Korea is one of the places in the world where individuals can get plastic surgery with ease, earning the title “plastic surgery capital of the world.” With its professionally skilled doctors and translators available, many visitors to the country even plan their trip around getting a cosmetic procedure.
Naturally, this shapes how Koreans view beauty and puts pressure on how everyone should look to attain it—especially idols. Since it’s a topic that’s rarely discussed, Ashley Choi, BTOB‘s Peniel, and KARD‘s BM brought attention to it in the latest episode of their podcast Get Real.
They reached the topic when Ashley opened up about not feeling confident in her appearance because of how often Koreans would point out what they didn’t like about it. The negativity began to weigh on her.
I didn’t know there were so many ‘flaws’ about myself, or things that people thought weren’t pretty or attractive, until I came to Korea. Because that’s when people started pointing it out.
Needing her to elaborate, Peniel asked for a concrete example, “Like what?” Ashley recalled her trainee period before she’d debuted as a member of Ladies’ Code.
Her company would point out all of the features they wanted her to get plastic surgery to change, “When you’re a trainee, they tell you, ‘Oh, you need to get this done. You need to get this done. Like, you need to fix this.’” BM knew precisely what she meant, murmuring his understanding.
They were specific in listing the cosmetic procedures they wanted Ashley to undergo, “They would tell me they want me to shave my jaws, like shave my face. Shave my bones off.”
Peniel could relate, admitting that he’d faced the same pressure from his own company, “Oh, I got that too.” Surprised, Ashley wanted to know the reason why.
Since Koreans commonly have a v-shaped jaw and he had a square one, Peniel’s company had wanted him to shave it down to align with their beauty standards. “‘Cause I got kind of like… Korean people kind of [have] that v-line, you know? But, I got a square jaw. I got the butt chin and everything. ”
Similar to Ashley’s experience, the company listed off the cosmetic procedures they wanted him to undergo. How he could “fix” what they considered imperfections, “Yeah, I got a square jaw, so then I remember they wanted me to cut it a little bit and get fillers and stuff too.”
In a way, they shamed him by comparing his jaw to a Toy Story character with an exaggeratedly huge jaw, “But they were like, ‘On TV, you’re going to look like Buzz Lightyear.’”
These weren’t the only pressures they received to get plastic surgery from their companies.
Ashley also recalled how they wanted her to fix her gummy smile, “When I smile, my gums show a lot. So, they were like, ‘Oh, you gotta get plastic surgery, to not let your lips roll up too much. Because when you smile and your gums show, that’s unattractive.’”
Ashely emphasized how draining it was to continually hear everything they wanted her to “fix” about her appearance. It was “endless” because they were never satisfied and would have always come up with new “flaws.”
Because, you know, you would fix one thing and they’d be like, ‘Oh, like your face looks a little disproportionate. You’ve got to fix the other side. And, it’s just never-ending.’
When you consider that trainees are often very young and impressionable, it sends a negative message that they aren’t beautiful the way they are. Ashley is absolutely stunning just the way she is and has become even more so over the years. Peniel has always been naturally handsome as well.
Always hearing the “flaws” and facing the pressure to undergo dangerous procedures just to fit beauty standards would crush anyone’s self-confidence and self-worth, though. Listen to them open up with the massive pressures they faced regarding it here.