Cosmetics in Korea

Published: 9.14.2018
Level 5   |   Time: 4:28
Accent: American
Arirang (8.31.2018)

Why more Korean men are buying and using cosmetics


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary / background.
  2. WATCH the video.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers. (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary

  • ☐ ☐ ☐ bulk up [exp] - add muscle
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a Neanderthal [n] - a cave-man
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ all the rage [exp] - very popular
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ allocate [v] - assign
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ be it through [exp] - one way or another
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ zoom in on [phv] - focus on
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ conventional [adj] - normal
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ masculinity [n] - what it means to be a man
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ foundation [n] - base makeup used to make an even skin tone
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ concealer [n] - makeup used to hide spots (blemishes)
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ contour [v] - shape
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a tutorial [n] - a how-to video or manual
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ head out [phv] - go out
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a blemish [n] - a skin mark or spot
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ boost [v] - raise
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a competitive edge [exp] - an advantage over opposite team
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ per capita [exp] - percentage of people
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ runner-up [n] - second place
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ groom [v] - brush, clean, make look
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ diversify [v] - make something more varied
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ toner [n] - makeup used to clean and brighten the face
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ moisturizer [n] - makeup that moistens skin
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a spectrum [n] - a scale, a range
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ perception [n] - thoughts
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ an asset [n] - something beneficial
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a gender role [exp] - what men and women are expected to do
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ reflect [v] - show
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ interpersonal skills [n] - social skills
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ fierce [adj] - strong

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb, [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions

  1. What does the reporter mean when he says "being a little Neanderthal was all the rage for men"?
    Men tried not to look intelligent.
    Men wanted to look ugly.
    Men wanted to look more masculine.
    Men wanted to wear heavy makeup.

  2. What types of makeup techniques are mentioned in Kim Ki-Soo's tutorial?
    Blending eye shadow
    Filling in eyebrows
    Contouring the jawline
    Thickening eyelashes
    Applying concealer
    Applying foundation

  3. How many of Kim Ki-Soo’s followers are men?

  4. Why do males send messages to Kim Ki-Soo?
    To ask him which products he uses
    To ask him how to apply those products
    To ask him which products he sells
    To ask him how to buy cosmetics

  5. Korean men are recently starting to ____.
    wear full makeup
    wear basic makeup
    wear makeup once in a while
    wear makeup every day

  6. Why do they wear makeup?
    To look softer
    To look sharper
    To cover blemishes
    To thicken eyebrows
    To make eyebrows longer
    To feel more confident
    To boost their salary

  7. Which statements are true?
    Korean men buy 4 times more cosmetics than Danish men.
    Korean men buy the most cosmetics in the world per capita.
    Korean men buy the 4th most cosmetics in the world per capita.
    Danish men buy the 2nd most cosmetics in the world per capita.
    The Korean market accounts for 5% of total worldwide sales for men's cosmetics.
    The Korean market accounts for 20% of total worldwide sales for men's cosmetics.

  8. What do Korean cosmetic brands want to do now?
    Sell to other countries
    Sell different types of products
    Sell cosmetics for men and women
    Sell pet grooming products

  9. Why is the male cosmetic industry in Korea growing so rapidly?
    Men want to look more feminine.
    Men want to look clean-cut.
    Society's perceptions are changing.
    Companies are pressuring men to wear makeup.

  10. How are traditional gender roles changing in Korea?
    Many young people want individualism and freedom.
    Society is more accepting of western culture.
    Society is more accepting of men wearing makeup.
    The economy is forcing gender roles to change.

triangle Discussion

  1. What are the drawbacks of wearing makeup (for men)?
  2. What are the advantages of wearing makeup (for men)?
  3. Do you (or any of your male friends) wear makeup or use skin care products? What kinds?
  4. How do you feel about men using foundation? Eyeliner? Eye shadow? Lipstick? Why?
  5. Can you explain how moisturizer, toner, foundation and concealer are different?

triangle Script

There was a time when bulking up and being a little neanderthal was all the rage for men. These days a growing number of guys in Korea, allocate a greater amount of time and energy staying stylish... be it through fashion or cosmetics.Kim Hyesung zooms in on the trend that goes against conventional ideas of masculinity.

Filling in eyebrows, applying foundation and concealers, then contouring the nose and jawline for a sharper look. It’s male beauty creator Kim Ki-soo’s makeup tutorial, with close to 120-thousand subscribers.  Kim says when he first launched the video last November, almost 100 percent of his followers were women. But now, more than 30 percent are men.

“Many male followers message me, asking which products I use and how to apply them. For instance, questions like how can I not make the foundation look too thick, how to shape eyebrows. All these reactions, unimaginable just several years back, show how there are quite a lot of Korean men who are interested in putting on makeup.”

While not going as far as wearing full makeup,... putting on basic makeup like bb cream and concealer is becoming more common for men in Korea. 27-year-old Lim Tae-hyun is one of them. He says applying makeup is a must before heading out. 

“I put on makeup to look sharper, cover my blemishes and thicken my eyebrows. It boosts my confidence. And in fact, people don’t even realize that I’m wearing makeup because it looks natural, so I like it.”

According to a survey by research firm Interfashion Planning,... out of the Korean men who bought cosmetics at drug stores last year,... 39% wear make up for confidence, and 32 percent do it to have a competitive edge, meaning more than 70 percent wear makeup for a better appearance. 

In fact, Korean men are the world’s top per-capita consumers of cosmetic products. With nearly four times the purchases of runner-up Denmark, Koreans make up a fifth of worldwide sales.

As demand for male grooming products continues to grow in Korea, cosmetic brands are further diversifying their product line-up, introducing men-only cosmetics, ranging from toners and moisturizer to eye cream.  But the long list of cosmetics on offer could be somewhat foreign for men… creating a demand for so called “male beauty directors”.

“Men are interested in looking good. It’s not a desire limited to women. But men could still feel uncomfortable or somewhat shy asking women how to use items XYZ. So male-to-male, we provide them with consulting, look at their skin type, recommend items to them and tell them the step-by-step process.”

“I think the culture is changing. Male products used to be mainly skin care products, but now the spectrum of items is widening to BB cream, facial masks, and lip gloss.”

With both demand and supply in the male grooming industry growing, the market is set for double-digit growth every year, and could be worth 1.5 billion US dollars by 2020. This rapid growth comes not only because more korean men want to look clean-cut, but also because of society’s changing perceptions. 

“I think it’s fine for men to invest money and time to take care of the way they look, as long as it looks natural.”

“Times have changed – appearance is an asset.  I put on skin care and eye cream myself.  Wearing makeup to look more attractive – I think that’s fine.  It’s an individual’s choice.”

The traditional clear gender roles are changing in Korea and more young people these days want individualism and freedom.  So society is more accepting of men putting on makeup.  At the same time it reflects how competitive the job market is – with men pressured to look fit and clean cut on top of having a good education and interpersonal skills to get a good job these days.”

Self satisfaction, the cosmetic industry’s cosmetic strategies, fierce competition; for various reasons a growing number of Korean men are wearing makeup and this trend is likely to continue as social perceptions of male grooming evolve. 

With both demand and supply in the male grooming industry growing, the market is set for double-digit growth every year, and could be worth 1.5 billion US dollars by 2020. This rapid growth comes not only because more korean men want to look clean-cut, but also because of society’s changing perceptions.