Are Daegu girls prettier? Fearless blogger seeks to find the answer
Author's note: A version of this article appeared in February 2010's issue of the Groove Magazine.
A friend recently asked me if I had heard about how Daegu women were the “prettiest”. No, I hadn't, I replied - but it might be an interesting topic worth studying, I thought. My trusty Moon guidebook on South Korea mentions the topic - hardly the only voice to pay attention to, but certainly a point in the theory's favor. Needless to say, it was worth finding out for myself. Off I went using Korea's excellent express bus system - albeit with an expectation that every Dae-gurl was somehow a supermodel just waiting to be discovered.
There's little doubt in my mind that vanity is part of the Korean genome. At any given time or place, the locals are checking their hair or makeup in almost any reflective surface available, whether silver mirror or cell phone. Most were trying to look cute, and few seemed unstylish - it's almost as if the fashion police were lurking and no one wanted to be that girl hauled away. Whether drinking coffee on the subway or a beer at a trendy club, being attractive seems almost as patriotic as singing the Korean national anthem.
Most Dae-gurls didn’t seem as obsessed with following every little trend. That some wore more makeup than Cher made you wonder what was really underneath all those layers of foundation, blush, powder, concealer, and lipstick. You’ll see the same overdone sort of look in Seoul, of course - girls, if you draw your eyes on with eyeliner, guys can tell.
While most Daegu women are pretty, they are also as demure as their counterparts around the country. They are still Korean first and foremost; to this foreign observer, tradition continues to outweigh beauty. That they are considered ‘elusive’ only adds to their allure. You’re unlikely to hear a Dae-gurl (or any other Korean girl for that matter) come out and proclaim how great they look to anyone.
It's also true that Daegu is becoming a medical tourism destination, and that many locals have taken advantage of the plastic surgeons around the area. Want proof? The underground shopping area around Daegu's Jungangno subway station holds several photo studios - most showing photos of locals having had the double eyelid surgery (that's blepharoplasty to you Pre-Med majors).
The pressure to be beautiful is definitely present in Daegu, just like everywhere else in ultra-competitive Korea. Being beautiful, smart - and to a certain extent, even tall - is seen as the way to succeed in finding a job, a significant other, and so on. Are Daegu girls the prettiest in Korea? In the eyes of this writer, they're as pretty as they are in most other places around Korea. Too often, beauty in Korea is limited to the surface – if too much emphasis is placed on one’s appearance, there’s less focus offered to what a person really is. Beauty fades – just look at most ajumma you meet – and is far from the only thing worth looking at.
© Chris Backe - 2010
This post was originally published on my blog, Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.