to success have drawn societys
attention to mens makeup as a notable issue.

TThe traits in male chauvinism have

been shaded by effeminate male
beauty in contemporary South Korea,
with mens skincare and makeup trends
growing mainly in Asia

In a society like South Korea where men

have traditionally been believed to be superior
to women, the shift to effeminate male beauty
from masculinity in men is indeed an interesting
cultural development. The cultural transfer
is strong to such an extent that it seems to be
influencing other parts of the world too.

Did you know?

IIn 2002, Ahn Jung-hwan, a hero of
South Korea's World Cup soccer team,
took things a step further when he
led the charge for so-called flower men,
or good-looking, fashionable guys who
regularly applied cosmetics. Women loved
him and men wanted to be him.

Alongside influences from

Japan, vast changes in mens
beauty have occurred over the
years. Large firms like Korean
Air and Google Korea have started
beauty training sessions for men.
Cosmetics companies have opened

MAGINE a boys morning routine: cleansing, toning, and moisturising. Now, does
adding foundation and eyeliner to the routine sound acceptable to you? On a small
level this can be seen as a means of building confidence. In a broader, more global sense,
whether various cultures can accept this effeminate trend depends on their definition
of the sexes.
Have you noticed that an increasing number of cosmetic brands, both high-end
and budget, have made men their target audience with ad campaigns mostly featuring
beautiful male models? Such male-targeted products have become so popular that they
have started emerging in personal care shops and supermarkets in abundance.

Critical questions
1. H ow wo u l d yo u d e s c r i b e t h e
appearances of Korean artists?
2. Do you think this mens makeup trend is
likely to sweep through the world?

Mens beauty culture

Personal Growth and Interpersonal Relationships


confidence achieved with appearance?

social norms?

Mens Beauty


market potential
eg China



job hunting

Effeminacy awakens in Asian men

COSMETIC treatment (excluding plastic
surgery) consists of two levels. One is basic
skincare and the other is applying makeup. The
global growth of mens beauty products indicates
a change in mens habits and attitudes over
recent years. Many are increasingly aware of
their appearances. Males from mainland China
are becoming vastly more beauty conscious,
while Korean males have been known for many
years as the top chasers of beauty. Preparing the
face before being seen by people is a must for
many Koreans.
According to global market research firm
Euromonitor International, the mens skincare


products market reached US$269.6 billion

(HK$2,089.41bn) in 2010, higher than North
Americas US$227.4 billion. The annual growth
rate of the mainland market is expected to
expand by 29 percent in 2014, compared to the
expected growth of 5.7 percent in North America
and 7.9 percent in Europe.
CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets (
) has found the sales volume of
mens skincare products amount
to only one percent of the entire
beauty and healthcare markets
in the mainland, suggesting
room for sales to grow.

prominent (adj)

effeminate (adj)



male artists

e.g. Korea

Making a good first impression

DESPITE having significant spending power,
China must settle for second-best when it comes
to spending money on mens skincare products.
Totalling a male population of only 19 million,
South Korea has no competition with a
record US$380 million spending on
mens skincare products in 2010,
making up some 18 percent of
global sales. Last year, Korean males
contributed further to the skincare
spend (v)

Modern China
impact of
soft culture

traditional vs open-minded
economic growth having
great influence?

What they say

CAN you imagine what it must be like in the
bathroom for couples putting on their face in
the morning? business consultant Rebecca

Modern China

Hansbrough is sceptical of the idea of men making-up

Having a clean neat face makes you look sophisticated
and creates an image that you can handle yourself well.

college student Cho Won-hyuk, 24, says wearing makeup makes him feel more confident

Male grooming is very common amongst

Korean males.That is because in modern
Korean society people believe that a good first
impression will benefit them greatly. They
express confidence with a pleasant appearance,
hence leading to better job opportunities,
relationship opportunities and even social status.

benefit (n)

males image?

diversified culture
displaying national power?

market by hitting its peak of US$500 million,

accounting for 21 percent of global sales.

grooming (n) ;

traditional notions


Of course, there's probably a more obvious answer to why Korean men are buying
makeup,women prefer them that way. the New York Observers Media reporter Kat Stoeffel
comments on the trend
My skin wasnt bad, but the media constantly sends the message that the skin is one
of the most important things, so I wanted to take care of it. consumer Kim Jong-hoon who
uses mens makeup.

aestheticism (adj)

earnest practitioner (n phr)

patronage (n)