[KS] Skin whitening in East Asia

Jo Elfving-Hwang joanna.elfving-hwang at uwa.edu.au
Thu Sep 16 19:25:40 EDT 2021

Your contact may also be interested in this Special Edition in Asian Studies Review:  “Chasing Beauty: Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Lightening in Asia” (eds Nathan Porath and David Henley)


As with all beauty-related research, contextuality is important and even within same country the cosmetic aesthetic practices of one group may differ significantly from each other depending on age, gender, SES etc.

Best regards,

Associate Professor Jo Elfving-Hwang, PhD SFHEA
Director, Korea Research Centre
School of Social Sciences/Asian Studies  *  M257, 35 Stirling Hwy
+61864883522  *  joanna.elfving-hwang at uwa.edu.au<mailto:joanna.elfving-hwang at uwa.edu.au> * https://www.uwa.edu.au/able/research/Korea-Research-Centre-of-Western-Australia
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CRICOS Code: 00126G

Vice President, Korean Studies Association of Australasia (https://koreanstudiesaa.wordpress.com/)
Board Member, Australia Korea Business Council of Western Australia (https://www.akbcwa.org/)
Academic Workloads Advisory Committee, NTEU Representive

New publications:

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2021). The Body, Cosmetic Surgery and the Discourse of Westernization of Korean Bodies. In M. Craig (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Politics of Beauty (1 ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429283734-31

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2021). Researching corporate masculinities in South Korea. (1/2 ed.) (Portal: journal of multidisciplinary international studies). https://doi.org/10.5130/pjmis.v17i1-2.7470

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2020). Man Made Beautiful: The Social Role of Grooming and Body Work in Performing Middle-aged Corporate Masculinity in South Korea. Men and Masculinities. https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X20976730

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2020), ‘Media, Cosmetic Surgery and Aspirational Beauty Aesthetics of the Ageing Body in South Korea’ for a special edition of Asian Studies Review (‘Beauty and Whitening in Asia’), eds. D. Henley, N. Porath and A. Hardon 45(2): 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/10357823.2020.1736513 (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10357823.2020.1736513?journalCode=casr20)

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2020). Competency as an Embodied Social Practice: Clothing, Presentation of Self and Corporate Masculinity in South Korea. In J. Hoegaerds, & K. Aarvik (Eds.), Making It Like Man: Men, Masculinities and the Modern Career, pp. 137-151 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter). https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/551333

The University of Western Australia acknowledges that its campus is situated on Noongar land,  and that Noongar people remain the spiritual and cultural custodians of their land,  and continue to practise their values, languages, beliefs and knowledge.

From: Koreanstudies <koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com> On Behalf Of CedarBough T. Saeji
Sent: Thursday, 16 September 2021 4:26 PM
To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com>
Subject: Re: [KS] Skin whitening in East Asia

Elfving-Hwang, "Cosmetic Surgery and the Discourse of Westernization of Korean Bodies" 2021
Yip, AInsworth, Hugh "Beyond Whiteness- Beauty in Asia" 2019

On Thu, Sep 16, 2021 at 3:36 PM Werner Sasse <werner_sasse at hotmail.com<mailto:werner_sasse at hotmail.com>> wrote:
White face associated with youth and beauty: Take a look at the masks of mask dance dramas….

Sent from Mail<https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.microsoft.com%2Ffwlink%2F%3FLinkId%3D550986&data=04%7C01%7Cjoanna.elfving-hwang%40uwa.edu.au%7C75f8f22975af4ac760a008d978ecc169%7C05894af0cb2846d8871674cdb46e2226%7C1%7C0%7C637673780524701733%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=SGDUs3TjCqP1d4maAQxsUcNeRYfgB%2BpNnKdhFDsF1kQ%3D&reserved=0> for Windows 10

From: Jennifer Jung-Kim<mailto:jenniferjungkim at gmail.com>
Sent: Donnerstag, 16. September 2021 14:52
To: Korean Studies Discussion List<mailto:koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com>
Subject: Re: [KS] Skin whitening in East Asia

Although this article does not focus solely on skin-lightening, the authors argue that Koreans beauty standards are not focused on trying to emulate Western standards, but rather yangban ideals.

Gender, Globalization and Aesthetic Surgery in South Korea

Ruth Holliday and Joanna Elfving-Hwang Body & Society 2012 18: 58
DOI: 10.1177/1357034X12440828

The online version of this article can be found at:

I look forward to other responses by Listserv members.

Jennifer Jung-Kim (she/her)

On Wed, Sep 15, 2021 at 9:51 PM Namhee Lee <namheeleeucla at gmail.com<mailto:namheeleeucla at gmail.com>> wrote:
Dear Koreanstudies list members:

This is an inquiry from a colleague who works at Google regarding the "use of skin lightening in East Asia/or historical beauty norms around skin tone." If you have done research or know someone who has done research on these issues, please kindly respond to this email.

I am currently working on a skin lightening policy proposal to limit the advertising of such products on Google platforms. The impetus for this change is multifactored -- partly due to the presence of toxic ingredients such as mercury and hydroquinone; partly to discriminatory and misleading marketing that suggest the life outcomes of people with lighter skin are superior to those with darker skin; and partly due to historical systemic discrimination against darker skin tones whether due to racial or economic factors. The research that I have conducted illustrates that at least some of these factors is present in every region of the world, but I am also looking to get a more nuanced perspective of East Asian beauty practices regarding skin lightening. Might you know anyone in-region in the medical field (dermatology) or social studies who can speak to the use of skin lightening in the region and/or historical beauty norms around skin tone? I recognize this is a very niche topic, but any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks in advance,

Namhee Lee
Professor of Modern Korean History
Asian Languages & Cultures
Director, Center for Korean Studies
she / her / hers


CedarBough T. Saeji  ∞     서이지 ● 瑞利智
Profile on Academia.edu<https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fpusan.academia.edu%2FCedarBoughSaeji&data=04%7C01%7Cjoanna.elfving-hwang%40uwa.edu.au%7C75f8f22975af4ac760a008d978ecc169%7C05894af0cb2846d8871674cdb46e2226%7C1%7C0%7C637673780524711681%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=6AedLSHRnJyj5Ej4a%2FzP8ATvaOGixAm9dhR50qFfiaE%3D&reserved=0>
Assistant Professor of Korean and East Asian Studies, Pusan National University Department of Global and International Studies

Skype: c.saeji
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Mailing address: 부산광역시 수영구 광안3동 1062-27 푸른도시빌라 402호

"Preserving intangible culture as static performances in the hope of sustaining cultural diversity may do very little to foster the processes of change and regeneration that are needed to ensure cultural vitality and heterogeneity" (Pietrobruno 2009: 240).
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