That Time A Korean Cosmetic Store Photoshopped My Face

Over the weekend, I went to a Soccer game in Seoul World Cup Stadium with a big group of friends. We had all had a very late night/early morning the night before so were a little worse for wear come Sunday afternoon. Lack of makeup and unwashed hair aside, we spent the day cheering on Seoul FC and feeling pretty proud of ourselves for opting to be productive rather than hibernating in out match box-sized apartments.

After the match we headed into the shopping centre to grab a coffee, relax and try to warm up having being outside in the almost freezing cold Korean winter for the last 2-3 hours. As we walked in a well dressed, perfectly manicured Korean lady approached me and my friend and asked if we would like to get our photo taken for free. It all looked professional with proper lighting, cameras and a “set” where we could sit and pose so without delay my friend and I signed up.

The photo shoot was organized my Korean Cosmetic brand “Skin Food” which specializes in all sorts of lotions, moisturizer and cosmetics for your face, body and hair to make you look both younger and “whiter”, two aspects of beauty which every Korean aspires to be. We answered a few questions which had been roughly translated from Korean to English with regards to our skin tone, how old we were, how old our skin looked, what we would like to change about our skin and other questions which I usually avoid/hate to answer. 

After about 5 minutes we sat down and were asked to pose naturally, which we attempted to do. While they loved my dear friend Mandy (a 38-year-old with the skin of a 31-year-old, or so they said with much delight and awe), they kept telling me “smile bigger”, “smile with your eyes” “You’re too awkward” and “Still too awkward”. The 3 hours of sleep I had had the night before, many hours of dancing, cocktails, hours of shopping, match day pints and general tiredness was suddenly catching up with me and I simple did not have the energy to pose like a Korean. We gave our phone numbers and the woman said we would be sent 2 photos; the first one would be of us “au natural” and the second one would be photo-shopped by the “talented” photographers and would make us look younger and whiter, the look we should aspire to be.

Instead of writing any more, I’m simply going to post the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots as I am still slightly frightened and slightly horrified at how they think I should look as opposed to how I look right now. I may look tired, I may look hung over, I may look “too dark”, but I still like the way I look “au natural” way, way more than their idea of “photoshopped perfection”.

The "before" picture

The “before” picture

The "after" shot.

The “after” shot.

Related posts:

Big is Beautiful – Except in South Korea

Cosmetic Surgery in Korea – Starting Young

Korea- What Grinds My Gears

  • Joshapalooza
    November 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Hmmm they forgot the raccoon eye shadow! Thank goodness you can get surgery to remove your cheek bones in Korea or else you’d be hopeless!

    This industry is really just terrible.

  • Lindsey
    November 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    LOL! Geeze, Korea. Way to change your face. The photoshopped one doesn’t even look like you! They gave you a big forehead with a small chin. BLeh. You definitely look much better in the au natural one. In fact, I think you look pretty in it! And not just “pretty for being natural” kinda way.

  • Every Day Adventures in Asia
    November 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I’m with you – “au naturel” is far superior! I keep hearing over and over about how Seoul is the preferred destination for “work” being done of a cutting cosmetic kind. Regret I made an awful gaff speaking completely disparagingly about it… unfortunately in front of a lovely woman who turns out to be a former “Miss Korea” and squirmed rather uncomfortably when I cast aspersions about artificial enhancements.

  • Russell Smith
    November 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    The photoshopped version of you doesn’t remotely look like you! Rather creepy.

  • Betty Londergan
    November 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Good grief – what a bizarre culture!! I really can’t stand the way you look in the “after” shot — it doesn’t even look like the beautiful, interesting personality that your face absolutely reflects, before they start messing with it. Wowsa, and we thought women in America have insecurities about our looks! (And what’s with the obsession with being white?? sheeeshhh!)

  • Robbiieeeeee
    November 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    to be fair you look way younger in the “after” shot. A disney type make up to make their twenty somethings look 12.

  • silkpurseproductions
    November 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    They changed the shape of your face. That is the first thing I undo in all altered photographs. You can change a lot of things but don’t change the shape of your face. Your friend who has a very round face, they somehow managed to make it rounder and fuller which I’m sure she wasn’t too happy with either. When you make “improvements” on a face shot rule number one is to make sure they still look like themselves. They did not.

  • Jouelle
    November 19, 2013 at 4:03 am

    They cut your chin off, and made you look like one of my students. I am with everyone here, photo 1 for the win!

  • Sara
    November 19, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Same here in Thailand – there’s a fascination here with white skin creams and cosmetic surgery – especially nose and bum?! you look way better au naturale

  • whatawaygook
    November 20, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Janet! That’s not even you in the 2nd picture!!!!!!! Someone was a little too happy with their photoshopping “skills”

  • larkycanuck
    November 21, 2013 at 5:01 pm


  • superdollmarcia
    January 31, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    All over Asia there is this obsession with white skin. Koreans though I think are just crazy with all the plastic surgery.

  • Shelley @Travel-Stained
    November 18, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Lol…would you believe they photoshopped my passport photo…thought that kind of ruined the whole point of a passport photo?

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