PHOTO: ‘V’ or Kim Tae Hyung from Korean band BTS
Over the past decade South Korean men have become the world’s biggest male spenders on skincare and beauty products. The market has grown by 44% in the country in the six years before 2017, according to Euromonitor.
This figure is even higher for Gen Z respondents (the ones born after 2000), with 58% saying they pamper themselves with “lengthy” beauty or grooming treatments at least once per week, nearly twice as much as South Korean men overall at 34%.
About three quarters of South Korean men undertake a beauty or grooming treatment at least once a week, according to a recent survey by GlobalData. How many men in the West are following these trends? A lot fewer.
According to Roald Maliangkay, director of the Korea Institute at The Australian National University, this phenomenon can be explained in part by the influence of K-pop, South Koreas massively popular music industry.
“I am struck by how many local young men are now emulating the look typical of Korean male idols. I saw many men in sharply cut outfits with perfectly groomed dyed hair and double eyelids (as a result of cosmetic surgery), and I even noticed a few men wearing some light makeup,” he said in a special report on CNN.
The origins of South Korea’s male beauty obsession are complex, however. Maliangkay’s 2010 study “The effeminacy of male beauty in Korea” highlights an alternative theory: that the rejection of traditional masculinity was in fact led by women as a backlash against severe gender inequality.
One of the main catalysts, his paper argues, was the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Unemployment across the country rose, but figures show that women were disproportionately affected.
“In the year following the crash, female employment fell by 8.2%, almost 3 percentage points more than the equivalent figure for men. Resentment over this and other workplace inequalities, as well as the rise of literature and film questioning traditional gender roles, led women to seek out softer male figures who had the potential to make the opposite sex feel more powerful.”
The trend may also result from pressure on men to compete in a tough job market, according to James Turnbull, a writer and lecturer based in the city of Busan, South Korea, who specialises in Korean feminism and popular culture.
“In this cut-throat environment, 20 and 30 somethings are all about improving their ‘specs’ with extra degrees, courses, internships, English-language qualifications and so on.”
Turnbull added that Korean companies routinely ask job applicants for photographs on their CVs.
Katherine Spowart, who runs the beauty blog SkinfullofSeoul, stressed that Korean men still face specific social pressures.
“Male beauty is generally much more accepted as a concept in South Korea, but it doesn’t relieve each gender of their traditional roles in mainstream culture. Gender roles are still fairly rigid, sexual choices other than heterosexuality are generally not talked about, and it’s a patriarchal culture.”
But now the West is fighting back in the pursuit of perfect brows and flawless skin. In September, Chanel released Boy de Chanel, its first cosmetics range for men. The line features eight shades of tinted foundation, a two-in-one brow pencil and brush, and a transparent matte lip balm.
Aiming to “write the vocabulary of a new personal aesthetic for men,” the French house piloted the collection in South Korea before making it available online to US shoppers last November.
But David Yi, founder of the US-based male beauty blog Very Good Light, says there are still huge challenges for beauty brands intending to woo men.
“There are still many, many years until makeup becomes widely accepted in the US. South Korea is so progressed when it comes to beauty,” he added. “They have a makeup look solely for men that’s completely different from women, which is what K-pop male stars subscribe to.”
Excerpts from a CNN article HERE.
Private hospitals overcharging: 30-300 percent
More than half the private hospitals operating in Thailand are overcharging for medical services and prescription drugs. Of the private hospitals alleged to be overcharging, the rates have been calculated to be 30% up to 300% over the actual production cost.
The Director General of the Internal Trade Department claims that 295 of the 353 private hospitals have submitted their production costs, and charges for medicines and services to a working group two days ago. 58 hospitals are yet to submit their information to the panel. They were required to do so by April 4 under the 1999 Prices of Goods and Services Act.
The DG says the panel studied the production costs of 10,146 items covering medicines, medical supplies and medical services and compares them with appropriate cost structures available from a variety of sources, including importers, wholesalers, big drugstores, manufacturers, the Office of Insurance Commission, the Thai Life Assurance Association, the Thai General Insurance Association and the Comptroller-General’s department.
The report, once completed, will be submitted to the Central Committee on Prices of Goods and Services, chaired by the commerce ministry, to approve the measures recommended in the report.
Hospitals accused of over-pricing will be asked to lower their charges. Otherwise the department will request patients or affected parties to file complaints about the overcharging with the department so that legal action can be taken.
Thailand still in the world’s Top 14 for TB cases
Thailand is struggling with tuberculosis, and remains in the list of the world’s 14 worst hit countries.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks.
Presently, one-quarter of the world’s population is thought to be infected with TB, with more than 95% of the cases occurring in developing countries.
Arth Nana, executive committee chairman of the Anti-TB Association, says Thailand needs to do away with TB before 2021. In 2017 the Disease Control Department put in place a five year goal to rid Thailand of the TB plague. The World Health Organsation has set its own goal to reduce the number of TB patients to fewer than 10 in 100,000 by 2035.
“We are one of the 14 worst countries hit by this severely infectious disease which has spread across 200 countries, said Arth.
But with three years to go, so far Thailand has made little inroads into tackling the spread and growth of the TB problem. In Bangkok new cases of the disease are on the rise, much of this due to the influx of migrant workers.
The high number of drug-resistant cases was among the factors that put Thailand in the pool of 14 worst-hit countries for TB ranked by the World Health Organisation.
According to the Bangkok Post, Dr Wongwat Lewlak, deputy chief of City Hall’s Health Department, blames our “hectic and stressful lifestyles in the crowded city” for making people neglect their health.
“The need to earn a living means many patients are too busy to remember those appointments with doctors or they decide to stop taking the drugs as soon as they start to feel better.”
Top 5 reasons Phuket is the ideal medical tourism destination
Emerging markets and financial injection from the government has seen the medical tourism sector explode in Thailand.
Companies such as Bangkok Dusit, who operate more than 40 hospitals across six different brands, provide a staggering 8,000 beds. And they are expanding thanks to their acquisitions of hospitals and “wellness centres” in major Thai hubs such as Phuket.
This is precisely the reason why Phuket is becoming more and more attractive for medical travellers searching for top-notch care at a fraction of the price. Eugen Pauls of MyMediTravel explains…
“Boasting stunning golden shorelines and a host of attractions, Phuket is one of the go-to places when it comes to combining affordable medical care with an outstanding destination. Cheap flights, access to first-class surgeons and spa like features make it the perfect medical tourism vacation hotspot.”
Yet medical travellers are drawn to Phuket for a number of other reasons. Here are just five…
With more than 30 beaches in Phuket, medical tourists are spoilt for choice as far as relaxing, pre and post-treatment is concerned. From tummy tucks to breast augmentation, all manner of plastic surgery procedures in Phuket are covered within easy reach of a glorious coastline. Whether it’s Patong, Karon or Kata beach, Nai Harn in the south as well as Surin, Bang Tao and Mai Khao beaches in the north, medical travellers visit for Phuket’s azure-colored waters and outstanding beaches and islands.
When having a medical procedure in Phuket, there is a wide variety of budget-friendly and luxury accommodation available including hostels, spa resorts and boutique style hotels. This gives the medical tourist incredible choice and accessibility to reserving their chosen clinic within close proximity of their lodging. This is just as important if any post-op appointments are required.
Medical tourists can relax and recuperate with a spot of retail therapy in one of Phuket’s many glitzy malls. Central Festival & Floresta is one of the largest shopping centres in Thailand and has transformed the island’s central area featuring a large cinema complex and throngs of designer and luxury stores. JungCeylon in Patong has now been joined by a new Central Shopping Centre with another new Central shopping experience opening up in Cherng Talay in 2020. Medical travellers can also head to Phuket’s markets and street stores in places like Phuket Town where they can discover a myriad of stylish boutiques.
4. Island Hopping
For adventure-seekers, Phuket offers a diverse selection of more than 30 islands which can be explored by sail or power boat. There is Phang Nga Bay, the location for a James Bond film, and the Similan Islands, offering some of the finest diving experiences throughout Thailand, not to mention Koh Phi Phi and the surrounding uninhabited islands.
5. Clinical Standards
Thailand’s medical tourism sector is second to none featuring more than 60 Joint Commission International or JCI accredited medical facilities and clinics including in Phuket. Surgeons and doctors undergo thorough medical training abroad and develop their medical expertise, whilst clinics in Phuket provide top-class care and adhere to the highest standards in patient safety.
For example, Phuket Plastic Surgery Institute performs 40 types of cosmetic procedures across 5 specialties. A dedicated PPSI Concierge Service is available for selected treatments including complimentary airport, hotel and hospital transfers. Meanwhile, Bangkok Hospital Phuket welcomes a staggering 80,000 international medical visitors annually delivering a range of bespoke healthcare and wellness packages.
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