The Atlantic has featured a couple of good articles about this topic recently, so I put together a roundup of related pieces:
The K-Pop Plastic Surgery Obsession from The Atlantic (24 May 2013). This thorough article includes some quotes from anthropologist Eugenia Kaw and a reference to her work Medicalization of Racial Features: Asian American Woman and Cosmetic Surgery. From the article: “Dr. Kang’s philosophy is about helping nature along. ‘I always try to copy the natural look, give face the ideal shape it should have been born with,’ he said.”
SBS Dateline (Australia) had a segment on the K-pop cosmetic surgery phenomenon a couple of months ago:
This Reddit thread about the 2013 Miss Korea contestants is interesting as some comments come from people living in Korea, trying to give a perspective from inside the culture. They also reference this story from China in which a man sued his beautiful wife for marrying him under false pretenses, after she gave birth to a less-than-lovely child and then revealed she had had about $100K worth of surgery before meeting him (sounds like an urban legend to me).
Looking beyond Korea, in 2011 the New York Times published the article Ethnic Differences Emerge in Plastic Surgery. It’s not an academic or researched article; it basically groups together a bunch of generalizations by surgeons about immigrant surgery preferences.
The Atlantic went back to the cosmetic surgery topic for today’s article Bringing Beverly Hills Cosmetic Surgery to the Middle East.
And to return to my home country, I offer you this Gawker post from 2011: A Guide to the Fake Faces of Real Housewives. Perhaps there’s something to be said about trying to look like those seen as successful trendy role models among those of your subculture — whether they be pop stars, actors, or trophy wives — and the dominant story isn’t that people are trying to look Caucasian, at least not anymore.