Koreans remain driven by ‘lookism’

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Koreans remain driven by ‘lookism’


The feet may be the least appreciated body part. Theoretically, feet are supposed to be far cleaner than hands, but that’s not what it feels like. While the feet bear the weight of the body all day long, even their owner rarely appreciates their service.

However, movies and television shows sometimes project romantic or erotic fantasies about feet. Secretly touching another person under the table with one’s foot is a typical scene suggesting an extramarital affair, eroticism or a tryst. In the movie “Bungee Jumping of Their Own,” Lee Byung-hun ties Lee Eun-ju’s shoelaces, and it became a textbook romantic scene. In “The Contact,” Jeon Do-yeon has a crush on her friend’s fiance and secretly tries on his shoes. On the latest hit television drama on SBS, “You Came From the Stars,” high heels appear as an important prop.

The KBS drama “Boys Over Flowers” had the most famous line about high heels, which was taken from the original Japanese comics. As Gu Hye-sun, whose family runs a dry cleaners, gets ready to attend a fancy party for the first time, she is told, “Nice shoes are the most important accessories. A fine pair of shoes will bring you to a fine place.”

British actress Emma Thompson added a memorable moment for high heels at the Golden Globes on Jan. 12. She walked the red carpet barefoot with her daughter. As a presenter, she appeared onstage barefoot, holding a pair of heels with red soles. “I just want you to know, this red, it’s my blood,” she said. She was also not wearing any shoes when she received an award for best actress at the National Board of Review last week.

Thompson said that she took off the heels as a feminist statement, but the social pressure to keep a certain body image is not limited to women. Men feel that they should be at least 6 feet tall and opt for thick insoles. Members of girl groups consume only 1,000 calories a day to maintain their slender figures and undergo challenging choreography with six-inch heels.

Thompson’s performance was delightful, but unfortunately, Koreans are still obsessed with “lookism,” regardless of gender and age. Korean society will have to bleed more, because even I don’t feel confident about ditching my high heels.

*The author is an editor of culture and sports news of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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