Take a look at this picture:
Now, please tell me: what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see this girl? If you said pop star, you're right. She's Tiffany from Korea girl megagroup So Nyeo Shi Dae, or Girl's Generation. If you said, she's pretty cute, I don't know if you're necessarily right, but I agree with you. Itty-bitty shorts, leather studded bracelet, hair in her face, etc. There are many things one could say about this girl. But, there is one thing that I thought I would never hear about this girl, let alone ANY Korean celebrity:
Two of my female students were talking today about a non-present male classmate, Raphael. They were giggling and saying his name, so I asked them what they were saying. "Do you know 티파니 (spoken, "TeePanee" using Korean English)?" I didn't. They explained who she was, and I knew her group. "Raphael likes her." *more giggles* Then they said something else in Korean, and puffed out their cheeks. "Are you saying she's fat?" "Yes!" they responded, and continued to giggle. Like I said, I have NEVER seen any Korean celebrity who I would consider fat, so I raced home to find a picture of this obese pop star I'd heard about. This was all I could find. Fat? Did that pass through your mind? It certainly did not for me.
Image in general seems very important to Koreans I've met and not met (on TV, heard about through friends), especially body image and otherwise appearance. I've heard multiple people assure me that 100% of Korean celebrities have had plastic surgery, and on many it is very apparent (like, they've gone overboard and their faces crinkle funny or don't move at all). Maybe chill out, Korea. I don't know; just sayin'. *^^*