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These Iconic Women (of K-Pop) Push the Boundaries of Korean Social Norms

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSD chapter.

There are harsh and unhealthy social norms within South Korean society. Especially when it comes to K-pop idols there are even more stereotypes that can hurt the mentality of the “normal” person. Now that we live in a progressing society, the fandom world of K-pop has seen a few idols that are pushing those boundaries.

The unhealthy (and basically unrealistic) body standards within K-pop is one of the biggest problems within the industry. The rude and insulting comments that are made to those that do not have the “right” body type is heartbreaking. Hwasa, a member of the k-pop girl group MAMAMOO, has been defying those stereotypes since her debut in 2014. She even said, “If I don’t fit into this generation’s standard of beauty, then I will have to become a different standard.” Hwasa has become one of the iconic faces of not allowing body standards to ruin you from achieving your dreams. Another iconic celebrity defying these standards is hip hop soloist, Jessi. She has been very open about her plastic surgery, including lip fillers and breast implants. However, she has come out and said that she got her lip fillers dissolved and now loves her body for what it looks like. She has said that, she is not perfect and she could never be perfect. Jessi has become an advocate for people to love their bodies, whether they choose to have plastic surgery or not. 

South Korea is one of the more conserrvative societies when it comes to male and female gender roles. However, one female idol in particular has been pushing those boundaries since her debut in 2009; Amber Liu, former f(x) member. Amber has always been styled with boyish tones and has always had a strong personality. Her androgynous style has always made her stand out within the industry. During an interview with KpopStarz, Amber revealed that she was always pestered as a child because of the way she looked. She confessed, “They judged, avoided, bothered and cursed at me for no reason. I hid this problem from my family. I was embarrassed at first.” The experiences she went through taught her to stop judging people based on their appearance. While embracing her true self, she has recognized that everyone has their own charm and uniqueness.

Again, being a more conservative society South Korea is just now starting to embrace the “anyone can love anyone” kind of mentality. Soloist, Sunmi has shown time and time again her support for the LGBT community. During a concert in Amsterdam, she shouted “Happy Pride!” and “I support LGBT!”. The love she shows to her fans and letting them know that they do not have to be one way to be loved is amazing. Blackpink member Rosé has also shown her support for the LGBTQ community. From proudly waving the LGBT flag at concerts to even asking a fan “Who’s your girlfriend?”, when the fan handed her a stuffed animal that was given to her on a first date. 

South Korea still has its traditional conservative roots and morals underneath the surface. However, there are changes being made here and there that can only improve the public’s mental and physical health. These women and so many others within a booming industry are speaking up and showing people that there are no direct lines that need to be followed. Every body type is beautiful, every personality and the way one presents themselves is beautiful, expressing love in any way one wants to show is beautiful. Women are beautiful, strong, powerful, and ALL OF THE ABOVE! 


**On another note Blackpink’s Rosé is debuting solo on March 11th! Make sure to go check out her song and support this beautiful queen!**


Born and raised in the Bay Area, Shannon Kang is a California native. She is finished community college back in her hometown and is now enrolled at University of California, San Diego to pursue her Bachelor's Degree in Communications. After undergrad she is planning on furthering her education to pursue an MBA in management and operations. When it comes to tasks and her interests she is determined and persistent, she will not stop till she gets what she wants. Her interests include, music (KPOP stan), food (total foodie), Asian culture, fashion, skin care, and literature.
Her Campus at UCSD aims to create a more open platform for women to share their ideas and passions with the rest of the college community. Our writers are students of all different majors who share the same passion for writing and media and are excited to bring more fun articles for the UCSD community and others to indulge in and enjoy.