March 21, 2015

"In recent years, a new Korean word, sung-gui, began to surface online. It means 'plastic-surgery monster.'"

It's "a person who has had so much cosmetic alteration that he or she 'looks unnatural and arouses repulsion,'" writes Patricia Marx in an excellent New Yorker article about the extreme popularity of plastic surgery in South Korea. Supposedly, "a third of all plastic-surgery patients were dissatisfied with the results," and there was a reality TV show called "Back to My Face":
I met with Siwon Paek, the producer of the show’s pilot. In the pilot, contestants who had had at least ten surgeries compete to win a final operation that promises to undo all the previous reconstructions. Paek emphasized that the aim is to help plastic-surgery addicts come to terms psychologically with their appearance. Those with lower incomes, she said, tend to be the most compulsive about plastic surgery. “They feel they have no other way to prove themselves to people and lift themselves socially and economically,” she said. Although the “Back to My Face” pilot was popular, Paek said that she will produce no more episodes. “I didn’t have the strength to continue,” she told me. The responsibility of changing people’s lives weighed too heavily on her, she said, and finding contestants was hard. “For one month, I stood outside a dance club,” she told me. “I solicited two hundred people. Most didn’t want to go back to the way they looked before.”

39 comments:

rhhardin said...

I suggest Shottenfreude, German words for emotions you hadn't noticed.

Like, at random, K├╝hlschrankblockade, staring at the refrigerator, hungry but unsure what to eat.

H/T Maggie's Farm for the suggestion.

The downside is that the German words are in old style type, which I can no longer read easily. The index however is in ordinary typeface, and you can look it up there.

jr565 said...

Aren't most transgendered people who undergo therapy also plastic surgery monsters?

jr565 said...

I won't go so far as to say they look repulsive, (transgendered who go through with sex reassignment surgeries) but most of them certainly don't look natural. And I'm not saying they look repulsive because that would be a hate crime.
Though, I guess you can say someone who has too much plastic surgery is repulsive. So long as they aren't gay and it's not in furtherance of a sex change.

EDH said...

One thing I noticed about the Camille Paglia interview is how her face shows many of the signs of age that most women in the public eye go running to the plastic surgeon to "correct".

But I have to say that compared to that surgical look I find Paglia more attractive. There's a warmth and a depth that surgery erases. Authentic is sexy?

Anonymous said...

Most South Korean women are in their glorious natural states, just like adult women are supposed to be.

Peter

Roger Sweeny said...

Perhaps too much plastic surgery puts you in the "uncanny valley." From wikipedia:

The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of aesthetics which holds that when features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some observers. The "valley" refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of beings as subjects move toward a healthy, natural likeness described in a function of a subject's aesthetic acceptability. Examples can be found in the fields of robotics[2] and 3D computer animation,[3][4] among others.

Virgil Hilts said...

Thanks Ann, this is a fascinating article. After looking at a lot of before and after photos of the blepharoplasty procedure, and being a "superficial man." I can understand its popularity.

https://writingaboutanythingiwantto.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/doubleyelidsurgery.jpg

Laslo Spatula said...

If Margaret Cho had surgery to look like Scarlett Johannson she still wouldn't be funny. But she would look like Scarlett Johannson, so I might want to have sex with her. Depends on how successful the surgery was.

But then she would inevitably say something that sets my teeth on edge and I wouldn't want to have sex with her anymore. Or at least for the moment. Again: depends on how successful the surgery was.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

I wonder how many American women would elect to have 'Scarlett Johannson Vagina Surgery' so that their vagina looks more like that of Scarlett Johansson's. Even though they don't actually know what Scarlett Johannson's vagina looks like, specifically. Still, they would have Name Recognition.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

There would no doubt be the misfortunate women who fall prey to counterfeit vagina surgeries and get the 'Scarlett Johannsen Vagina.'

It is 'Johansson' with an 'O', ladies: you need to pay attention to these things when it comes to your vagina.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Enterprising doctors will perform the 'Scarlett Johannson Vagina Surgery' in two options: 'Current Scarlett' or 'Classic 18-year-old Scarlett.'

The latter would probably rely on artistic interpretation, I would imagine. I could provide suggestions.


I am Laslo.

Quaestor said...

Newly minted physicians have not been taking the Hippocratic Oath for a couple of decades. Ask why and you'll get a lot of answers except the real one, which is about that pesky "do no harm" clause that. Pledging one's honor to do no harm would interfere with the finances of surgeons who aid and abet the morbid delusions of sick people, suffering people who should be go under the care of psychiatrists and neurologists , and not go under the knife.

Laslo Spatula said...

If I had to choose between two female job applicants -- of which one had 'Scarlett Johannson Vagina Surgery' and the other did not -- of course I would hire the woman who had the surgery.

This is not unethical when you are a pimp.

Bizness.

I am Laslo.

Gahrie said...

Has anybody tried sending Miss Scarlett a link to one of these threads? I would be very interested in her reaction.

William said...

Tattoos and plastic surgery. Women never stop after just one.

YoungHegelian said...

Even in East Asia, the Koreans & the Japanese are considered, well, a little strange. They are both very "insular" cultures, albeit for different reasons --- Koreans, because they've been under someone else's thumb for thousands of years & the colonizers never gave a damn about what those miserable peasant rotten-cabbage eaters thought, anyway & Japan because it is an island/

When you read an article like this, it just shows that a true multiculturalism may not only not be desirable, but it probably isn't even possible.

ken in tx said...

Peter must have a Yobo, or had one in the past.

BTW, Korean men think Japanese women look like Korean women, but they think Japanese men are very ugly. Most Koreans hate Japanese. They have living relatives who suffered under Japanese rule.

Saint Croix said...

I'm doing this on-going project where I rank all the cinema in the history of the world. Here's my review of TIme, the South Korean plastic surgery movie.

#3855 Time (2006)

Okay, this crazy woman is mad at her boyfriend for looking at another woman. And in the middle of the argument he looks at two more women. So she flips out, and starts insulting all the women in the coffee house. "Whore! Whore!" Then they make up. And he's impotent in bed. And she says, "pretend I'm another woman." So that works, but now she's angry because he pretended she was another woman. So she runs away and has plastic surgery. And he's broken-hearted, cause she disappeared without a word.

Six months later she comes back into his life with her new face. And she's played by a new actress. So he doesn't recognize her. I didn't recognize her, either. So everything's great except now she's suspicious that he's secretly missing his ex-girlfriend, who is her under the plastic surgery. And she's asking crazy ass questions like, "If your ex-girlfriend came back, would you pick her or me?" And then she starts acting exactly like the ex-girlfriend, which makes sense because she is the ex-girlfriend. She's screaming in a coffee house. That's another coffee house we can't go back to. I'd be like, "Oh my God, deja vu." And she's leaving notes as the ex-girlfriend. "Hi, it's me. I'm back. Let's meet." So he breaks up with his new girlfriend to get back together with his old girlfriend, which can't happen, cause she's her. So she starts walking around with a picture of her old face taped to her new face. And he finally figures it out. You're my crazy old girlfriend!

So he runs off and has plastic surgery himself. And she's like, "oh no!" And the plastic surgeon's like, "you're going to have to wait six months to find out what he looks like." And she's like, "damn it." So she's running around, looking at men in the face, trying to find her boyfriend, cause he's got a new face. I could have sworn man number two was her boyfriend. I was like, "That's your boyfriend, dummy." But he wasn't. Whenever one of them tries to hook up with anybody else, the scarred plastic surgery one throws a rock through a window. That's how I knew it wasn't him, cause a rock went through a window. Follow the rock! If you're chasing Nixon, follow the money. If you're chasing South Korean plastic surgery addicts, follow the rock.

So after six months she finds him, maybe, kinda hard to tell because he's a different actor, and now he's crazier than she is. "Who am I? Who am I?" And she goes back to the plastic surgeon again, which is like visit number six and face number three. The whole movie I'm yelling, "It's your mind! Fix your mind!" But she didn't listen.

That damn plastic surgeon was like the guy from The Sneetches. He was making all kinds of money, just off these two crazy Koreans. "You want to put a star on or take a star off? Cause I can do both."

Achilles said...

There seems to be this need in society with a particular set of people who write and tend to read magazines like the New Yorker to make sure there are haves and have nots. Seems like there are a bunch of people all over the place that want to shame ugly people into remaining ugly. Pretty soon, thanks to plastic surgery, everyone will be as hot as they want to be.

The people who need psychologists are the people who think those who didn't win the genetic lottery should remain less attractive.

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...

One of the (few) problems with the concept of 'Scarlett Johannson Vagina Surgery' is the privacy aspect: when women get breast augmentation surgery they let other people know, by tighter sweaters and more exposed cleavage -- it is a matter of newfound pride.

However, with 'Scarlett Johannson Vagina Surgery' -- unless one were to walk around with no panties and a skirt pushed up to the hips (not necessarily a bad look, mind you, depending on circumstances, such as bent over a mahogany chair, say) -- no one would know unless they were told. And when that kind of money is spent on such a prestige item as the 'Scarlett Johannson Vagina Surgery' you want people to KNOW.

So I'm thinking maybe a 'Scarlett Johannson Vagina Surgery' bracelet that comes with the deal. Discreet, but a sign to those who follow these things. Kinda like a hood emblem on a Mercedes.

The bracelet must not fit too loose, though: bad messaging.

And, yes, there will be knock-offs of the bracelet, akin to the counterfeit topic discussed previously. Again: It is 'Johansson' with an 'O', guys.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

While the 'Scarlett Johannson Vagina Surgery' works because of the connection to a prestige actress, I am not so sure it would work with that of a porn actress. The 'Jenna Jameson Vagina Surgery': like replacing the perfectly good tires on a car with bald retreads this close to a blow-out.

Best to stick with the 'Jenna Jameson Nipple Ring'. Tramp.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

The hardest part for the doctors in performing 'Jenna Jameson Vagina Surgery': attaching the additional roast beef.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

The 'Jenna Jameson Vagina Surgery': in case you ever need to store a quart can of oil with no one noticing.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

The 'Jenna Jameson Vagina Surgery': in case you desperately wanted to get into show business.

In Tijuana.

Fucking donkeys.

Two at a time.


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

The 'Jenna Jameson Vagina Surgery': get a magic marker and you're ready for your after-hours 'Se├▒or Wences' party trick.

"S-All Right?" "S-All Right."

Maybe a bit more slurry than expected.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...

The 'Jenna Jameson Vagina Surgery': the necrosis is intentional. Sadly.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...

The 'Jenna Jameson Vagina Surgery': like the "Paris Hilton Vagina Surgery'.

Exactly like the "Paris Hilton Vagina Surgery'.

Exactly.

No difference.

None.



I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

"The 'Jenna Jameson Vagina Surgery': like the "Paris Hilton Vagina Surgery'.

Exactly like the "Paris Hilton Vagina Surgery'.

Exactly.

No difference.

None."


But it costs a bit more. Go figure.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Now, the 'Brad Pitt Penis Surgery': most men would probably ask only one question: does it make me any bigger?

And still would no doubt say 'No', regardless. Too many homoerotic issues to untangle, probably.

Clint Eastwood: maybe.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

The 'Brad Pitt Penis Surgery': it doesn't come with balls.

He is married to Angelina Jolie, for God Sake: of course it doesn't come with balls.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

The 'Brad Pitt Penis Surgery': in case you ever really, really want to fuck George Clooney.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

"The 'Brad Pitt Penis Surgery': in case you ever want to fuck George Clooney."

Or Matt Damon.

The problem with Matt Damon is HE will spend all the time fucking George Clooney.

And he always invites Ben Affleck to watch.

Awkward.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

The 'Brad Pitt Penis Surgery': didn't he fuck Gwyneth Paltrow back in the day?

Deal-breaker.


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

To paraphrase a quote Althouse previously said about Camille Paglia:

"Laslo rattles off ideas as if to bury us in sheer volume."

Shoe fits, etc etc.


I am Laslo.

Blue@9 said...

Yeah, I was gonna say they've entered the Uncanny Valley.

Kirk Parker said...


ken in tx,

"Most Koreans hate Japanese"


Stop me if I've mentioned this before (OK, don't stop me actually, I know I have!)

One year we hosted two foreign high-school students, one from China (FWIW the only Chinese student we hosted who actually suffered from "Little Prince Syndrome") and one from Korea.

You can imagine that on occasion the dinner-table conversation got a little... strained... especially if the boys got onto the subject of basketball or soccer.

But all I had to do, to restore domestic tranquility, was wait for a lull and introduce the concept "Japan" into the conversion. Bingo! The speed at which they forgot their differences was amazing to behold.








Laslo, bro:

Sure Paglia spins off ideas at a rate comparable to your own, but yours are... well... quite unique to you! You occupy a position (I can use that word in this context, right?) that is totally your own.