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The Korean Society for Journalism & Communication Studies - Vol. 64 , No. 6

[ Article ]
Korean Journal of Journalism & Communication Studies - Vol. 64, No. 6, pp.124-160
Abbreviation: KSJCS
ISSN: 2586-7369 (Online)
Print publication date 31 Dec 2020
Received 07 Oct 2020 Revised 30 Nov 2020 Accepted 02 Dec 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.20879/kjjcs.2020.64.6.004

K-뷰티산업의 피부색주의
박소정**
**서울대학교 언론정보학과 박사후연구원 (psj25psj25@snu.ac.kr)

Colorism of K-Beauty Industry
Sojeong Park**
**Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Communication, Seoul National University (psj25psj25@snu.ac.kr)
Funding Information ▼

초록

본 연구는 K-뷰티산업의 피부색주의(colorism)를 문제화하고 관찰한다. 피부색주의란 피부색에 의거해 나타나는 차별을 의미하는 것으로, 한국 사회의 경우 미백의 이상화된 피부를 정점으로 하여 형성되는 위계의 담론에서 발견된다. 그리고 이 담론은 ‘K-뷰티’라는 명칭을 통해 구축된 미디어-뷰티 복합체를 통해 해외 수용자들에게 매개되고 있다. 흠결 없고 하얀 피부를 지닌 한국 스타의 신체가 동아시아를 중심으로 새로운 미의 모델로 유통됨에 따라 K-뷰티는 특정한 규범과 위계를 생산한다. 이러한 글로벌 미디어-뷰티 정경 내에서의 K-뷰티의 문화적 의미와 권력의 측면을 탐구하기 위해 본 연구는 K-뷰티와 관련한 온라인 자료를 관찰하고 동남아시아 국가의 K-뷰티 수용자들을 대상으로 표적집단면접(FGI)을 수행했다. 해외 K-뷰티 수용 국가 및 수용자들에게 한국은 ‘미백의 나라’로 인식되고 있으며, 서구의 모델을 대체하는 친근한 아름다움의 모델을 제공하고 있다. 그러나 한편으로 본 연구는 K-뷰티가 초국적 상품으로 유통되는 과정에서 피부색주의적 위계를 생산하고 있음을 발견하고 이를 비판적 시선으로 분석하고자 한다. K-뷰티는 한국 스타가 지닌 신체의 배타성을 통해, 동북아시아와 동남아시아 간의 위계 형성 통해, 그리고 인종적으로 타자화된 다른 신체에 대한 배척을 통해 제국적인 권력을 드러낸다. 우선 K-뷰티의 주요한 매개자인 K-팝 아이돌이 지닌 시각적 배타성은 피부색주의적인 양상으로 드러난다. 또한 동남아시아에서 생산되고 있는 유사 K-뷰티 제품들은 동북아시아를 이상적 미의 모델로 만들며 그 과정을 통해 동북아시아와 동남아시아 사이의 미의 위계를 생산 및 재생산한다. 마지막으로 살펴본 흑인 K-뷰티 유튜버들은 K-뷰티산업이 표방하는 다양성 및 포함성이 얼마나 제한적인가를 보여 준다. 이로써 ‘K’라는 표상의 힘이 강력하게 작동하는 K-뷰티의 영역은 특정한 피부색을 지닌 인종‧종족에게 배타적인 영토를 확보하려 함을 발견할 수 있다. 본 연구는 이러한 관찰을 바탕으로 그동안 한국 사회에서 간과되었던 인종과 종족, 피부색의 문제에 대한 감수성의 필요성을 주장한다.

Abstract

While K-Beauty is globally recognized as a burgeoning industry, this study explores and analyzes the colorism of the K-Beauty industry. Colorism, or discrimination based on skin colors, can be found in the discourse of hierarchies formed by the culmination of idealized skin called ‘mibaek’ in Korean society. And K-Beauty industry which is the Korean media-beauty complex mediates this discourse to overseas audiences. As the imagery of impeccably fair skin of Korean stars is epitomized as a new beauty model in East Asia, K-Beauty produces new norms and hierarchies that require critical exploration. What cultural significance does K-beauty have in the global media-beauty scene? And what hegemonic power does it exert? In order to answer these questions, this study explored various images and texts on K-beauty online and conducted focus group interviews in Thailand and Vietnam. The findings reveal that Korea is being perceived as a ‘country of white skin’ by overseas K-Beauty consumers. In particular, K-beauty provides Southeast Asian people with an attainable beauty model or relatable ideal, replacing Westernized beauty norms. However, on the other hand, colorism is produced in the process of K-beauty being circulated as a transnational product, and this study aims to provide a critical perspective on this. K-Beauty reveals its imperial power through the exclusivity of Korean stars’ bodies, the formation of a hierarchy between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, and its barrier to racially otherized bodies. First of all, K-pop idols who are the main mediators of K-beauty mostly conform to a specific visuality. This implies the confined Koreanness of K-beauty, which is not free from colorism as it excludes other racial visualities. Second, several quasi-K-beauty products in Southeast Asian countries regards the Northeastern look as a beauty model, highlighting a lighter complexion. And this produces and reproduces the hierarchy between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia. Lastly, this study pays attention to black beauty YouTubers who have tried K-beauty make-up. Their content and perceptions of some audiences reveal that the diversity and inclusivity of the K-beauty industry is highly limited or nothing more than a marketing rhetoric. As such, in the realm of K-Beauty, where the ‘K’ strongly signifies a certain power related to nationalism, it tries to secure a territory exclusive to a specific skin color. Based on all these findings, this study argues for the necessity of cultivating sensitivity to the matter of race, ethnicity, and skin color that have long been overlooked in Korean society, and suggests further inquiries for Korean media studies.


Keywords: K-Beauty, Colorism, Racism, Beauty industry, Skin color
키워드: K-뷰티, 피부색주의, 인종주의, 뷰티산업, 피부색

Acknowledgments

This article is based on Sojeong Park’s 2020 Ph.D. dissertation(본 논문은 박소정의 2020년도 박사학위논문의 일부 내용을 발췌 및 수정하여 작성되었음). This article was supported by the BK21 FOUR Program of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-4120200613754)(본 논문은 교육부 및 한국연구재단의 BK21 FOUR 사업의 지원을 받았음(관리번호 4120200613754)).


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