Are you someone who is wondering why Korean, as a general rule, don’t have beard? Perhaps you have interacted with Koreans or watched K-dramas and noticed the same thing.
It’s a peculiar thing, isn’t it? In this article, we are going to investigate deeply to find the reasons why Koreans don’t grow beards. We’ll be exploring the scientific, cultural, and historical aspects that have shaped this unique characteristic of the Korean people.
Can Koreans Grow Beard?
The simple answer to this question is, Koreans can grow beards. However, certain ethnicities such as Native Americans and East Asians tend to have less facial hair density than people of Europeans and Middle Eastern men.
The reason for this is due to genetics. According to research, the level of testosterone, which is responsible for beard growth, varies between nations. Koreans tend to have a lower level of testosterone, which results in less beard growth. But it should be noted that there are other reasons behind Korean men prefer not to grow a beard.
A Trip Through Korean History With Beard
From ancient times to the present day, the Korean people have developed their own unique customs and traditions. In ancient times, Korean emperors had long, flowing beards, as depicted in historical paintings.
In Korea, Confucianism was adopted as the official state ideology during the Joseon Dynasty(1392-1910), and it has had a lasting impact on Korean culture, influencing everything from social norms to family structure.
Beard was seen as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge in Confucianism. During the Joseon Dynasty, scholars were often depicted with long, flowing beards like the traditional Chinese beard which were seen as a sign of their intellectual and moral stature.
However, as Western influence began to spread in Korea since world war 2, clean-shaven looks became more popular, and the association between beards and wisdom gradually diminished in the last few decades.
Why Koreans Don’t Grow Beards?
You can notice that a significant number of Korean men do not grow their beards because they prefer to have a cleaner look. It is not because Korean men prefer to be feminine but they have a deeper reason why they prefer not to have beards.
Besides genetics and ethnicity, Korean men don’t grow beard because of factors like mandatory military service, the Influence of K-pop culture, beauty standards, and the social norms of Korea.
Compulsory Military Service
Some Korean noblemen and warriors had a beard in history. As the world was going through significant changes, Korea was not exempt.
With the presence of the US Army since the middle of the 20th century, the Korean army began to adopt the clean-shaven Us military style.
It is mandatory for Korean adults to serve in the Korean Army for a certain time. During the service period, all Korean men are bound to shave their beard. This is one of the primary factors for Korean men not growing beards.
The Influence of K-Pop Band
The rise of K-Pop brought about changes in the perception of beards among the younger generation. K-pop boy band ”Bangtan Boys” which is also known as “Beyond the Scene” or (BTS), is one of the most popular bands around the world.
BTS band has a huge fanbase around the world. Jungkook who performed in the Qatar World Cup 2022 opening ceremony, has 44M followers on Instagram.
All members of BTS have smoothly shaved skin. This trend has contributed to younger Koreans adopting the same style.
The following are influenced by K-pop culture:
- Smooth, clean shaved skin for men
Beauty Standards in Korea
In Korea, beauty standards place a significant emphasis on having clear, smooth skin, and a beard can be seen as detracting from this ideal. Therefore, having a clean-shaven face is considered attractive and desirable.
Some recent interviews with Korean women stated that they prefer clean-shaven men, citing concerns about hygiene and the overall appearance of bearded men. According to Korean women, facial hair can make a man appear unkempt or unclean, which can be a turn-off.
This beauty standard inspires Korean men to not grow a beard.
Social Norms And Attitudes Towards Beards
Having a beard can often carry negative connotations in Korea. Some people associate facial hair with emotional trauma or substance abuse, which can lead to negative judgments of men with beards.
In some workplaces, it’s even compulsory for men to shave every day to maintain a more polished and sophisticated appearance. Even a little bit of stubble can be seen as messy and unprofessional.
The Popularity of Laser Treatment
Laser treatment for hair removal has become increasingly popular in Korea, and this has contributed to the trend of having a clean-shaven face. Laser treatment can permanently remove hair, making it a convenient option for men who want to maintain a clean-shaven look.
Genetics And Ethnicity
The combination of genes and hormones is the reason why East Asians such as Koreans and Japanese have difficulty growing a full beard. Compared to Westerners and Middle East men, Asian men do have lower testosterone.
Testosterone is primarily responsible for the growth of facial hair. A lower dosage of such testosterone could lead to lesser facial hair.
However, there are still exceptions to the rule as each trait varies. Some men have higher testosterone levels and the environment where they live is also a factor.
Do Koreans Shave Every day?
In South Korea, maintaining a well-groomed appearance is highly valued, so men pay close attention to shaving their Asian mustaches and beard. Around 52% of South Korean men shave every day which is a high percentage compared with other nationalities.
Laser treatment to remove facial hair permanently is also popular in Korea so it’s becoming rare day by day to see a Korean man with a full beard.
Korean Celebrities With Beard
Even Korean celebrities prefer a clean-shaven look over bearded ones. Besides their no-beard look, the following Korean celebrities often look great when wearing a beard.
While he is often seen with a clean-shaven face, he has also been known to sport a bit of stubble from time to time. His stubble beard is just another example of how he can make even the simplest look work for him.
Hyun Bin is a South Korean actor who has played a variety of roles throughout his career. He is one of those rare Korean actors who love to experiment with beard style. His short-trimmed beard in “Confidential Assignment” was appreciated by his fans. Hyun has also sported a goatee in 2023.
Lee Jin Wook
Despite not often appearing with facial hair, Lee Jin Wook looks great with a beard. He has been seen with a light beard which complements his sharp features and gives him a more mature and experienced look.
Whether he’s playing a romantic lead or an action hero, Byun Yo-han’s chinstrap beard adds a touch of rugged handsomeness to his on-screen appearances.
Jung Hyuk with a goatee beard- classic and timeless! While we’ve seen him rock a clean shaved smooth look, there’s no denying that he looks equally striking with his goatee beard.
Do Koreans have body hair?
Koreans have less body hair than some other ethnic groups, which can make it appear as if they don’t have any. In general, Koreans have fine and light-colored body hair. While it’s true that Korean culture considers body hair to be dirty, so they prefer to wax or shave it.
Can the lack of facial hair in Koreans be linked to their diet or lifestyle?
No, there is no known link between diet or lifestyle factors and the lack of facial hair in Koreans. Koreans have less facial hair due to their genetics.
Is growing a beard illegal in Korea?
It is not illegal to have a beard in Korea. Individuals are free to make choices in South Korea about their appearance, including whether or not to grow facial hair. But in North Korea, you have to keep your beard and hair short.
So, Koreans can grow a beard but due to their genetics their beard is not thick and Korean culture does not appreciate facial hair. These are the reasons Koreans don’t grow a beard.