Controversial Fashion Trends in South Korea: A Closer Look at Celebrity Influence and Societal Impact

Recently, many fashion trends in South Korea have sparked controversy, such as underwear exposure and low-rise pants

The K-pop industry is known for pioneering and daring fashion trends. Many idols become fashion icons and lead trends. However, many trends favored by Korean celebrities have sparked controversy, such as the underboob trend, or recently pantsless…

Becoming increasingly daring

The pantsless trend is currently the most talked-about in South Korea. One of the singers leading this provocative yet controversial trend is Yun Jin, a member of the girl group Le Sserafim. The 23-year-old caught attention by wearing only sports underwear combined with a puffer jacket in a teaser video released on January 26th.

The (G)I-DLE group chose a similar style in their MV “Super Lady” released on January 11th. At the Yellow Coin Concert, a charity performance in Paris on January 27th, BlackPink’s Lisa also endorsed this trend.

Yun Jin, Jennie, Han So Hee Nana
Jennie, Sistar19, Han So Hee, Moon Ga Young, and most recently Nana (former member of After School)… are all following this trend.

This trend has particularly sparked discussions in the K-pop scene where the majority of fans are teenagers. The Korean media expresses concern about the possibility of young fans blindly imitating. Some critics even argue that this trend reflects the commercialization of sexuality under the guise of fashion innovation.

The trend of revealing bras also raises concerns about overly revealing fashion. In a teaser for the MV “EASY” by Le Sserafim, Chae Won immediately caught attention with her bold fashion style. The singer paired a bra made of unique accessories with a white crop top, showcasing a slender waist.

Due to the influence of Y2K fashion (a popular style from the late 1990s to the early 2000s), in 2022, the underboob fashion trend emerged. Then, by 2023, low-rise pants revealing the hip bones also became popular in South Korea.

jennie hyuna

Jennie from BlackPink is one of the leading stars in the underboob trend. This trend is understood as a “super crop top” with tops revealing one-third of the lower chest. BlackPink’s member tried this trend during her time in Hawaii in early March 2022. Jennie wore a pink crop top from the Jacquemus Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear Show collection.

Solo artists BIBI, Chae Won, and HyunA have also chosen similar styles.

itzy yuna
Yuna favors the low-rise pants style. Photo: Itzy.all.in.us.

With low-rise pants, this style is favored by many fashion houses and both Korean and international celebrities. This design helps idols showcase a slender waist with long legs. Jennie is once again mentioned. When attending Coachella in 2022, the singer paired low-rise pants with a design from the MARINE SERRE SS22 collection by NOLM to reveal a sexy bare back.

ITZY’s youngest member, Yuna, caused a stir by wearing low-rise pants, revealing an impressive figure with a wasp waist and wide hips in the performance of “U Go Girl” at the 2022 KBS Song Festival. Additionally, bottomless pants (as worn by So Yeon for a photoshoot for Y Magazine), revealing underwear, or short skirts… are also fashion styles that many Korean audiences are not satisfied with.

The downside

Fashion is a form of self-expression for everyone. Anyone can comfortably express their own fashion style. However, it seems that celebrities are leading the trend of promoting revealing clothing. This makes many viewers worried. They believe that overly bold trends can negatively impact teenagers, such as imitating the clothing of celebrities, MoneyS magazine notes.

An official from the National Parents’ Organizations Association told Ilyo: “I am worried because teenagers are very sensitive to images and easily influenced by celebrities. For young children, they idolize and admire singers and actors. Therefore, when idols wear provocative clothing, young fans cannot avoid wanting to imitate them. Even if there are no regulations on such clothing, I hope celebrities choose more appropriate clothing.

moon ga-young

Meanwhile, an expert in the entertainment industry told Ilyo: “Underboob fashion symbolizes freedom. Going without pants can also be seen as a symbol of liberation rather than just exposing the body. However, societal norms still do not encourage excessive exposure of the body.

Jennie BIBI hyuna

In the face of increasingly popular bold fashion trends in South Korea, Lee Eun Hee, a professor at Ewha Womans University, said: “Revealing beauty is good, but the level needs to be controlled. From the perspective of entertainment companies, they feel the need for differentiation to attract attention to their music groups. That is why they pursue unique and provocative concepts. However, it can create ‘side effects’, such as elementary school students imitating provocative fashion. Those called celebrities must take responsibility for their social impact.”

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