E is for Eye Smile

Before I became enamored with Korean pop culture I never really thought much about the differences in culture between different countries. When I did happen to think about it I would really only consider the big things like religion and government. But after watching countless dramas and reality shows and reading a bit about Korean culture I realize how deep the differences can go. Including what is considered attractive. This brings me to the word of the day, which is Eye Smile.

If you had asked me 6 years ago what an eye smile was I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Now I can tell you an eye smile is when someone smiles and it makes their eyes smaller creating another smile. Like this:

Image    Image

I completely agree that is pretty darn cute. But it isn’t something that we would normally think about here in America. Much less think about it enough to have a specific name for it. But this isn’t the only difference in what is considered attractive.

I have watched quite a few videos of foreigners who live in South Korea, mostly English teachers. One said that a student who was trying to compliment her held up a fist and said “Teacher, your face is like this!” Now I don’t know how it would be in other countries but in America that would almost sound like a threat. Apparently what the kid was trying to say was that her teacher’s face was small, about the size of a fist. In South Korea it is a really good thing to have a small face. Again, not something I ever really thought about before. But people in Korea often make peace signs near their face or hold balled fists on either side of their face when taking pictures in an attempt to make their faces look smaller.


There are many many more differences but I would probably have to write a 10 page paper to explain them all. I think you get the idea. I am sure if I looked into any other country I would find just as many differences.

Have you ever looked into other cultures before? What surprised you?


6 thoughts on “E is for Eye Smile

  1. The “eye smile” is super cute. The small face aesthetic is fascinating. I’m curious about how it came to be so popular. I remember once coming across an article about the wave of Korean women having radical plastic surgery so that they could look more like a Japanese women.

  2. Yes, eye smiles! They are cute. I think Japan and Korea probably have a lot in common, but it’s quite popular for girls over here to have died hair of some kind (black seems to make a woman look somber, so basically everyone has auburn hair now)…. and of course there’s the Edo Period fashion of a horse face being attractive. I think the most popular thing in Japan now, though, is androgyny, for both sexes.

    I know there is a tribe in Africa somewhere that finds fatter women more gorgeous, and another that extends the necks of their young women with metal rings for fashion. In the Ainu culture (a pseudo-Japanese society), women used to scar their upper lip, under the nose, with vertical lines to give themselves “mustaches”, and that was considered attractive…. the world is a very interesting place!

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

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