[ENTERTAINMENT]Korean Stars Prepared to Bare Their AllOne of the first Korean stars to wear a miniskirt in public was the celebrated singer Yoon Bok-hee, back in 1967. That fashion statement was so shocking to Koreans then that on the very day Yoon returned from the United States wearing the infamous little skirt and long boots, someone threw a raw egg at her.
How times have changed. In the 21st century, many Korean stars and celebrities looking for attention openly use their physical attractiveness in increasingly flamboyant ways.
The TV actress Jeong Yang sought and found popularity － or at least recognition － by increasing and exploiting her breast size.
Though she started her career in a supporting role in the popular TV comedy "Se Chingu" ("Three Friends"), her breakthrough came when she published a nude pictorial on the Internet. She added fuel to the flames of the controversy when she admitted to several rounds of plastic surgery. Once she became well-known, however, she no longer wanted to be known as a sex symbol. Recently she remarked, "I want to be judged not by the size of my breasts but by my acting ability."
For good or ill, her success has inspired other hopefuls on the Korean entertainment scene. Some other new faces, such as Kim Ji-eun, are trying their luck at the same strategy, with some success. Kim proudly said, "Though I am not everybody's sweetheart yet, people easily recognize me as the glamorous woman in the TV sitcom."
And the trend of stars showing skin is not just limited to women. Shinhwa, a popular boy band, surprised the Korean entertainment scene with its plan to publish a nude magazine in mid-July.
The six members were not terrorized by indignant egg-throwers; instead, the news was received happily by their devoted fans. With a new album on the way, Shinhwa is predicted by some in the music industry to take the place of H.O.T as most popular dance band in Korea. Kim Tae-shin, a spokesperson for Shinhwa, said the band's decision to publish the magazine was not designed for shock effect. Kim explained, "The photographer Kim Jung-man suggested the idea suddenly while shooting some photos for the new album cover because he was so impressed with the band members' appearance."
Singer Lee Yun-jeong is ready to add her name to the already lengthy list of those fearless stars as well. Lee, who has been well-known for years for her experimental music, appears on the cover of her new, soon-to-be-released single with nothing covering her body but her long, dyed hair.
It is questionable whether this new liberality is truly welcome － except of course by the producers of those TV shows and music albums. By creating more scenes in swimming pools and similarly revealing situations, they are able to boost ratings.
Yoon Bok-hee may have started the trend toward increased body-baring back in 1967, but with any luck, her openness will lead to something more substantial than simple nudity.
by Chun Su-jin
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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