Korean Photoshop Disaster #2: Somewhat Less than a Woman (Updated)

Yun In-yeong Yongpyong Peak Island Advertisement Photoshop

Photoshopped advertisements are a pervasive feature of modern life of course, but it’s surprisingly rare to find their originals online (or at least close equivalents). Perhaps that’s all the better to hide advertisers’ mistakes though, as a single glance reveals that Yu In-yeong (유인영) looks much more appealing unaltered than in the advertisement on the left. A “disaster” in the sense that YongPyong Resort’s advertising budget might have been better spent then?

To be fair, the advertisement may have looked more rather better in August the 5th’s MetroSeoul itself: strangely, its website only provides rather garishly-colored versions of what goes in the print editions. And although In-yeong’s elongated neck is what first drew my attention to the advertisement’s photoshopping in the first place, it turns out that its rather long in real life too. But naturally I soon noticed her rather sculpted-looking breasts also, followed by her over-defined face, her thin right arm, and finally the absence of her navel. It took the photo above-right though, for me to realize what had been done to her waist.

Granted, she’s in a slightly different stance in the photo, and her finger resting in her shorts makes a big difference to its greater appeal (people tend to subconsciously point to what’s on their minds, which is why models tend to pose with their hands on their waists {source, right}). But this begs the question of if the photoshopping in the advertisement was really necessary in the first place, as I seriously doubt that many busy commuters would have had either the time or the inclination to have paid much attention to the space between her breasts and her crotch. This may well explain why that area is covered by text in the advertisement then, but in the process of also removing the “kinks” on her side, the advertisers went overboard and removed all definition from her front too, which for all the exaggeration of her breasts, ironically leaves the rest of In-yeong’s body looking somewhat like a cardboard cutout. Contrast this to her more curvaceous figure in the photo, which the unlike the advertisement prompts many second (and third, and fourth…) glances by heterosexual men.

(As a side issue, some time in the near future it will be interesting – and yes certainly, also rather pleasant – to investigate the ways in which swimming resorts and so on are advertised in Korea. As one might expect, the vast majority use women’s bodies to do so, but I vaguely recall that at least one commercial this summer featured buff men and women mutually checking out each other’s bodies, and I’d be grateful if readers could pass on the name of the resort if they know. Regardless though, in hindsight that this should be exceptional is really rather strange given that half of the customers at resorts would be female, and besides which I seriously doubt that they are quite the “meat markets” that they’re portrayed as considering their popularity with children and families)

Unfortunately the logic behind those excessive changes made in the advertisement is likely to remain a mystery, but personally I would perhaps have chosen to move the text up and right a little, killing two birds with one stone (I’m not so naive as to pretend that some people wouldn’t be put off by the kinks). I accept that that may have necessitated big design changes though.

Faith Hill Redbook Cover July 2007 Photoshop( Source: Hany Farid )

In the meantime, for anyone further interested in the subject then I recommend here for more on the photoshopping done on magazine covers, here and here for a guide to the differences between the original image of Faith Hill and the July 2007 cover of Redbook above, and finally here for a potted guide to many famous historical cases of photo manipulation.

Update, September 10: Following up on my plans to research the ways in which swimming resorts are advertised, Commenter Zhi Zhi drew my attention to the following commercial for California Beach, part of GyeongjuWorld. Note the last few seconds especially:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Such commercials are par for the course in Japan of course, but lest that give any overseas-based readers the wrong impression, I should point out that it’s probably the most blatant case of sexual objectification I’ve ever seen in a Korean commercial. One small redeeming factor it has though, is that it also features men literally performing for a female sexual gaze (although of course objectification of men is also problematic), but unfortunately that is not quite the message one gets by visiting California Beach’s website:

Swimming Resort Sexualized Advertisement California Beach

(For more posts in the “Korean Photoshop Disasters” series, see here)


15 thoughts on “Korean Photoshop Disaster #2: Somewhat Less than a Woman (Updated)

  1. You could probably set up a separate blog devoted to Korean Photoshop disasters. The photo on the right of 유인영 is not unaltered. It is less altered than the photo oh the left. In the right image, the straight side of her waist appears to have been slimmed a little. Surprisingly, the bent side was left untouched, including a roll of flesh under the armpits caused by the bend. It’s a pleasant surprise to see the Korean media showcase as beautiful a Korean woman with a lightly padded tummy, hips, and thighs.

    I can see why the Faith Hill photo was altered as the pose and the dress make her look hippier than she really is. Her skin was also lightened and brightened to remove what looks to be mild redness and freckling caused by years of sun exposure. I understand her skin was retouched to perfect an already attractive woman, but by doing so, young women readers get the message that tanning is healthy for naturally pale-skinned women, and it is not. I have middle-aged colleagues and friends who conitinue to tan their weathered, freckled torsos, arms, and legs every summer. Unlike most other countries populated mainly by white people, Britain still sings the praises of a naturally pale “English rose.” Your native country has one of the world’s highest rates of skin cancer, doesn’t it? That ozone hole doesn’t help. American friends of mine who visited NZ were cautioned to cover up, and they did. They told me that whites could burn after 20 minutes of sun exposure.


    1. I suspected the photo on the right may have been to be honest: her bikini strap on her left disappears into her hair a little unnaturally. But I wasn’t sure.

      I probably could set up a separate blog devoted just to this topic, but then how would I legitimately post pictures of women in bikinis here?^^ Seriously though, the series will provide some much needed light relief from longer, more academic posts (although admittedly there’s not as much of those as I’d like these days), and if I did just post those subjects – even though those in particular are usually invariably heavily photoshopped – even I would get bored with them very quickly.

      NZ does indeed have among the highest rates of skin cancer in the world because of the ozone hole, but when I was still there I confess I found government warnings to cover up extremely draconian and alarmist. I mean really: “you will start burning after 12 minutes” in the newspaper and on the radio ad nauseum made people who worked in the sun all day – like I did every summer – increasingly inclined to ignore rather than pay heed to their warnings (but still wearing sunscreen and so on of course). Having said that, in my last summer of working outdoors, I did work for a builder who’d had a friend die of skin cancer, so he made me a little less blase about it from then on.


      1. This afternoon I showed the photo on the right to a couple of my students that are proficient in Photoshop, and they didn’t think that anything had been done to it. Not that they had much to go on of course, but iin hindsight it would have been rather strange to have altered one side of In-yeong but not the other, yes? (although true, photoshopping often not having a logic is the entire point of the post!).

        Still, no big deal either way of course.


  2. What really amazes me is how sometimes photoshopping can be so well done that it’s hard to notice, or at least can look real, like the Faith Hill one, and sometimes can be so bad, like the example here, where in the left photo she looks like she could be a video game character. I also don’t get why the advertising companies don’t seem to realise that nobody is going to look at that photo and think it’s firstly real and secondly appealing.


    1. I hear you, although in YongPyong’s defense we’d be talking about vast differences in budgets and – this being Korea and all – probably time too. I’m a little more curious about the inconsistency though, as the images on YongPyong’s website are fine, which makes me think that perhaps this advertisement was a one-off by a separate advertising agency.


  3. I don’t specifically recall any example of men and woman checking each others’ bodies out in it, but I do recall a particularly blatant example of the use of women in advertising “California Beach” in which (played in the movie theatre) the very end of the advertisement was the model sliding into the camera, her breasts hitting the screen, and the logo for “California Beach” left in their wake. Probably shouldn’t be terribly difficult to find if I got the name right.


    1. Thanks, and you did indeed get the name right: I’ve just added the video to the main post.

      Do you remember the rating of the movie you were going to by any chance? I just wonder if the commercial would have ever made it to television, and if it was indeed deemed too raunchy for that, then perhaps it wouldn’t been allowed in the ads to PG movies at the cinema also?


  4. Did they say say “what the fuck” in that commercial???

    Aren’t there at least enough KATUSAs in the audience to know what that expression means so they would complain to whoever is airing the commerical?


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