A 14 year old Hong Kong singer says she was told she would need plastic surgery to make it in the industry by organisers of reality show K-Pop Star Hunt.
In an interview with the SCMP, Australian-born Sri Lankan Shimali De Silva says she and her fellow semi-finalists were forced into an individual consultation with a plastic surgeon.
“We weren’t told what we were doing, but we quickly caught on, flicking through the catalogues of eyes, noses and boobs.
“The doctor brought out this terrible mugshot and said to me, ‘You’re 14, but you look 30’. He pointed out the curvature of my forehead, the ratio of my nose to my chin, all this stuff that I hadn’t even thought about.
“I was trying not to be affected by it, but as a 14-year-old, people tell you that the way you look is important if you want to break into this industry; that sunk in and I started tearing up.
“I told the doctor I appreciated his comments but that I was opposed to the idea of changing your appearance as a prerequisite to success in your career.”
Shimali’s mother, who flew out to Seoul to comfort her daughter on learning the news, told the newspaper that the surgeon said “she was too dark and her nose was not proper”.
A spokesperson for Channel M said the consultation with the plastic surgeon was “part of the programme for the contestants to understand K-pop culture“, and no contestants were required to have plastic surgery (though Shimali says several of them did).
South Korea has the highest proportion of citizens who have undergone plastic surgery of any country in the world.