A South Korean reporter wore glasses on TV in a dramatic break with the country's insane beauty standards for women

  • A South Korean news anchor challenged her country's beauty norms by appearing on air with glasses.
  • Lim Hyeon-ju used to wear contact lenses and false lashes every day after waking up at 2:40 a.m. for an early morning shift.
  • She made the change after her eyes became too dry and it was tough for her to focus.
  • While male anchors often wear glasses on air, this was the first time a female presenter for a major TV network had done so.


A South Korean news anchor defied her country's stringent beauty norms for women by deciding to ditch her contact lenses and false eyelashes, and wear glasses on air instead.

Lim Hyeon-ju, who typically wakes up at 2:40 a.m. every day for her 6 a.m. broadcast, started appearing last month on the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) morning show with a pair of black-and-gold, round-framed glasses.

Male broadcasters on South Korea often appear on air wearing glasses, but this was the first time a female presenter for a major TV network had done so, according to Korea's Yonhap News agency.

Lim's eyes had become so dry and tired from wearing contact lenses and false lashes every day that she had to use artificial tears to moisten them, the anchor told Yonhap. She added that she found it difficult to work because her eyes were so dry.

She wrote in an Instagram post, which has garnered hundreds of messages of support:

"I have to wake up early in the morning for the morning news, but when I have insufficient sleeping time and short preparation time, I sometimes want to wear glasses. I felt I could focus more on the news if I reduced my time and fatigue. [...]

"Viewers are also focusing on the nature on the news, not the appearance of the anchor."

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매일 진행하던 뉴스에서 단지 안경을 썼을 뿐인데 생각지 못한 관심을 받았습니다. 아마 이 안경 하나가 그동안 각자 안경을 쓰며 겪었던 경험과 불편함을 떠올리게 한게 아닐까 합니다. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 아직 답장하지 못한 메시지가 있는데 얼마전 아나운서 시험을 봤다는 한 지원자의 이야기였습니다. 평소에 안경을 끼지만 카메라테스트에 렌즈를 끼고 갔다가 익숙지않아 프롬프터가 잘 보이지 않았다고. 그런데 이제 무리하게 렌즈를 끼지 않아도 되겠구나 안경을 써도 되지 않을까 용기를 얻었다고요. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 안경과 렌즈를 번갈아 사용하는 분들은 이렇게 알게 모르게 ‘안경=성의부족 혹은 민낯용’ 같은 시선에 불편함을 감수하는 부분이 있었을 겁니다. 특히 직업적으로 보여지는 경우 안경을 끼는데 적어도 이유가 있거나 잘 어울려야만 자신있게 쓸 수 있을 것 같은 분위기가 있죠. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 저도 왜 안경을 꼈냐는 질문을 많이 받았습니다.현실적인 필요에서 시작됐습니다. 아침뉴스를 진행하면 새벽 일찍부터 일어나야 하는데 부족한 수면시간, 부족한 준비시간에 나도 가끔은 안경을 끼고 싶다 생각하게 된거죠. 시간과 피로감을 줄인 만큼 뉴스에 더 집중할 수 있을 것 같았고요. 그런데 누구도 그러지 말라고 한 적 없었음에도 하지 않았던 걸 먼저 하는데는 약간의 용기가 필요했습니다. 혹여 안경 안어울린다는 말이라도 들으면 더 대꾸 못하고 위축될것 같았거든요. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ‘만약 내가 더 시간이 지나 렌즈를 끼기 힘들고 꼭 안경을 써야 할 때가 온다면 어떻게 될까’ 아마 방송을 하는 분들은 한번 쯤 해본 고민이지 않을까 합니다. 그런데 저도 이제 그런 고민 하지 않으려고요. 시청자들도 앵커의 외모가 아닌 뉴스의 본질에 집중해줄거란 믿음을 얻었습니다. 오랜 시간 안경 쓰는 것에 선을 그었던건 ‘어쩌면 내가 가진 막연한 두려움이었구나’ 알게 해주셔서 감사합니다. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 내일도 안경을 쓸 건지 질문을 받을 때 되레 안경을 안 쓰면 서운해 하실 것 같다 웃었는데요. 안경을 쓰든 쓰지 않든 그것이 더이상 특별하게 시선을 끌거나 낯설게 느껴지지 않게 되길 바라봅니다. 중요한 건 그게 아니니까요. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #닥터슬럼프아리 #별명은덤

A post shared by 임현주 (@anna_hyunju) on

Lim added that she "needed a little courage" to wear glasses on air at first, but has since become encouraged by her thousands of messages of support that she would continue to do so. She has regularly worn glasses in her broadcasts ever since.

South Korean women are held to notoriously high standards for beauty — the country has the most cosmetic surgeries per capita in the world, with almost one million procedures every year.

Not wearing a full face of makeup to work — regardless of the industry — can also be deemed unprofessional in certain South Korean offices, Quartz reported.

A recent poll also found that more than half of 552 South Korean workers polled said they had never seen a female coworker in glasses before — even though 70% of South Korea's population under 30 are reported to be near-sighted, Quartz noted.

Furthermore, because South Korean job postings typically require photographs, as well as asking for applicants' height and weight, many applicants have said they felt pressured to appear attractive.

A 2016 survey by a national job portal found that more than 60% of human resources personnel found that an applicant's appearance affected his or her chances at getting the job.

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A plastic surgeon performs an operation on a patient who wants to have double eyelids in BK Clinic in Seoul August 28, 2007. South Korea is becoming known as the plastic surgery capital of Asia, where celebrities get "done" to attract legions of fans across the region. Picture taken August 28, 2007. To match CHINA-KOREA/SURGERY REUTERS/Han Jae-Ho (SOUTH KOREA)
A patient lies on an operating table after she underwent plastic surgery to have double eyelids in BK Clinic in Seoul August 28, 2007. South Korea is becoming known as the plastic surgery capital of Asia, where celebrities get "done" to attract legions of fans across the region. Picture taken August 28, 2007. To match CHINA-KOREA/SURGERY REUTERS/Han Jae-Ho (SOUTH KOREA)
A plastic surgeon operates on a patient who wants to have double eyelids in BK Clinic in Seoul August 28, 2007. South Korea is becoming known as the plastic surgery capital of Asia, where celebrities get "done" to attract legions of fans across the region. Picture taken August 28, 2007. To match CHINA-KOREA/SURGERY REUTERS/Han Jae-Ho (SOUTH KOREA)
Korean plastic surgeon Kim Byung-gun (not pictured) demonstrates the so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, for a patient during a consulting session in his clinic in Shanghai September 16, 2007. Kim, who runs South Korea's largest plastic surgery hospital BK Clinic and is one of the country's most successful surgeons, envisaged a bonanza in China after noting that 40 Chinese women a month were flying to his Seoul clinic for cosmetic surgery. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
Korean plastic surgeon Kim Byung-gun operates on a patient for the so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, in his clinic in Shanghai September 16, 2007. Kim, who runs South Korea's largest plastic surgery hospital BK Clinic and is one of the country's most successful surgeons, envisaged a bonanza in China after noting that 40 Chinese women a month were flying to his Seoul clinic for cosmetic surgery. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. "double eyelid surgery" is the most popular cosmetic surgery in China. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
A patient lies down before a nose lifting and a so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, at Korean plastic surgeon Kim Byung-gun's (not seen) clinic in Shanghai September 16, 2007. Kim, who runs South Korea's largest plastic surgery hospital BK Clinic and is one of the country's most successful surgeons, envisaged a bonanza in China after noting that 40 Chinese women a month were flying to his Seoul clinic for cosmetic surgery. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. "double eyelid surgery" is the most popular cosmetic surgery in China. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
Korean plastic surgeon Kim Byung-gun operates on a Chinese patient for the so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, in his clinic in Shanghai September 16, 2007. Kim, who runs South Korea's largest plastic surgery hospital BK Clinic and is one of the country's most successful surgeons, envisaged a bonanza in China after noting that 40 Chinese women a month were flying to his Seoul clinic for cosmetic surgery. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. The "double eyelid surgery" is the most popular cosmetic surgery in China. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
Korean plastic surgeon Kim Byung-gun explains the so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, for Zhang Ding Ling during a consulting session in his clinic in Shanghai November 4, 2007. Zhang received the procedure as a present from her parents for her 23rd birthday. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. Double eyelid surgery is the most popular cosmetic procedure in China. Picture taken November 4, 2007. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
A combo picture shows Zhang Ding Ling, 23, before (top, November 4, 2007) and after (December 5, 2007) her so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger. Zhang received the procedure as a present from her parents for her 23rd birthday. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. Double eyelid surgery is the most popular cosmetic surgery in China. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
Korean plastic surgeon Kim Byung-gun explains the so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, for Zhang Ding Ling during a consulting session in his clinic in Shanghai November 4, 2007. Zhang received the procedure as a present from her parents for her 23rd birthday. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. Double eyelid surgery is the most popular cosmetic procedure in China. Picture taken November 4, 2007. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
Korean plastic surgeon Kim Byung-gun draws the lines to be cut for the so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, for Zhang Ding Ling, during a consulting session in his clinic in Shanghai November 4, 2007. Zhang received the procedure as a present from her parents for her 23rd birthday. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. Double eyelid surgery is the most popular cosmetic procedure in China. Picture taken November 4, 2007. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
A patient waits for her so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, to begin in a plastic surgery clinic in Shanghai November 4, 2007. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. Double eyelid surgery is the most popular cosmetic procedure in China. Picture taken November 4, 2007. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
Zhang Ding Ling, 23, seen as she goes through the so-called "double eyelid surgery", which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, in a plastic surgery clinic in Shanghai November 4, 2007. Zhang received the procedure as a present from her parents for her 23rd birthday. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. Double eyelid surgery is the most popular cosmetic procedure in China. Picture taken November 4, 2007. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
A patient rests in a recovery room after double eyelid surgery, which adds a crease to the eyelids to make the eyes appear larger, in a plastic surgery clinic in Shanghai November 4, 2007. Chinese government officials estimate that $2.4 billion was spent last year on plastic surgery procedures, with 1 million operations taking place. Double eyelid surgery is the most popular cosmetic procedure in China. Picture taken November 4, 2007. REUTERS/Nir Elias (CHINA)
A South Korean plastic surgeon (R) operates on a Chinese woman who wants to have double eyelids in BK Dongyang Plastic Surgery Clinic in Seoul March 23, 2009. South Korea's plunge towards recession is bringing in high-spending tourists by the planeload in search of bargains and beauty. Picture taken March 23, 2009. To match feature FINANCIAL-KOREA/WON REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA SOCIETY POLITICS)
A South Korean plastic surgeon operates on a Chinese woman who wants to have double eyelids, at BK Dongyang Plastic Surgery Clinic in Seoul March 23, 2009. South Korea's plunge towards recession is bringing in high-spending tourists by the planeload in search of bargains and beauty. Picture taken March 23, 2009. To match feature FINANCIAL-KOREA/WON REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA SOCIETY POLITICS HEALTH)
A South Korean plastic surgeon operates on a Chinese woman who wants to have double eyelids in BK Dongyang Plastic Surgery Clinic in Seoul March 23, 2009. South Korea's plunge towards recession is bringing in high-spending tourists by the planeload in search of bargains and beauty. Picture taken March 23, 2009. To match feature FINANCIAL-KOREA/WON REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA SOCIETY POLITICS)
A South Korean plastic surgeon operates on a Chinese woman who wants to have double eyelids in BK Dongyang Plastic Surgery Clinic in Seoul March 23, 2009. South Korea's plunge towards recession is bringing in high-spending tourists by the planeload in search of bargains and beauty. Picture taken March 23, 2009. To match feature FINANCIAL-KOREA/WON REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA SOCIETY POLITICS)
A woman undergoes a double eyelid surgery at a hospital in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province August 26, 2011. The double eyelid surgery, a kind of cosmetic surgery which aims to add a crease to the eyelids, can make the eyes appear larger. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
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One in three South Korean women between 19 and 29 have already undergone cosmetic surgery, Gallup Korea found in 2015.

The most popular procedure is the "double-eyelid" surgery, which creates creases in the eyelids that result in the appearance of bigger eyes. Another popular one is the "smile surgery," which makes the person look like they have a slightly upturned mouth at all times.

NOW WATCH: Teens would rather break their bones than lose their phones

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SEE ALSO: Why South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world

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