As the hot August sun blazes down on the peninsula, people everywhere are seeking ways to protect their skin from harmful UV rays. Here to tell us more about how North Korean women manage their skin health is Special Economic Correspondent Kang Mi Jin.
Women in South Korea take lots of precautions to protect themselves from the sunlight. Because of this, skincare product sales are off the charts. New products are released regularly, including hydrating face packs and cosmetic goods that promise to protect and improve the user’s skin.
A very diverse range of products is available for consumers in South Korea. Nutrient packs promise to restore moisture for rough skin, while others add shine. Customers love face packs that offer protection from the strong summer sun, and some of them are made using ingredients derived from grains and vegetables.
Yes, that’s true. I myself use a product every day during the summer to protect myself from UV rays. But I’m curious as to how North Korean women take care of their skin.
South Koreans don’t just concentrate on their face. They also use skin products all over their bodies. I just learned that there are even packs especially made for hands and feet! They seem to be pretty popular. North Koreans might have a hard time believing that South Koreans go to such lengths to protect the skin all over their body.
Although we’re starting to get reports that North Korean women are investing more time and energy into their skin care routines, it’s hard to find a South Korean face pack for sale in the North. Only cadres and the rich seem to be able to acquire these top-shelf products. Ordinary North Koreans have a different solution. Some use actual vegetables like cucumbers as part of their skincare routines.
“Women are sitting outside all day in the marketplace, so it’s easy for them to get sunburned. During their downtime when they don’t have many customers, some of them use cucumbers to rub on their faces to protect their skin,” an inside source from Chongjin City said.
“Newlywed brides see a lot of South Korean dramas, which show women applying slices of cucumber to their face in order to remove wrinkles and improve skin quality,” the source explained.
It’s interesting that they get ideas from South Korean dramas. The North Korean authorities continue to crack down on the practice of watching them, but it seems like it isn’t preventing people from seeking them out.
Yes, that’s true. Another source from Ryanggang Province said, “You never know who is listening or watching at the markets, so you can’t come out and say it, but it’s common knowledge that the practice of applying milk or cucumbers to one’s face for skincare purposes came from South Korean dramas.”
The source explained that she initially believed that the characters in the South Korean dramas were using cucumbers to treat sunburn. She was surprised to learn that it was actually a skin care treatment to improve the quality of the skin. “I regularly put a cucumber that’s been chilled in cold water on my face on a hot day like today. My husband likes to eat it as a snack to complement drinks, so between the two of us, we really like it. I’ve been buying more cucumbers lately,” she said.
The sources both agreed that South Korean dramas have given them a window to the outside world, and have enabled them to learn about the economic growth and culture of South Korea.
I’m curious how much these cucumbers are selling for.
One kilo of cucumbers is selling for 1,100 KPW in North Hamgyong Province’s Chongjin Market. An inside source reported that, “In the middle of June, one kilo was selling for 3,000 KPW, but that went down to 2,000 KPW in July and now that we are entering the end of the season, the price has dropped again to about 1,000 KPW.”
Cucumbers are selling for a similar price (1,150 KPW) in Ryanggang Province. Another source explained that the planting and cultivation of cucumbers in North Korea has been relatively unaffected by the drought. There was enough rain to support a relatively strong cucumber harvest.
“Some residents are predicting that the price is going to shoot up again once the season ends, so they are buying up large quantities to pickle and preserve,” the source added.