Posts Tagged ‘Korea’

The Korean beauty secrets are out

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Beauty products containing snake venom, distributed by Dodo Japan, on display at Cosme Tokyo 2012 (Mio Yamada photo)

In the West, Japanese cosmetics have developed quite a devout following, so it might come as a surprise that in Japan, women are actually becoming more interested in South Korean beauty products and treatments.

At Japan’s first-ever Cosme Tokyo fair, South Korean companies made a strong showing, taking the top slot among the non-Japanese exhibitors. In addition to shiny eyeliners, sparkling eye shadows, bright blushers and other makeup items, they presented crowd-drawing snail-slime moisturizers and synthetic snake-venom face packs.

Like K-Pop and Korean TV dramas, the popularity of Korean cosmetics has been undeniable for the past few years. And as South Korea has become a popular tourist destination, Korean cosmetic companies have begun to realize that Japanese tourists were perhaps some of their best customers. While it’s not all going to Japan, one thing is certain: Korea’s cosmetic exports climbed $600 million in 2010, up from $80 million in 2001.

Exotic ingredients aside, there’s not a lot to distinguish many of the Korean goods from Japanese cosmetics.  So what is it that gets consumer attention? While we can’t discount the lure of bright colors and cute motifs on the packaging, the most attractive draw is most likely the use of natural ingredients or the focus on natural derivatives for products. They’re also often far cheaper than their Japanese counterparts.

Skin Food, which opened its first store in Harajuku in 2009, for example, bases all its products on food extracts, using fruit, vegetable, grains and snail (well, yes, snails can be viewed as food). Missha, which is famous for its Missha BB “blemish balm” cream, uses snail and mixes it with natural plant extracts, as does Etude House, a popular line of products aimed at a younger generation — both brands opened their first stores in Shinjuku in March this year.

“Made in Korea” has become a selling point, and not only have prominent Korean brands opened up shop in Tokyo, but more Korean cosmetics in general have started appearing on the shelves of the city’s major drug stores (see DoDo Japan’s line of makeup).  A couple of new Korean-goods-specific stores have also opened in the city. In March, Chongane & Skin Garden in Shin-Okubo opened its doors to offer Korean foods, accessories and cosmetics, while  Skin holic, which opened last month, stocks a wide range of Korean cosmetics, including some of those already mentioned here.

2011 trends: Korean boom spreads to a new generation

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

The news that Korean girl group Kara will be performing on “Kohaku Uta Gassen,” a widely watched New Year’s TV show that features Japan’s top artists, is further proof that the Korean boom is here to stay. As K-pop continues to dominate the charts, it’s now an irrefutable fact that the craze for all things Korean has crossed over to the younger generation and officially become cool.

Ginza K Place, opened in September this year features handsome young Korean artists

Though an older generation of Japanese women have been swooning over handsome Korean actors for years, now the younger generation is hooked on the upfront sexiness of acts like Girls’ Generation and Kara. Along with getting into the music, many fans have developed a curiosity about all things Korean, which has lead to growing numbers of young Japanese hitting the streets of Shin-Okubo, Tokyo’s Korea town.

Aside from the spicy cuisine, one of the biggest draws in Shin-Okubo is K-pop music hall Seichi, which opened in April this year. Performances by young Korean musicians are held three times a day and groups of fans can be seen waiting outside for performances on the streets. Also opening in April this year was the K Theatre, located in the slightly more upmarket Ebisu area. Further uptown a third venue opened in September. Rather more pricey, Ginza K Place caters to the older diehard fans who come to swoon over attractive male Korean singers.

But don’t let this lead you to believe all Japanese are enamored with Korean entertainment. This year Japan witnessed a rather ugly backlash against the trend for airing Korean dramas on Japanese TV. Five-hundred protesters gathered outside of Fuji TV headquarters to protest against the channel’s programming policy. The protest was sparked off by a tweet from disgruntled actor Sousuke Takaoka. Takaoka wrote: “I’ll never watch Channel 8 (Fuji TV) again. I often think it’s Korean TV. Japanese people want traditional Japanese programs.” Predictably, the nationalist far right rallied around his whine and mobilized the 2chan forces.

The summer’s skirmish aside, the Korean phenomena is likely to continue apace in 2012. Nikkei Women is predicting that Japanese women will be embracing the latest Korean cosmetic trend: a beauty cream called Prestige cream d’escargot made from snail entrails that is all the rage in Seoul.

Entrepreneurs make Korean ikemen the dish du jour

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Handsome young Korean men seem to the dish du jour for many Japanese women, and eateries offering just that appear to be popping up all over the place, according to Nikkei Women Online. As the hanryu (Korean pop culture boom) continues apace, many ladies want to get an actual taste of spicy Korean delights  . . . and they’d also like to sample the food too!

The latest such establishment is Ginza K-Place, a restaurant that opened in September and doubles as a live venue on weekends. The lunch course costs a rather pricey ¥8,000, but diners also get extra eye candy thrown in, in the form of handsome Korean artists. A journalist from Nikkei Women Online who caught a performance by Korean star Pianoman LEN was extremely moved by the floor show. “He’s very manly, and before I knew it, I had become entranced,” the journalist gushed. After the show, she writes, it’s even possible to shake hands with the artist and have your photo taken with him! “There were stars in all of the customers’ eyes. Regardless of their age they were transformed into a bunch of young girls in love.”

Continue reading about capitalizing on the Korean boom →

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