Well, beyond the obvious? Make-up, and lots and lots of it. In fact, according to the global market research firm, Euromonitor International, South Korean men consume nearly twenty one percent of global sales of skin care products. That makes it the largest market for men’s skin care in the world.
Even though there are less than twenty million men in South Korea, South Korean men spent $495.5 million on skin care in 2011, making it, hands down, the male makeup capital of the world! The ideal South Korean man use to be rough and tough, but things began changing in the late 1990s, when South Korea relaxed its ban on Japanese goods. That exposed South Koreans to new, and different ideas on male beauty.
The change from a macho look, to makeup, seems to be due to increased competition for employment, concerns about career advancement and the search for love in a society where ‘appearance is power’. It really gained popularity in 2002, when a hero of South Korea’s World Cup soccer team, Ahn Jung-hwan, became a leading member of the so-called “flower men”, a group of very good-looking, smooth-skinned, sports stars and celebrities who’ve achieved great success selling male cosmetics. Men everywhere began wanting to look like them, and with the encouragement of women, a trend was born.
Now, over a decade later, advertising featuring handsome males plastered in make-up is an unavoidable part of the urban scenery. Many societies throughout history have used make-up to enhance male appearance, from the Pharaohs to Barack Obama. In fact, if you look closely at the male political leaders when they appear at public events in Canada today, you’ll see that the trend is even happening here.