Thursday, March 24, 2011

Awesome Things about Korea #31: Being told you look like ________________ celebrity

Image is one of the most important things in Korea.  The sheer number of treatments, creams, and surgeries that are advertised every day just goes to show what Koreans like to do to look more beautiful, more handsome, and in some cases--more Western.

Stares are common for foreigners upon arriving in Korea, merely because our facial features and body structures are so vastly different than most Koreans.  Hair and eye color vary widely amongst foreigners, along with the shape of our noses, lips, faces, and eyes.  Being told you have a small face by Koreans is considered a compliment.  Big eyes with long eyelashes are equally coveted, along with a strong patrician nose.

Be prepared to be gazed at, stared at, awed by, and perhaps even curiously touched a few times in your stay in Korea.  But take note, it's not meant in spite or anger 99.9% of the time.  Korea is a fairly homogeneous country, and anything new to them is just how things were new to us as babies.

The other realm of image here is being compared to celebrities, whether they are Korean or foreign.  If a student tells you look like Bruce Willis or Harry Potter, that's quite the compliment!  In some ways celebrity worship is much more intense here, and this is one way that it is exhibited.

Without fail, every time I have changed schools and started a new job, I will have at least a few students who come up to me and say, "Teacher, you look like Hermione from 'Harry Potter.'"  It was something that I had never imagined hearing from anyone until I was living in Korea, but I won't deny the compliment.  Most recently I kept running into the same few 6th grade girls at my elementary school, who always addressed me as "Emma Watson" as opposed to my given name.  (I doubted that they even remember my real name.)   It gives me a smile that I carry with me for the rest of the day, just because it's awesome.

Readers, what celebrity or famous person have you ever been compared to in your life?  You can leave your comments below or on the blog's new Facebook page, found here.


  1. I've had students say I look like Harry Potter before, but I'm really not sure if that actually is a compliment...

  2. When I was living in Chicago right after My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out I had a few people say I looked like Nia Vardalos. Not sure if that is exactly accurate but it was nice to be compared to someone famous.


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