Happy Black Day: Korea’s Single Awareness Day

In America, Valentine’s Day means roses and a box of chocolates for our significant other. It is arguably the most romantic national holiday for us. Apparently, for many Asian countries, a single day to show love isn’t enough.

In Japan, Korea and China, Valentine’s day is celebrated quite differently. This holiday is an opportunity for women to present men with chocolate as an expression of love. Men do not give women anything in return until a month later. On March 14th, otherwise known as White day, men reply to the women who gave them gifts to indicate whether or not they feel the same.

As it turns out, White Day is not the only holiday we’re missing out on. A month after White Day, on April 14th, Korea celebrates yet another interesting holiday: Black Day.

As you may have guessed, Black Day is practically the opposite of the two romantic holidays. This is a day is for those who did not receive gifts on Valentine’s Day or White Day. Yup, this unofficial holiday is for single people.

To celebrate this day, people wear black and eat black-colored food. Specifically, people indulge in jajangmyeon, a noodle dish with a thick sauce made of chunjang (soybean paste), diced pork and vegetables. As sad as this holiday may seem, people have put in quite a bit of effort to make this holiday fun such as jajangmyeon-eating competitions.

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Want to celebrate this holiday? Check out how to cook jajangmyeon for yourself!

This story was originally published in April 2014 and has been republished in honor of Black Day. 

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[VIDEO] 100 Years of Korean Beauty in One Minute

 

STORY BY REERA YOO

In the latest episode of its 100 Years of Beauty web series, YouTube channel Cut highlights the evolving beauty trends of North and South Korea.

The video begins with Korea’s beauty standard of the 1910s, when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule. According to the video, Korean women of that era preferred to have ornamented hairstyles and natural makeup, with pale skin, natural brows and no contouring.

Once the video hits the 1950s, beauty standards become divided not only by decade but also by region. After the Korean War, North and South Korea had extremely polarized standards of beauty because the two countries adopted different economic systems.

Robin Park, the researcher for the video, said that the North’s standards of beauty were based on a woman’s ability to work and contribute to society. As a result, North Korean women used minimal products, and makeup trends in North Korea remained almost unchanged from 1959 to the early 90s. Meanwhile, South Korea mirrored Western or Japanese beauty trends and experimented with various makeup products.

As of 2015, South Korean beauty standards emphasize bright, clear skin and accentuating natural features. The final South Korean look in Cut’s video, however, seems to embody the sexier style of K-pop stars, such as CL and Hyuna, instead of an average present-day South Korean woman.

You can learn more about the research behind the looks below:

 

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com 

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Asian Street Style: Skipping Out On The Super Skinnies

 

We stopped by Alex Finch’s street style blog to explore what looks are favored in Korea right now outside of winter-appropriate coats and jackets.  Seoullites have dropped their skinny denim and leggings and are now choosing loose-fitting, slouchier bottoms.  These aren’t new trends.  We’ve seen everything from harem pants to wide-leg trousers revisited from time to time throughout various fashion phases, and they’re once again gaining more popularity among women and men during Korea’s colder months.

Another garment we see popping up quite often on the streets rather than in the comforts of home is knit sweatpants.  Contemporary design houses spent a good portion of the past year releasing their reworked vision of the casual bottoms that were once only made for athletic purposes.  What do you think?  Do you prefer the idea of keeping it cozy and casual or do skinnies hold a permanent spot as a closet staple?

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Slim Sweatpants

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A Much Sleeker, Tailored Gaucho Style

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Mixed With Classic Cut Coats

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Another Mix Of Fall & Winter Trends

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Men’s Style Inspiration

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A Second Men’s Style Inspiration

 

 All Photos And Feature Image Courtesy Of Iamalexfinch.net 


Artist Reimagines Western Fairy Tales with a Korean Twist

 

Anna built a snowman and Elsa formed her ice castle in an unnamed Nordic country. But what if the story of Disney’s Frozen took place on the Korean peninsula?

Korean artist and illustrator Na Young Wu, who goes by the handle Obsidian (@obsidian00) on Twitter, recently unveiled a series of illustrations depicting Western fairy tales as if they had taken place in Korea. Elsa’s glittering dress, for example, would look more like a hanbok, like so:

 

Check out the rest of the artist’s Korean-Western fairy tales series below. You can click on the tweets to view each image separately. The Frog PrinceThe Little Mermaid and Snow White:

 

 

Alice in WonderlandLittle Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast:

 

More Hans Christian Andersen: The Wild Swans and The Snow Queen with Chinese and Japanese influences, respectively.  

You can view more of the artist’s work on her Naver blog. Follow her on Twitter (@00obsidian00).

 

–STORY BY JAMES S. KIM
This story was originally featured on iamkoream.com

Estée Lauder in Competition With Korean Skincare Brands

 

Estée Lauder, an American company which manufactures prestige beauty products, has made its mark in skincare for over 60 years. Today, it has become a household name for many.

Although Estée Lauder’s success is undeniable, they are well aware that times have changed and trends continuously shift directions.  According to Fashionista, Estée Lauder recognizes they are no longer spearheading the skincare forefront, but now Korean brands are breaking into the international field and successfully doing so. CEO of Estéee Lauder, Fabrizio Freda, admits that they’ve “[seen] this coming for a long time.”

“The way to compete with Korea is to embrace [these trends] and to bring them around the world. Our brands — Clinique, namely — has been one of the first to bring BB creams and CC trends to the U.S., which was actually a Korean trend,” says Freda.

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Photo courtesy of www.prettygossip.com

Photo courtesy of http://koreancosmetics.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of http://koreancosmetics.blogspot.com

 

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What makes Korean skincare the leaders of the market? This article from Fast Company looks inside the booming Korean skincare market and reveals a number of explanations for its success.

For instance, 2011 marked the release of BB creams (a hydrating, anti-aging foundation with SPF) in the United States. As you can imagine, this new product was (and still is) all the rage. However, BB creams were already lining the shelves of Korean stores five years prior.

In addition to Korean skincare simply being ahead of its time, the Korean approach to skincare takes on preventative measures instead of the American method of covering up the skin’s blemishes. Not to mention the all-natural appeal that Korean brands bring by implementing ingredients such as snail, placenta, chia seeds and volcanic clay into their products.

 

Photo courtesy of http://agathblog.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of http://agathblog.blogspot.com

 

If you want to find out what the hype is all about, there is The Face Shop, Laneige, Etude House and Innisfree to name a few. Let us know if they work for you!

 

Feature photo courtesy of jp1958

An Inside Look Into Seoul’s Street Style Trends With Alex Finch

 

Winter trends continue on the streets of Seoul as we move towards the New Year with cozy knits, layers and oversized coats to keep out the biting chill.  Looking back over the street trends of 2014, we decided to give you a short reading break from what is “in” for Korean fashion, and instead share a bit of an inside perspective of these flowing fads and beloved street portraits.

With over a hundred thousand followers and thousands of re-blogs daily, Alex Finch’s photos straight from Seoul have captured everyone’s attention on social media to online galleries for Vogue.  While he’s out finding intriguing looks, we ask him what is it about Seoul and its fashionable people that attract growing international appreciation.

 

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Winter Trends, Image Courtesy Of Alex Finch

Audrey Magazine: Compared to other Asian metropolitans, what fascinates you about the fashion found on the streets of Seoul worn by its city dwellers?
Alex Finch: I should start by saying that I have only seriously shot in Seoul, but have been in Tokyo a few times. I think that I like the “fashion with restraint” (don’t remember where I heard that, but I think it fits) that makes for a good selection of photos with variety. Different areas of the city definitely give you groupings of different styles, but I like the variety I see on the streets that I frequent.

AM: You’ve been taking street portraits for quite awhile, do you feel Korean fashion is more about current trend or individual eclecticism? 
AF: Again, I think there’s a mixture of both. I hear a lot of people say that Koreans just follow whatever trends are around, but I’m not sure that’s any different to any other nation that falls outside the main fashion centres of the world. However, I have some friends who don’t seem to follow any trends and just make up their own style on the go. I admire that a lot.
 
AM: Your photos were extremely popular during Seoul Fashion Week, is there more buzz outside versus indoors while runway shows are being presented?  Can you share with us how a day goes spent capturing all the amazing outfits being worn at the seasonal SFWs?
AF: First, I should say thank you. Most of the photographers I shoot regularly with would rather be outside shooting the street and what they see more commonly on famous foreign photographers’ websites during fashion weeks, but I did enjoy shooting backstage during this season because I got to speak to the models and try a new style.
 
AM: What intrigues you more during your street portraits, the individual garments people wear or how they style things as a whole?  What makes the image have more impact?
AF: I honestly think it depends. Shooting for this long, I have seen instances of both. When I’m snapping without asking, it’s usually an item that I see, be it shoes or a bag. When I’m shooting a full body portrait, then the entire look makes a difference.
 
AM: Finally, what is your favorite season to photograph people and their fashion choices?
AF: I’m a huge fan of spring turning to summer. It’s not too hot and the colours begin to come back after the dark tones and heavy jackets of winter. It’s also much more comfortable for me as a photographer!

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From Head-To-Toe Trend, This Little One Shows Us How It’s Done, Image Courtesy Of Iamalexfinch.net

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Winter Trends 2014, Image Courtesy Of Alex Finch

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Fall/Winter Trends 2014, Image Courtesy Of Alex Finch

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More Color Blocking For Fall 2014, Image Courtesy Of Alex Finch


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Fall-time In Seoul 2014, Image Courtesy Of Iamalexfinch.net

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Favorite Summer Accessories 2014, Image Courtesy Of Iamalexfinch.net

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Enjoying Spring 2014, Image Courtesy Of Iamalexfinch.net

Feature Images Courtesy Of Iamalexfinch.com and Iamalexfinch.net


Image of the Day: Billboard in Korea Encourages You to “Step In” And Stop Child Abuse

 

It’s easy for many of us to say we’re against child abuse, but how willing are we to interfere, step in, and do what we can to stop child abuse? That’s exactly what this billboard in South Korea asks anyone who passes by.

It’s quite difficult to ignore this powerful, interactive ad which shows the silhouette of two people: An angry adult holding a glass bottle over his head and the scared child he is threatening to hurt.

 

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At the top of this upsetting image are the words “Child abuse, you can prevent it” along with an arrow pointing to the blank space in between the abusive adult and the child. This is where passersby are asked to “step in.”

The powerfully symbolic ad truly shows its brilliance when an onlooker steps in between the silhouettes. Suddenly, a superhero logo will pop up on the onlooker’s shadow with an emergency number and the words, “Report to become a hero for children.”

The message is instantly clear. Anyone can become a hero and help prevent child abuse. In fact, simply reporting child abuse can save lives.

 

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All photos courtesy of demilked.com.

 

Street Style From Japan To China: Knit Hat Trend For Winter

 

Knit caps (or beanies) seem to be the headwear accessory favorite for keeping warm in Japan, Korea and China. Nearly every day now, street style blog images pop up with people sporting seamed caps.  Practical and simple, this style hat has been popularized by media from television shows through out the decades to celebrities and musicians that make it their fashion trade mark.  Take inspiration from these three countries for styling a cozy knit cap into your winter rotation.

 


 

1. Japan
We’ve been seeing an abundance of knit hats complementing classic pencil skirts and tops, or midi dresses with long jackets and coats for a more casual look.

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Images Courtesy Of Style-arena.jp

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Images Courtesy Of Style-arena.jp

 


 

2. China
Taking a more urban approach to headwear, here is a look we often see on musicians and celebrities in the United States—knit hats and leather biker jackets.

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Image Courtesy Of Stylites.net

 


 

3. Korea
Mix your styles up with interesting scarves, oversized coats (which are right on trend for winter), or easy-going crew neck sweatshirts.

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Images Courtesy Of Iamalexfinch.net And Sol-sol-street.tumblr.com

 


 

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Want to add some cozy knits to your wardrobe?  Check out famous Korean-American milliner Eugenia Kim’s designs. Here’s a few of our favorites:

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Eugenia Kim’s Marley Knit Beanie

Available in black and white at Intermixonline.com for $228.

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Eugenia Kim’s Pom Pom “Mimi” Beanie

Available in black and white at Barneys.com for $235.

 


 

Not too keen on spending a couple hundred dollars on a knit cap? Here’s some great options that are more budget friendly!

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American Apparel’s Recycled Fisherman Beanie

Available in nine different colors and options at Americanapparel.net for $22.

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KTAG NYC’s Side Eye Pom Beanie

Available at Ktagclothingnyc.com for $30.

Feature Images Courtesy Of Sol-sol-street.tumblr.com, Iamalexfinch.net And Shootingthestyle.com

 

Can The Korean Matching Trend Work For Couples in America?

 

By now, we all know about the popular Korean trend known as the “couple look.” To achieve the look, a couple coordinates their outfits with the same color, shirt, shoes. They can even go to extreme lengths and match head-to-toe in identical his-and-hers versions of an entire outfit.

Many couples have said they do this in an effort to show affection. Others say it helps as a clear sign for strangers to know they are off the market. Some even claim that they simply do it for fashion since it is so attention grabbing.

Whatever the reason may be, the matching trend has clearly been a hit for Korean couples. So what about American couples? It’s certainly not uncommon to see couples in the same color, but what about entire matching outfits?

Luckily for us, we don’t need to wonder. Refinery21 writer, Connie Wang, decided to go ahead and use this trend for her social experiment to see how it would play out for a couple in America.

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“It’s hard for me to get embarrassed about what I wear,” Wang wrote. “However, upon receiving this assignment to test-run one of the most prevalent fashion trends in Korea, I broke into a cold, miserable sweat. When I told my boyfriend he’d be roped into it, too, he turned a similar shade of gray.”

The couple went through an entire week of matching and documenting their experience. On the first day, they admitted that the process of picking the outfit and getting ready was quite fun, but as soon as they stepped outside, things changed.

“Immediately after we left the apartment, I felt more self-conscious about my outfit than I’ve ever felt in my life,” she recalled. “It was like a joke, and like we were in costume instead of in clothes, and I wanted to hide.”

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The next few days remained uncomfortable for the two. In fact, Wang’s boyfriend had a tendency to keep away from her in public to avoid the discomfort. The couple did prove one thing though. Some Korean couples claim that they matched to make sure others are aware of their taken status. That also seems to be the case in America.

“Note to all women who want to avoid being hit on: Dress up in the exact same outfit as one of your male friends. It’s like wearing a wedding ring on your entire body.”

Eventually the couple became a little bit more accepting of the idea, but “not so bad after all” isn’t exactly the best response you can get. There were various emotions involved. Wang’s boyfriend felt emasculated while Wang herself felt the need to put on lipstick to appear more feminine than the man sitting next to her. Oddly enough, the couple eventually stopped noticing.

“I can’t say I liked it,” Wangs boyfriend said on the very last day of the experiment. “But now I get it.”

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All photos courtesy of Refinery29.

 

Outrage Over Sexist Advice Given By Korea’s Labor Ministry

 

South Korea’s Labor Ministry has been blasted for advising women to tell potential employers that they have no problems with sexist jokes in the office and have absolutely no interest in getting married, reports the Korea Herald.

The sexist interview tips were posted on a government-run recruitment site and offered “ideal answers” to questions female job seekers may face in a job interview.

In response to a question about sexual harassment, women in South Korea were advised to say, “I wouldn’t mind casual jokes about sex and it is sometimes necessary to deal with [sexual harassment] by making a joke in return.”

The ministry also encouraged female job applicants to say, “I have no interest in getting married for awhile” even if they did have marriage plans because “it is common for female workers to quit their jobs after getting married.”

When asked about child bearing plans, women should respond: “Although I have a responsibility as a woman to raise a child, I am more than willing to continue working [after having a baby] if the company recognizes [my abilities].”

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And of course, since women don’t make any meaningful contributions in the workplace, the ministry said women should promise to always “to do [their] very best even if it’s just making a single cup of coffee.”

The post sparked the fury of many NGOs, including the Korean National Council of Women, and was deleted by the ministry on Friday.

“It is sexist of any employer to only ask women about their plans on marriage and child bearing,” the Korean National Council of Women said in a joint statement. “And the government is in fact encouraging employers to discriminate against women.”

In 2013, South Korea ranked last among OECD countries for employing female college graduates.

 

–STORY BY REERA YOO
This story was originally published on iamkoream.com

Photo courtesy of AFP