Korean Women are Going Braless, and Maybe You Should Too

Apr 28, 2020 | CULTURE, Korea, MJ Toledo

Korea ©Vine Alexandre

Going Braless has become a movement all over the world, and Kpop stars are leading the pack even if it causes an uproar. Does this movement really deserve to be the subject of controversies? Does this affect society’s perception of a woman? 

Despite boasting modernized resources, South Korea is still a largely patriarchal country. This is manifested by “Molka” or spycam issues where women are secretly filmed in motel rooms, among other feminist struggles. However, the story is about to turn around in the hands of Korean women themselves. 

In 2018, Korean women let their voices be heard as they protested unjust beauty standards by destroying their makeup, and not going under plastic surgery under the “Escape the Corset” movement. Today, a new crusade has sparked discussion all over the country – women going braless. 

Two KPop royalties, Sulli from f(x), and Hwasa from Mamamoo have been on the harsh end of public comments after they started posting photos of themselves braless. This became such a huge deal that some of their was even censored due to indecency, despite its unsexual nature.

When asked about going braless in the Night of Hate Comments variety show, Sulli stated, “Going braless is one’s freedom,” adding that “Bras have wires; they are not good for health. Not wearing one is comfortable. That is something beautiful and natural. For me, a bra is like an accessory. Some outfits go with it, and others do not. That’s why I sometimes do not wear a bra.” Sulli took her life in October due to severe depression from cyberbullying. 

Another Kpop idol Hwasa has also been spotted in an airport without the undergarment. According to Netizens, this was her response to the “No Bra Day” commemoration to raise awareness on breast cancer. 

News presenter Lim Hyun-Ju also ignited a debate when she appeared braless on an MBC documentary program entitled “Series M,” which centered on her participation for “No Bra Day.” 

“Sharing my thoughts and experiences through the challenge was pretty meaningful for me, considering the character of my job as a news presenter,” she said despite the hate comments on her Instagram, adding that she did not jump to a conclusion whether going braless is good or bad. It was a part of her experiment examining whether women should wear bras or not. 

“Don’t you think this has been a taboo that people don’t want to discuss?” she further said.

Is Korea Ready?

While the public seems unfazed by photos of socialites and international models going braless, the female nipples are clearly still a taboo for many in Korea. However, the small but growing number of feminists in Korea are set to change this narrative in the name of gender equality. 

Whether it’s throwing away expensive makeup, rejecting marriage, or going braless, the feminism movement has gained traction in the conservative Asian nation, which ranked high on the World Economic Forum 2020 Global Gender Gap Index and is the world’s highest number of plastic surgeries per capita. 

While people are used to women and KPop stars wearing bold outfits, the unique reaction of going braless has been the subject of hundreds of headlines. The #NoBra hashtag is steadily growing in South Korea, and without question, the celebrities on its forefront are becoming symbols of the movement.

Will The Movement Push Through?

According to philosopher Yun-Kim Ji-young, the braless movement is a women’s way to spark resistance against the constraints placed by society upon them. 

However, it’s not just an unfounded statement. Many women are forced to bear the pain of wearing bras. Kim Myo-Ri, 27, even stated that she has chronic shoulder pain from wearing bras for 17 years and she has been medically diagnosed for it. 

With more women wondering why the freedom given by going braless should only be felt at home, there is an expected increase of individuals who will rally against male voyeurism in the coming years.