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When in Korea, Be Ready for an Odd Compliment “Your Face is So Small!”

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“Wow! Your face is the size of a fist!” If someone says this to your face, don’t panic because he/she is not trying to pick a fight with you. Rather, it is a genuine compliment coming from the heart, because one of the most important standards of Korean beauty is having a nicely proportioned body, and they consider “eight-head figure (8등신 – pal deung shin)” to be ideal. Hence having a smaller face is admired (especially among the younger generation) as it makes it easier to achieve that ideal proportion.

Another belief is that having a smaller (slim and thin) face gives a more youthful look and it makes facial features look more well-defined and thus photogenic. So how conscious are the Koreans of their face sizes? Well, their fascination with small faces can be easily seen on TV, where celebrities with unusually small faces are asked to hold up an object adjacent to their faces for quick measurement, with some even whipping out measuring tools.

But one of the most convenient and popular way to measure if your face is in the “small” category is to hold up a CD Rom above your face. If it totally eclipses or covers most of your face, it is super small! And this doesn’t end here. There is even a study (The Standard Figure of Korean People) which measures the face sizes. According to the study, the average face length of men and women were 23.6cm and 22.3cm, respectively.[i]

I know you already took out your ruler – how do you measure against these numbers? Do you fall within the Korean beauty standards? Uh oh… Why the long face?


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