Embodying hypersensibility through plastic surgery under the drastic austerity regime in South Korea

  • Jongmi Kim (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The Asian financial crisis played an important role in massive increase of aesthetic surgery in South Korea over the past 15 years. Many indicators show that South Korea has the world’s highest per capital rate of plastic surgery surgeries in the world. The scholars have tried to provide plausible explanation why, in particular, South Korean women became fascinated with plastic surgery surgery to modify their bodies. The Asian financial crisis in 1997 led to implement the drastic austerity measures that was one of the main conditions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange
for loans as a rescue package. By contrast, the consumption of the plastic surgery had been dramatically increased during the austerity regime in South Korea. Several feminists have blamed neoliberal entrepreneur culture in South Korea since the financial crisis in 1997 for exploiting women’s body by having plastic surgery. This paper examines why the austerity regime impacted on women’s bodily sensibility and how this gendered practice of consumption was dramatically increased under the austerity regime? It will be argued that the austerity regime played as historic momentum to provoke to transform women’s bodily hypersensibility. Secondly, it will be examined how these aesthetic practice draws connections between embodied practice and the socioeconomic changes like austerity measures. This work also tries
to find a possible explanation for the reason why women began to shift their interests to their body images to overcome social disadvantages andobstacles which were caused by the brutal austerity regime as a survival strategy. Whether or not aesthetic surgery played negative role in promoting women’s socioeconomic status is not proper question in this context. Instead this paper focuses on how the aesthetic surgery became an agentic practice for survival. This approach can assist in alternative understandings of the ways the conditions of possibility for gendered embodiments and social change to emerge through practice.
Period16 Dec 2016
Event title11th Association for Cultural Studies Conference: Crossroads in Cultural Studies
Event typeConference
LocationSydney, Australia
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • plastic surgery
  • austerity
  • financial crisis
  • body modification