Cultural globalization and young Korean women’s acculturative labor: K-beauty as hegemonic hybridity

Yuri Seo, Angela Gracia B Cruz, ‘Ilaisaane ME Fifita

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This article aims to understand how young Korean women respond to the changing ideals of K-beauty, a form of gender imagery embodied by Korean pop celebrities, when such ideals become exported as global cultural products. The findings reveal that K-beauty is characterized by three paradoxical themes: manufactured naturalness, hyper-sexualized cuteness, and the ‘harmonious kaleidoscope’. When we unravel these paradoxes further, we observe that they provoke unsettlement and ambivalence among young Korean women, who shed light on the acculturative labors of concealment, selective resistance, and compliance that permeate the field of K-beauty. We argue that through these new layers of women’s work, the paradoxes in beauty are re-domesticated, the globalizing Western dictates are brought into alignment with neo-Confucian cultural ideology, and a new hybridized hegemonic regime of feminine beauty becomes established.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-618
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • beauty
  • cultural globalization
  • gender
  • hegemony
  • hybridity
  • K-pop

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