This ad is advertising a plastic surgery company in Seoul. The text in Korean roughly translates to “Selfie-taking style” and “Nobody-knows-but-me style”. The picture on the left, labeled “before” is a cell phone’s photo album with 24 photos of normal, everyday life. There are photos of cats, dogs, food, oceans, lattes, and even a meme. They represent normal enjoyable moments that an average person would photograph with their phone. There are no photos of people. The photo on the right, labeled “after” is the camera roll of the same phone, seen as after plastic surgery. There are now 432 photos and they are all selfies of a Korean woman, implied to be the owner of the phone. The name of the company, “The Plastic Surgery” is also written below.
Plastic surgery advertisements like this are quite common in Korea and often promise results of “self-confidence” and “happiness”. This advertisement is no exception. The message is, of course, that if you get plastic surgery, you will gain self-confidence and finally feel comfortable enough with your body to take selfies. The drastic increase in the number of photos, from 24 to 432, also implies greater happiness worth taking more photos of.
These ads pose multiple problems. First of all, these ads are exclusively targeted at young Korean females as the only people who need “fixing”. If a male is ever featured in the ads, it is only in the role of “the doctor who can fix you and make you pretty”. Secondly, the ads are promoting the idea that you cannot be happy with what you have and that you must change yourself to fit society’s mould. It is this reinforcement of materialistic values and its effects that I will be addressing in my culture jam.
I have switched the phones and the text for the second photo. I’ve added the text “What makes you happy?” as a prompt for thought. The Korean text about selfies and nobody else knowing have been replaced simply with the word “happiness”. The name of the company, The “Plastic Surgery”, has been changed to “Ain’t nothing like the Real Thing”. These are to get the target audience to think about what really makes them happy.
I’ve also taken a “grass is always greener on the other side” approach. Before plastic surgery, the answer to the question “what makes you happy” is “being pretty enough to take 432 selfies”. This belief is a result of the constant materialism and advertisements bombarding young people and convincing them that they need to change their appearance to attain happiness.
The after photo is now the photo of normal life, identical to the “normal” camera roll in the first photo. This is to say that after all that plastic surgery and work done, the result will not be true happiness; material gain will only give a temporary sense of happiness. Accordingly, the album filled with selfies shows that the user is consistently dying her hair and changing her appearance even after the surgery. This is a sign that the plastic surgery and conforming to society’s expectations hasn’t brought her true happiness. True happiness will be from connecting to the world around you. In both the original photo and the edited version, the top left corner of each cell phone shows the signal connection strength. It is one block stronger in the phone without selfies. I believe this shows a stronger connection to your surroundings and the world without materialism is essential to happiness.