“I think you’ve gained some weight.”
“You look so tired today.”
“What’s wrong with your skin?”
“Did you do something on your face? You’ve gotten so pretty!”
“Your head is so small!”
Would you get offended if you heard words like this?
Many Koreans talk a lot about appearance in everyday conversations. It’s a steady “hot topic”. We can’t generalize all the conversations Koreans have, but yes it happens quite often.
One of the culture shocks that foreigners get when they first interact with Koreans is that many Koreans openly say things about people’s appearance.
There must be various factors that have influenced Koreans to talk about people’s appearances openly, but we would like to talk about the two factors we think are interesting to point out.
1. It works as a compliment
Saying something good about how you look is one of the ways that many Koreans compliment others. They evaluate features by describing them in detail.
It’s very common to tell a friend you haven’t seen in a while how much he/she has become pretty or how much weight he/she has lost.
2. It means they care about you
No offense, but people might also say something that might not be pleasant to hear, such as how much worse the bags under your eyes have gotten, how much weight you’ve gained, and how tired you look.
It’s a somewhat peculiar way of showing care and concern for others. Some of them will even recommend products or methods for you to look better.
Some criticize this phenomenon
Some Koreans don’t enjoy these “appearance-judging” conversations and think those people are nosy and intrusive.
That may not be the intention of the speaker, but from the listener’s point of view, these words can be very concerning and somewhat annoying. They can trigger people to care or worry too much about how they should look or appear.
Does your country talk about people’s appearance openly?