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tv   Asia Insight  PBS  August 17, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT

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a university district in the south korean capital, seoul. south korea is known as a country at the forefront of beauty. ♪ one current trend is for pale skin and bright red lipstick.
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and among those adopting this look are some surprisingly young faces. this girl is also 15. she shows us her makeup bag packed with an extensive range of items. foundations to color cosmetics. the number of south korean children using makeup increases year on year, and they are getting younger. high school students are par for the course, but recently even
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elementary schoolchildren are adopting such habits. this has led to a spread of serious skin problems with more and more children being taken for medical treatment. >> translator: it's impossible to stop children using makeup. >> if this edition of "asia insight," we examine the burgeoning fascination that makeup holds for south korean children. a middle school in seoul. at 3:30, students rush out on their way to after-school programs. a short distance from the gates, this trio of girls stops at a
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vacant lot. what are they up to? lip tints are an item popular with many south korean girls. >> oh ye-jin is 12 years old newly enrolled in middle school. she lives with her family not far from the center of seoul.
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her room is next to the lounge. like most girls her age, she dotes on popular actors and singers. the desk where she does her homework is lined with trustee cosmetics. >> translator: this is my favorite b.b. cream. if i go out in the summer, i use this sunscreen. i use this lipbalm before
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tinting. i usually use a pink tint. i think that's the best match for my lip color. when i wear pink, my friends tell me i look cute. >> for many young girls, lip tints are a gateway into the world of cosmetics. >> translator: if the teachers catch up with these, they take them away. that's happened to me twice. confiscated and thrown in the trash. >> on weekdays, ye-jin only tints her lips, but on weekends, she goes all out. before getting started, she always gets her mother to tie up her hair. ye-jin lives with her parents,
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grandmother, and two older siblings who are currently busy with exams. as the youngest of three, she's a little indulged. she likes listening to music as she does her makeup. first, she puts on b.b. cream. then carefully hides any spots or moles with consuler. ♪ ye-jin first became interested in cosmetics in sixth grade, inspired by her middle school aged cousin's use of full makeup. ♪ her friends became interested around the same time. following trends ye-jin learned by copying those around her. ♪
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and now, every month, around half of her $30 allowance goes on buying cosmetics. ♪ but with less than a year of experience, it's been a daily learning curve to discover what colors and styles of makeup work best for her. recently, she's developed her own ground rules. ♪ >> translator: i'm using a brown eye shadow. i really like this one. and i'm using lip cream and a pink tint. my upper lip is small so it
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doesn't look as cute if i tint it. so i just dab it on my lower lip. it makes all the difference. it gives me a confidence i don't normally have and i feel more alive and energized. i want to be a woman who is happy with her looks and is confidence and attractive.
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>> translator: it started when she said all of the other kids are wearing makeup, i want to as well. to be honest, i don't really like the idea of her using makeup, but at the time, i thought that if she really wanted to do it, why not give it a try? i started wearing makeup when i was about 20, but i didn't enjoy it much. so i only really began using it properly around the age of 25. makeup is as important to my daughter as her phone. studying matters, of course, but i want ye-jin to be a bubbly, happy girl who feels she can say what she thinks and who has her own personality. that's what matters more to me.
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♪ >> makeup use among children is a growing social trend across south korea and is often explored by the media. >> translator: the celebrities make kids want to grow up faster. >> in one survey, 45% of middle and high school students said they used makeup to look good. 27% said to hide skin blemishes. 60% of students said they would even consider cosmetic surgery. professor kim of a women's university is researching the links between contemporary society and the early adoption of makeup. he asked over a thousand middle and high school students in seoul about makeup use and buying habits.
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just over half said they had used makeup before. 52.2%. when asked when they started, about 70% responded, while in middle school. >> translator: makeup has become che cheaper and easier for teenagers to buy and the rise of korean stars means lots of children want to be like their idols. that's two big reasons we see children wearing makeup. >> kim also believes that south korean society plays a role in the ever earlier uptick of cosmetics. >> translator: recently, south korea has seen particular
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emphasis placed on the importance of appearance. with many adults thinking that way, it's very possible it has also affected children. it used to be that makeup was worn by bad students and rebels. not anymore. today, makeup has become a daily necessity. some even say they started using it because they're bullied unless they look good. makeup today is not just used to look pretty. it's a tool to prevent ostrization by your peers. >> ye-jin learns makeup techniques from online videos. the model on screen is hugely popular with young south korean girls. her cute social media posts led to modeling work. girls look up to her makeup and
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lifestyle. >> translator: useful to get ideas for new makeup looks. >> some girls film themselves doing makeup and upload the results. a search for junior high makeup gets around 10,000 hits. ♪ some introduce their favorite products while others show off their technique. ♪ this video has over 1.3 million plays. a big enough audience can lead to sponsorship. there are even videos like this.
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>> on weekends, ye-jin often goes shopping for makeup with her friends. they head straight to a display for one brand popular for cute colors and package design. items in the $4 range are attractively priced for these teens.
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they test the color and finish of the products to find what suits them. this blusher line uses imaginative names for the colors. the tongue in cheek ideas appeal to the group. cosmetics manufacturers can't afford to ignore the teen market. sensing an enormous business opportunity, many target young girls in their product development advertising. some develop goods for tie-ins with popular cashes with many offering loyalty schemes for higher-spending customers.
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while celebrity endorsements are also used in a fierce marketing battle. this new brand specifically targets teenagers. the ceo is a beauty expert who set up the brand in may 2015. available in more than 60 drugstores nationwide, the brand is fronted by an actress popular with young girls. >> translator: when it comes to marketing, the face of your brand is incredibly important. we chose kim sadon to present our brand identity. she's a teenage star. our sales more than doubled after we hired her.
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>> staff survey teen customers in stores. >> to appeal to digital-savvy teens, the brand also advertises
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heavily on social media. it plans to expand into new -- 12-year-old ye-jin and her friend sometimes get together for makeup practice sessions. ♪ her classmate began using product for ye-jin. she happily explains her technique.
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>> each of these friendly sessions can go on for hours. ye-jin's mother comes in to check on them.
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>> translator: looking cute is all well and good, but i worry about her skin. starting on makeup so young means you have to stick with it for the rest of your life, and that really worries me. i don't know which product was responsible, but one time she had a really terrible reaction. it was awful. so bad that i asked my friends about it. they said it was makeup poisoning. but even that wasn't enough to stop her. while she was recuperating, she stuck to spf cream, but within a week, she was back to using full makeup again.
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>> one clinic in seoul had seen an increase in problems caused by early use of makeup. >> translator: we're seeing a rise in teenage patients. it's totally normal to get acne in your early teens, but teenagers today use foundation and powder to hide it. the problem is that only makes the acne worse. that's what brings many younger patients to see us. >> covering spots with cosmetics blocks the skin's pores which leads to this oil inflames the acne wh h which -- >> translator: a reaction to the colorings in tints can lead to inflamed lips. if you use such products for a long time, they can even cause
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distortion of the lip line. i see a lot of these problems with teenagers and people in their early 20s. hardly ever among those in their 30s or older. younger people are more sensitive than adults. >> despite such issues, some young girls are now starting to use makeup while still in elementary school. surveys suggest that around a third of elementary school students in south korea have already tried makeup. an online search for "elementary school makeup" gets 15,000 hits. the spread of mobile phones has made it easier for children to upload videos of themselves, often without the knowledge of their parents.
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this girl is only 7 years old. one video has been watched 1.6 million times. anxious about her looks, this child is trying to improve them through makeup.
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the south korean government has been moved to respond to this situation. in 20 16 the ministry of food ad drug safety produced youth man yols on the correct use of cosmet cosmetics. it made three versions for college, middle and high school and elementary school students. here's the middle and high school edition. it opens with advice on important habits for maintaining healthy skin. such as eating a good balance of fruit and vegetables. carefully removing all mankeup o prevent irritation and keep your skin clean. and how regular sleep helps produce hormones that keep the skin healthy. the guide also reminds readers to check use-by dates and
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ingredients when buying makeup. and it even includes tips on using makeup correctly, warning against irritating the eye area or risking infections by sharing products with friends. it also explains that makeup can be side effects and that readers should be careful of misleading advertisements. professor kim of the women's university helped write the manuals. >> translator: it's impossible to stop children using makeup. so if we can't stop it, what can the government do? we realized that the answer was teach children how to use cosmetics correctly. we wrote these pamphlets, educated teachers and have held
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lectures in elementary and middle schools for several months now. these teach children how to use makeup safely. >> written in simple language, the elementary school manual ends with a poignant statement. ye-jin and her friends head into seoul. these 12 and 13-year-old girls have made a special effort with their makeup today. with asia enthralled to the stars of k-pop and glamorous actresses smiling from every screen, the city is full of things that appeal to these girls' taste. ♪
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♪ >> translator: today's adults didn't use makeup when they were in middle school, but it's very important nowadays. i understand that they're worried, but it would be nice if they listened to how we feel as well. >> it seems clear that for young south korean girls like ye-jin, makeup is part of the new reality of everyday life.
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tokyo. officials here are arranging a meeting of foreign ministers from japan, china and south korea next week with an eye on flash points in the region. foreign ministry officials are planning to hold the meeting in tokyo on tuesday and wednesday. toings of discussion are expected to include north korea's ballistic missile launches. officials say the meeting would lay the groundwork for a trilateral summit they hope to schedule in japan by the end of this year. some government officials say the timing is inappropriate because chinese patrol boats have repeatedly entered japan's territorial waters around the

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