Within academic literature the concept of K-beauty is under-researched, and even when academic literature discusses K-beauty, there does not seem to be a clear definition for the concept. While seemingly related topics, such as K-pop and K-drama are extensively researched, regarding K-beauty there is a giant gap in academic literature. K-beauty is extremely popular in entertainment and business literature, but even in those articles what K-beauty exactly entails is not explained. K-beauty is not only discussed in literature and the news, but also on social media. On YouTube, several videos can be found that discuss K-beauty. These beauty YouTubers are K-beauty consumers themselves and publish what they perceive as their experience with K-beauty onto the world wide web. This research aims to explore the topic of K-beauty by answering the research question: “How do Korean and American beauty video creators construct and explore the concept of K-beauty?” The research question will be answered by conducting constructivist analysis of nine videos, made by American and South Korean beauty YouTubers. The videos in the sample differed in format, from makeover videos to reviews to discussion about social issues, which helped explore a wide range of perspectives on K-beauty. In the data, three major themes in particular were discussed by the beauty YouTubers, namely, the place of K-beauty in the cosmetics industry as a whole, particular characteristics of K-beauty, and individual handling of K-beauty. The place of K-beauty in the cosmetics industry seems to have changed, according to the way it was discussed by the beauty YouTubers; as K-beauty brands have started exporting overseas (from South Korea), not only South Korean culture has become an influence in K-beauty, but other cultures may affect K-beauty as well. The second major theme that was discussed by the beauty YouTubers was particular characteristics of K-beauty. These characteristics related to the purpose of K-beauty, the appeal of K-beauty (which had three sub-categories: novelty, variety and specialty) and cultural elements. The cultural elements of K-beauty revolved around the influence of South Korea on K-beauty, which was prevalent from the discussions about colorism and whether K-beauty was exclusively for South Koreans. The last major theme discussed the individual handling of K-beauty. While K-beauty may be constructed in a social and cultural context, from the YouTubers discussions it seemed that biology, but more so personal preference shaped an individual’s experience with K-beauty. These aspects of K-beauty, as discussed and constructed by the beauty YouTubers in the sample, may be the basis of future research on K-beauty.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, business, K-beauty, South Korea, cosmetics, YouTube, United States
Thesis Advisor A.M. Hermans
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/2105/50064
Series Media & Business
K. Koene. (2019, June 27). The complex construction of K-beauty A constructivist grounded-theory analysis of South Korean and U.S. beauty YouTube videos. Media & Business. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/50064