With Great Legs Comes Great Responsibility? G.Na for “Juvis Diet”

(Source: Seoul Focus, May 17 2011, p. 13.)

Call me paranoid, but usually I quickly turn the page when I see newspaper ads like this on my commute. After all, as the only foreigner, I’ll already be the only guy on the subway carriage red-faced and sweating at this time of year. And I don’t want to fulfill stereotypes of oversexed Western males by blatantly staring at singer G.Na‘s legs either.

But, dammit, there’s something wrong with them here. Rather than hearing me harp on about unnecessary photoshopping though, it was with great relief that I found some rare critical Korean commentary on this ad. Or at least, so I thought before I began translating properly…

지나 신이내린 몸매, 포토샵을 거부한 아찔한 비주얼  G.Na’s God-given Body Doesn’t Need Photoshop

활발한 활동을 하고 있는 가수 지나가 하루가 다르게 예뻐지는 모습을 보이고 있습니다. 원조 베이글녀 이제니도 안 부러울 정도의 글래머스한 몸매를 가진 지나는 신세경에 이어 가장 매력적인 여성에 속하기도 한데요. 여기에 타고난 가창력은 더욱더 지나를 빛나게 하는 부분이 아닐까 합니다.

G.Na, a very active singer, is becoming prettier every day. Counted as one of the most attractive women [in Korea?] after Shin Se-kyung, with her glamorous body she has no need to be jealous of original Bagel Girl Jenny Lee. Add the singing ability she was born with too, and she shines all the more.

[James – for what a “Bagel Girl” is, see here. Also, bear in mind that “glamorous” actually means “voluptuous” in Korean. And say “Jeena”, not “Jee-en-ay” like I first did!]

현재는 인기를 끌었던 Black & White 활동을 마치고 자신의 가창력을 그대로 보여줄 수 있는 후속곡 ‘벌써 보고 싶어’로 활동 중인데요. 역시 댄스곡이나 발라드 곡 모두를 다 완벽히 소화해 내는 지나의 모습을 보면 정말 뛰어난 솔로 가스로서 능력을 타고난 가수가 아닐까 생각합니다. 그리고 이런 인기 덕분인지 지나는 프로농구 챔피언결정전 5차전에까지 초청받아 시구하는 등 나날이 달라지는 위상을 실감하고 있습니다.

Having just finished the song Black and White [above], which is gathering a lot of popularity, G.Na is continuing to demonstrate her singing ability with her next song, I Already Miss You. Able to adopt [new] styles like dance and ballad music perfectly, if you see [hear?] her you will have no doubt that she was destined to become a brilliant solo singer. Indeed, because of her popularity she was even invited to make the ceremonial opening pitch at a pro-baseball championship game [below], and her image is soaring.

그런데 이런 지나가 최근에 가장 완벽한 몸매를 드러낸 모습이 있어 화제가 되었죠. 그것도 무보정 몸매로 있는 그대로의 환상적인 모습을 보여줘 감탄사를 연발하게 만들었습니다. 이 사진은 일명 직찍 사진으로 광고촬영 중에 지나의 모습을 그대로 담아 낸 사진인데요. 지나의 완벽한 몸매에 정말 감탄사가 절로 나올 정도로 아찔함을 주는 모습이라고 할 수 있습니다.

By the way, showing her most perfect body has become a bit of an issue, right? So perfect that it needs no corrections, seeing her fantasy-like body makes people exclaim in rapid succession. And indeed in this everyday, unaltered picture of her doing her advertisement photoshoot, we just see her appearance how it is. But her body is so perfect and mesmerizing that she makes people automatically exclaim.

(“Terminator Body” G.Na. Source)

하지만, 이런 지나의 무보정 사진과 과연 정식으로 광고에 사용된 사진이 얼마나 다를까 궁금해지는데요. 최근에 지나의 모습이 공개되었는데 역시나 별반 다를 것 없는 모습에 또 한 번 놀라게 되고 말았습니다. 정말 포토샵을 거부한 몸매라고 받게 할 수 없는데요. 워낙 타고난 몸매 종결자이다 보니 실제로 쓰인 광고 사진과 별반 다를 게 없더군요.

But I was curious as to how much the photos used in the advertisement differed from the untouched ones. And again I was surprised at how they’re not particularly different…surely this can be called a body that rejects photoshop? As she was born with this “terminator” body, the final picture actually used in the advertisement doesn’t really have any differences.

[James – “Terminator”, as in a person, is some new Korean slang. I think by itself it means someone is so good that he or she is the final, “terminating” word on the issue. Update: with thanks to Milton at The Marmot’s Hole, a much better explanation is that “In slang, a 종결자 is some who is the absolute best at something. You can affix it to other words besides 몸매, like 색시종결자 In this case, it means that G.Na has the absolute best body.”]

일단 왼쪽 사진은 포토샵을 하지 않은  지나의 몸매 그대로 모습이고 오른쪽이 최종 사진 보정을 해서 공개된 사진 컷입니다. 보여지는 표정의 각도가 조금은 다른 스타일이지만 무보정 상태의 지나와 보정 상태의 지나가 별반 다를 게 없는 것을 확연히 느낄 수 있는데요. 왜 지나의 몸매가 찬사를 받는지 알 수 있는 부분이 아닐까 합니다.

On the right is a untouched picture of G.Na, on the left is the final one that was released, with photoshop corrections. The angle and her expression are a little different, but otherwise I get a definite feeling that there was little photoshopping done. Now we see why G.Na receives such praise for her body.


그러나 지나는 광고 촬영 외에는 주로 이런 스타일의 옷은 잘 입고 다니질 않죠. 몸매가 뛰어나지만, 사람들이 색안경을 끼고 몸으로만 승부한다는 비난을 하기 때문에 많은 상처를 받았기 때문인데요. 최근에 오락프로나 다른 방송에 나오는 지나의 모습을 보면 상체를 거의 노출한 적이 없을 정도입니다. 그래서 말이지만 지나가 글래머스한 몸매를 가지고 있다고 해서 왜 비난을 하는 일은 그만두었으면 하는데요. 이번 가창력도 어느 정도 인정받은 가수이기 때문에 이제는 실력으로 승부하는 지나의 모습으로 바라봐 주었으면 좋겠다는 생각입니다.

By the way, with the exception of this advertisement photoshoot, G.Na doesn’t really wear these kinds of clothes. Her body is amazing, but she has been hurt by many people having a prejudice about it, thinking that that is all she is good for. Because of this, whenever she appears on comedy shows or other programs, she always wears clothes that cover most of her upper body. So, I wish people would stop criticizing her for having a glamorous body, and think that as her singing abilities have been acknowledged, people should respect her as a singer (end).


Writing ability aside, the author does have a point about the Korean media’s obsession with G.Na’s breasts. Indeed, it strongly reminds me of journalist Amanda Hess’s classic article With Great Cleavage Comes Great Responsibility, in which she argues that ultimately it’s not really busty women’s clothes that people have a problem with. Rather, it’s large breasts themselves that are somehow considered “indecent”.

On the other hand, I beg to differ on the relative lack of photoshopping by Juvis (see here for a close-up of the last image if you’re still not convinced yourself). It speaks volumes about Koreans’ attitudes to photoshop, I’m tempted to say, that someone would consider that to be a sign of an attractive body, rather than simply one that required no photoshopping at all. Fortunately for such (over)generalizations however, actually many Korean netizens agree with me, or at least on G.Na and this particular photoshoot.

Meanwhile, does anybody else recall this ad from Juvis that I wrote about 2 years ago?

To those that still maintain I’m reading too much into things, I now rest my case!

Update: As a commenter on blogger Michael Hurt’s Facebook pointed out, the ad above is actually about:

…a special treatment program to fix bowed legs. The girl who endorses [it] was famous for her bowed legs as much as her pretty face, but seems ok now due to the treament. Many Korean girls are interested in this kind of program thank to the ‘girl group’ phenomenon since few years ago.

Technically speaking then, the ad isn’t advocating excessively skinny legs. On the other hand though, it’s hardly discouraging them either, and Juvis has a strong track record of doing so in other ads too. (Like the one with G.Na.)

42 thoughts on “With Great Legs Comes Great Responsibility? G.Na for “Juvis Diet”

  1. I suppose that as long as you think that not much photoshopping means she kinda looks like a different person, then yeah. Otherwise, definitely no.

    Photos where people’s skin looks suspiciously shiny and smooth are a real turn off for me. It’s like their skin has been replaced by shiny plastic… ok if you like plastic life sized dolls, but otherwise no.


        1. Hmm, vampires or dolls, such lovely choices when they’re supposed to look human.

          With great legs there is still great demand for photoshopping. No matter how “perfect” you look, there is always plenty to “fix” and “improve”!


      1. I’m Korean and I naturally have really pale skin, sometimes whiter than average white caucasians. Many people complimented my skin being so fair. But after living 3 years in Florida, and being in swim/diving team, i have become tanned. I like both white and tanned. White is natural to me, and being tanned means I’m healthy coz i swam so much. Now, I came home and my parents r shocked how tanned i was, and my mother quickly brought me to Korean public bath where u normally get rid of ur dead skins hoping that the tan will go away(im pretty sure thats not how it works). My relatives r all like “OMG what happened to you? U had such a gorgeous skin”. Although media is slowly promoting being tanned as “sexy”, still in Korea being extremely white is popular. Frankly, I do not care which is better, white or tanned, I think people look the best with their original skin color, and being naturally tanned is ok. Too much effort is just… not my thing. I’m concerned with Koreans obsessing with being WHITE. Because even in Korea there r different skin colors, some r whiter like me, some has more yellow tones, or some has darker tones. Media and the whole freakin society is setting the IDEAL beauty. White skin. Same with the eyes. That stupid double eyelid is sick. Sorry, my words r not organized enough :)


    1. I’m also a bit disturbed by the shiny plastic look. It only seems to further commodify women and reduce them to plastic dolls like you said.


  2. Yipes. Photoshoppers really need anatomy classes. I spy two joints out of place in G.Na’s photo, specifically her right knee and left elbow. I also keep debating on whether one leg has been made longer than the other….


  3. Ok, let’s see . . . her skin tone has been adjusted, her legs have been slenderized, some of her joints have been smoothed out (see in particular her right wrist in the second shot), her arms have been slenderized, her breasts have been made larger and she’s been subtly streatched to make her taller and thinner. She’s also had a bit of muscle tone removed . . .
    Ah, yes, it must be nice having only the minimal amount of photoshopping done. Cheers to the perfect body!


    1. Thanks for noticing the stretching (and Rachel also): that’s what first bugged me about the image too, but once I saw how tall she was in real life then I wasn’t really sure any more.

      It’s not very important, but I (and a male friend of mine) wouldn’t say her breasts have been made larger though. More better defined.


      1. Sorry, those breasts have definitely been enhanced a little ~ in the pre-photoshop pics, despite the changes in angle, you can see that they’re just not as big as in the photoshopped version – and in the second, the wrinkle in the unphotoshoppped version has been smoothed out by filling it in with black to match the dress, making it appear larger.


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  5. Looking at the 1st picture, I think she needs bigger shoes. as there isn’t enough space for her toes (see her right shoe). Another thing she, and many Korean women need, is a healthy tan. Just look at the skin tone on her pre-photoshopped legs.

    (Not to say that she’s not attractive, though. She’s a doll!)


    1. Indeed, and Gomushin Girl made the same point to me on Facebook.

      BTW, now that my attention has been drawn to this particular kind of shoe (sandal?), then I’ve begun seeing them everywhere. They’re really popular with my students (albeit better-fitting ones that is).


    2. Wedging the toes together is normal for most high-heeled shoes. It’s just that the toes are visible in this style of shoe. Platform soles with high heels really make a difference in a woman’s appearance. Not only do they make us taller overall, but they raise the waistline, giving an even greater illusion of longer legs. I own a few pairs myself and love the look. I keep the platform at low at 1-2 cm, so the shoe looks normal, not like a hoof, and feels comfortable, too. The platforms this woman is wearing are too high for my taste and comfort.


      1. Yes, wedging the toes is normal, but they shouldn’t be hanging over the edge of the sole, which her toes clearly are in several of the shots.


    3. And let me rant once again about the notion of a “healthy” tan. One reason Asian women look youthful well into middle- ge is that they do not bake themselves in the sun all summer long or use tanning beds to keep that “healthy” glow all year round. Middle-aged former sun worshippers are easy to spot because of the telltale permanent brown spots on their chests, arms, shoulders, and legs. I have some very light spotting on my forearms and hands from natural sun exposure. I quit wearing v-necks in warm weather several years ago to keep my chest skin from freckling. If I wear a strappy camisole and put my hair up with a hairclip, I can pass for a 20-something when viewed from behind because my rarely exposed back skin is dewy and supple-looking, free of sun-induced aging. I’m not a heliophobe. I know the many health benefits of regular sun exposure, including sufficient bioavailable vitamin D. Deliberate overexposure, however, causes both external and internal damage to the skin.


  6. I work with photoshop and other editing software, primarily video related, and I really can’t see why people don’t notice the photo-shopping. I’m not speaking about color correction either.


    1. Well, it’s just a matter of it being so ubitquitous. After seeing hundreds of women who’ve been stretched, shined, thinned and reproportioned, it becomes what you expect when you see pictures of women. I still find it difficult to believe that we then take that image and apply it to women we see walking around the street, but I suppose it could happen.


  7. Well, I just watched the Black and White video by G.Na and it really gives food for thought. I’d vaguely heard of her but not paid much attention. What was REALLY striking to me, though, was that despite the increasing sexualisation of Korean music videos and the fact that this one is going with the flow in the usual sexy/cute image of K-pop, it seems like the makers of the video were doing their best to keep hidden precisely what Western music videos that are trying to be sexy would be highlighting: (excuse me being an XY-chromosomed heterosexual here) her remarkably attractive breasts. It’s a very strong cross-cultural difference: you’ve got plenty of shots of sexy legs and hip movements, etc. as per usual, but the producers seem to be at pains to keep her breasts covered with her hair or her hands or loose clothing or in other ways as much as possible in this video. The term bagelnyeo may be catching on and “glamorous” women have their obvious fans—but look what they do here…..Maybe this was at G.Na’s insistence herself, given some of the internet discussionabouther? Would be interesting to know if this is an instance of an artist, perhaps because she is solo, retaining control and saying what she’ll allow….

    Yes, there are a couple of points where you can tell that she does have what many men (include me) would regard as an extraordinarily enticing bust, but it’s remarkably underplayed, whereas a similarish Western music video would surely have treated G.Na’s breasts as a marketing gift from the heavens and made them a centerpiece. It reminds me of that cartoon you ran a while back on Western vs Korean perceptions of acceptability of short pants/skirts vs showing of cleavage. But this is probably the most remarkable example I’ve seen of the principle in the media recently and says something about the way the Korean industry is still working: the M/V does the usual of making her appropriately K-poppily sexy in the areas that are acceptable, but what would be would be exploited to the max in the West such a star is restrained. So K-pop in 2011 still isn’t just all about being provocative as possible, and I don’t mean this just in contrast to something like Heavy Rotation by AKB48 that people were discussing here recently; it is occurring within a very specific set of constraints vs. both Japan and the West and showing too much cleavage remains a few years away. Even Lee Hyori doesn’t overdo it.

    By the way thanks for that really interesting link to the “with great cleavage comes great responsibility” piece, which gave male me a lot to think about in terms of just how hard it must be for women who happen to have what many (men and women) would find stereotypically impressive (i.e. natural, full) breasts but want to present a serious, non-sexual image to the world to find ways to dress appropriately and attractively but not be seen as also trying to look sexy. I feel like I really learned something valuable in reading through the comments there.


  8. It looks to me like she needs (for conventional arbitrary beauty standards) a good pair of pantyhose, not egregious photoshopping…

    Also, yes, those shoes make me cringe. A lot of women buy shoes that are too small because they’ve internalized some idea that there’s such a thing as a too-large shoe size (?!), regardless of availability.


  9. The difference between the second image and its close up is that the dress is all blacked out in the close up (big photoshop shortcut), whereas part of the folds are left in in the other. Presumably this is because it accentuates her right breast, even though it looks stupid.
    She’s on the same record label as 2NE1. It seems that YG singers tend to stay comparatively covered up.


    1. That’s actually the first thing that hit me – the increased contrast of the digitally-manipulated photo. I seem to recall a study of people’s faces in which, once the contrast was increased on a photo, a face appeared more ‘feminine.’ I’m far too drunk to locate the original source right now… but anyway, it never left my mind. I have no idea at all if the ‘femininity’ extended to upped-contrast *bodies* however.


    2. G.Na isn’t a YG artist. She’s with Ciube Entertainment, along with BEAST and 4Minute.

      By the way, G.Na’s real name is Gina Choi – she’s from Canada – but Wikipedia says her Korean name is Choi Ji-Na (최지나 for Korean-speaking readers). Is Ji-Na a real Korean name or just the transliteration of the transliteration of Gina?


      1. It’s possible that if she was born in Canada that her parents tried to create a name that sounded western and Korean at the same time. I went through the same troubles for my son because of the tradition of having a generation tag of Bin. Me and my wife was debating on Evan, Tobin, Corbin, etc. In the end I just went with what sounded good. Overall, I have met many Koreans who take easy to pronounce names that blends well.


    3. She is not. She is part of Cube Entertainment, home of 4Minute,Beast and a whole slew of other talented artists. I love YG and until recently hadn’t really debuted anyone new since 2ne1.


  10. Waouh! The fact that some people don’t see how much photoshop was used is very stricking!! But what is more striking is not only how much she was photoshopped but also how much money she probably spent on plastic surgery!! What the use of surgery if it s to end up having your pictures changed like that! They should use their money for other things than their body, it wouldn’t hurt the woman’s cause in Korea.


    1. Just a heads up, but G.NA is naturally endowed with a large chest. It plays in to a lot of the reasons why she makes a point to cover up her breasts when she gets the chance–because of the unwanted/unpleasant attention she gets for them. No plastic surgery here.


  11. @shabei: It’s not just the breast I was talking about. If it’s natural (really?) well, good for her, but the face …the magic of the surgeon went there! For the breast, even when it’s not natural, Korean stars hides it much of the time. It is what seen as proper in Korea even when having small breast. I was more shocked by the fakeness of her face. Is it just photoshop for that, I doubt it. And this is what is so sad I think.


  12. This blog has hit a nerve! So, hypothetically speaking, say I have a female friend who is very well endowed, young, babyfaced, S-lined etc, whatever. How is my friend ever going to be respected enough to get a good job in Korea, or even just to wear a tank top on a hot day? My friend is seriously anxious about this. She cannot find any info online about this situation and how to deal with it (so she tells me….) and when she thinks of asking people point-blank, she thinks it sounds really arrogant and doesn’t want woman-hate.


  13. I’m wondering if, as a culture that’s used to seeing women dressed conservatively, Koreans are more comfortable seeing overly photoshopped images precisely because it doesn’t feel like looking at a human. I never noticed it till now, but that seems to be the case for me. My reactions to the two types of images vary significantly; when I look at the ones on the left, I feel a vague sense of appreciation for beauty, and when I see the ones on the right, I am acutely aware of how much bare skin is actually before my eyes. Maybe it’s easier to be ok with objectifying models (women, especially) when you’ve literally turned them into objects!

    Anyway, doesn’t it look like they also did a bit of jawline-trimming in the 2nd photoshopped image?


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