Jul 14, 2009  •  In Beauty, Information, Korean, Personal

Koreans and the Small Face Phenomenon

Having grown up in the U.S., I have heard on more than one occasion that celebrities possess larger heads compared to those of the general population, the idea being that the larger head will have larger features, which will show better on screen. There is even an episode of Entourage where Turtle proclaims, “The bigger the head, the bigger the star.”

However, in Korea, the exact opposite is true. The smaller your head/face, the more attractive you are.


A picture of Ivy, a Korean celebrity, posing between two fans.
Notice how small her face is compared to that of “normal” people.
(image source)

It is not uncommon for foreigners to be utterly confounded when first met with this phenomenon. “Gosh, your face is so small!” may sound like an inappropriate remark, but it is in fact a high compliment among Koreans.

Online Korean forums are often abuzz with face size discussions. When debating up-and-coming stars, it is not unusual to find comments such as “Her face is so small…she’s so pretty!” or “She’ll never make it because her head is too big.” In 2008, one of the most popular articles on Naver, a Yahoo-like portal, concerned the average Korean face size.

Koreans’ fascination with small faces often delve deep into the celebrity world, with stars with unusually small (and coveted) faces are asked to hold up every-day objects next to their heads…even busting out measuring tapes for proof!


Actress Han Yehseul can cover her entire face with a CD. (image source)


Model/actress Koh Ara’s face is a mere 17cm, or 6.69 inches, long. (image source)

I’m not really sure where the small face phenomenon originated. However, it is widely believed among Koreans that small faces photograph/video well, and that a smaller face will make you look skinner in photos as well. In a culture so obsessed with media and image, it is not difficult to see how this idea established such a strong foothold in the Korean psyche.

The cultural fixation on small faces has even coined a new term: the “V-line.” To Koreans, a small, perfectly oval face is no longer ideal. That oval must be made even smaller to create a V (a pointed chin).

Koreans are so obsessed with small faces that one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures involves shaving down one’s cheeks and jawline to undo what mother nature gave you. Take a look at these “before” and “after” photos of actress Park Minyoung:


(image source)

I once read that the jaw-shaving surgery is so in demand because it kills two birds with one stone: your diet is restricted to liquids for a full month after surgery, so you end up losing a lot of weight too!

I’m not sure where I stand on this issue. I think that if the size of your head/face is in proportion with the rest of your body, you should be happy, no? However, the Korean side of me longs to have a small face, because let’s face it – I have a rather large head.

And with that in mind, I have one last question: is it possible to be pretty, or even beautiful, with a large face?

130 Responses to “Koreans and the Small Face Phenomenon”

  1. Stephanie Hidalgo:

    Ya small face make attraction so that why i am using face smaller tool that is face thin which is make my face thinner and smaller.

  2. Eugenia Lieu:

    Hello, Korean Ladies. Sure, a small face is attractive, but Black People are very obssessed with me about my coarse-face. I have a broad-face, and pointy-chin. Black People doesn’t feel like being sentimental. They never feel they have the need to have a refined feeling towards themselves.

    • Chuchu:

      What do Black people have to do with Koreans having big heads and flat faces? Nothing!! Keep black people out of this stupid issue of Koreans having insecurity problems with the shapes of their faces, eyes, noses and chins.

    • Beezus:

      Your post doesn’t make any sense. First of all, what do you mean by “coarse face”? You need to shave? You have rough skin?

      Secondly, why would Black people care more or less about your face than anybody else?

      Thirdly, you are using the word “sentimental” incorrectly. I don’t know what you’re trying to say but whatever it is, the sentence you wrote is not conveying it.

  3. “Osu” (I understand)

  4. aboutdevora:

    Is it weird? I think a person who have a small face looks attractive. bcaz it looks pretty when they put on clothes. Koreans consider as the body’s ratio significantly. But I don’t know why happend to be like that.

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  6. farahnaz:

    My face is to big and flat…could you surgery my face.

  7. […] new, and even more obsessive, level. One aspect of beauty that they are hyper-focusing on is the size of your face and head. In their eyes, a smaller head represents youth and beauty. They long for a “taut, cherubic […]

  8. Dave:

    It’s because they want to be white. Koreans are butt ugly. Fat wide Mongolian pancake faces and and big heads. I am Slavic. Thousands of years ago Mongols raided murdered and raped my ancestors because they were white and beautful. They had to annialate them out of envy. I am lucky to be a white subspecies but cannot accept I am 1% Asian. I hate hate hate it. But , thank God it’s not worse or I would just commit suicide using a guillotine. Am not sure how these big headed pancake faces evolved. I would like to know scientifically but race is “taboo” so is very hard to find anything. I say in china something about the emperoresss declaring everyone must breed to look like her dogs which were pugs. But am not sure. Am guessing these inferior ugly characteristists evolved in Mongolia and spread but am not sure. I would like to know if is some kind of environmental thing. Or something related to the earths magnetic field. I don’t know. Asians are hideous! Don’t care if they have nice skin. I will happily accept a face full of pimples over a pancake face anyday.

    The all want to be white but can’t ansd all these Asian women are doing a breeding perspective is destroying white DNA. The babies still look like they have Down syndrome. They are not attractive and are simply killing what they yearn for in a way.

    I just wish that thousands if years ago more raped white women would’ve killed their pancake face spawn so I would not be suspecting I am 1% Asian.

    The other thing is hey are so ugly and inferior but believe they are superior or even a “god” like Elliot Rodger. Makes no sense because they are hideous. The plastic surgery proves it.

    Also Asians have weaker knees, small penises, take longer to mature in infancy, and mongliod ss are born with a sickening purple spot on their lower backs.

    Fucking sick!

    • Nike:

      Europeans are ugly. Europeans have pig noses. Europeans have large mouths. Europeans have fat faces. Europeans are fat. Europeans are obese. That why they have fat faces.Europeans look like monkeys.

      Europeans, Asians, Latinos, and Europeans are ugly. I am European but I think African women are the most beautiful. Europeans are ugly. Asains are ugly. Latiinos are ugly. Europeans are ugly.
      i think Beyonce is the most beautiful in the world. I am European but I prefer African women.

    • Aurora:

      Please don’t say such offensive things. I’m Chinese, and I don’t have a “Fat, wide, pancake face”. So what if I was 12, and maybe I am right now? Would you say this to 12 year olds, or even Asian infants that they look like they have down syndrome? It’s all at the fault of our ancestors that your ancestors were raped and murdered. I wouldn’t do that. My brothers wouldn’t do that, most of my family wouldn’t do that. They’re all different people. I don’t have weak knees, or take longer to mature . I’m a really sturdy 12 year old! I would probably be upset if I were you as well, but you really can’t just assume that all asians are really ugly and hideous. Its like for americans. Some are ugly, some are average, and some are pretty. No one is the same. As far as I know, no one I know has ever had plastic surgery. I would never have it either, since I wouldn’t want to get rid of the face that god, and my parents gave to me. If my ancestors were all gone, then all the kind friends I’ve made in the last 12 years until now, would all be gone. I’d have little to no friends at all, because most of them are asian, which includes indians. I’m antisocial in real life, so I would be very hard to make other friends. Also, what do you mean by the purple spot Asian backs? I don’t really have one. So I don’t really know what it is😐 Also, sorry if I don’t make sense. When I speak my mind, I usually make little to no sense at all.

  9. Dave:

    They list for white DNA but all they are doing is genociding ( geno = gene and cide death) white DNA.

    They go after tall white males especially with that definition aerodynamic look. They secretly hate themselves and think they can cleanse thier DNA or breed out thier pancake faces but it never works the kids looks like they have down syndrome etc. Half white half asian kids are not attractive 99% of the time.

    I used to know a white women, tall, volleyball player, small defined face, who married a Japanese man and pushed out 4 kids and ALL the kids were pancake faces. Not a single one was white. Not one drop of her perfect DNA blonde hair height or small defined face survived to his offspring. The kids look nothing like her. You see she didn’t want to work. She wanted to be taken care of. He wanted kids. That was the deal.

    Felt sorry for her. How does a gourgeous blonde tall pussy with a defined face and curves body get satisfied by a shorter Asian man with a 4-5 inch penis … Why she committed DNA suicide and was totally oblivious about it I’ll never know.

    • Nike:

      Europeans are ugly. Europeans have pig noses. Europeans have large mouths. Europeans have fat faces. Europeans are fat. Europeans are obese. That why they have fat faces.Europeans look like monkeys.

      Europeans, Asians, Latinos, and Europeans are ugly. I am European but I think African women are the most beautiful. Europeans are ugly. Asains are ugly. Latiinos are ugly. Europeans are ugly.
      i think Beyonce is the most beautiful in the world. I am European but I prefer African women.

      • Joel:

        Africans are the ugliest people, actually. Africans have wide and flat noses like apes. They have humongous lips like apes. Let’s not forget that niggers also have humongous and round cheeks/foreheads like apes. Stupid niggers want to be white so badly. This is why so many African-American celebrities marry white celebrities. Tim Duncan is a good example of these nigger monkeys.

  10. Nike:

    Europeans are ugly. Europeans have pig noses. Europeans have large mouths. Europeans have fat faces. Europeans are fat. Europeans are obese. That why they have fat faces.Europeans look like monkeys.

    Europeans, Asians, Latinos, and Europeans are ugly. I am European but I think African women are the most beautiful. Europeans are ugly. Asains are ugly. Latiinos are ugly. Europeans are ugly.
    i think Beyonce is the most beautiful in the world. I am European but I prefer African women.

  11. Nike:

    Europeans are ugly. Europeans have pig noses. Europeans have large mouths. Europeans have fat faces. Europeans are fat. Europeans are obese. That why they have fat faces.Europeans look like monkeys.

    Europeans, Asians, Latinos, and Europeans are ugly. I am European but I think African women are the most beautiful. Europeans are ugly. Asains are ugly. Latiinos are ugly. Europeans are ugly.
    i think Beyonce is the most beautiful in the world. I am European but I prefer African women.

  12. TJ_:

    Dave is an imbecile.Asian women are beautiful.Fact is alot of white females get extremely angry when they see a gorgeous Asian woman (Korean,Chinese,Japanese etc) w/ a white guy these days..Asian women are very appealing to us because Asian women exude extreme femininity.I love how most/many are short,petite,feminine,kind,considerate,most-often loyal,family oriented…dark hair…sweet and supportive.Those are great qualities to have in a girlfriend or a wife.Alot of Asian women have these qualities in spades,so there is a lot to like concerning these lovely gals.

    • FuckStereotypes:

      You just wrote in a bunch of bullshit stereotypes, if you were born asain like me, you’d think different. Get the fuck outta her with that racial bias.

  13. dB:

    Wow, those two guys in the picture look cartoonish. The girl looks normal, she’s proportionate, but her two fans look really freakish with their giant bobble heads. It’s not that their heads are big per se, it’s that they’re too big relative to the rest of their body.
    Of course it’s possible to have a large face and still be pretty, but proportionately speaking, the size of your head should match the rest of your body. So if the girl in the picture is considered to be atypical, then I feel sorry for the rest of the population, because she looks normal to me, so if her “small” head is not normal in korea, then everybody else’s head is too large. And if that’s the case, then I understand the obsession, and I feel very sorry for anyone who looks like those two giant puppets in the photo.
    On the other hand, I also think the whole obsession is sick and I also feel very sorry for those who get their jaws shaved off because it’s a super dangerous procedure with many negative side effects.If Koreans have big heads then they should celebrate it instead of trying to change what nature gave them. And if they do it to look more caucasian then it’s even worse. They’re not fooling anybody. Embrace your own ethnicity.

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