In South Korea it is no longer considered risky or extravagant to go “under the knife” and “beautify” yourself as a woman. Instead, as photographer Ji Yeo points out, “plastic surgery has become an integral part of Korea’s current culture”, and an often necessary step in the process of self improvement. In her latest photo series, Beauty Recovery Room, she captures women resting in their hotel room directly after their intensive procedures and waiting for the healing to begin. Although these images and the idea of going through such a process is perhaps shocking, all of these women had endured multiple procedures and planned for further augmentations in the future.
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South Korea ranks as the country with the highest per capita rate of cosmetic plastic surgery according to raw data compiled by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in 2010. What is driving these cultural shifts and this obsession with idealized beauty? It’s a trend which Ji Yeo says is rooted in a “male-dominated media that endlessly reinforces its model of the ideal woman”; one where men are judged by the size of their wallet and women by often unattainable standards of beauty.
Ji Yeo is currently attending the Rhode Island School of Design, where she is working towards her Master’s degree in Photography. Her current work focuses around ideas of beauty in contemporary culture. You can see more of her work exploring this theme, including photographs, performance and time-projects at jiyeo.com.