14 Korean celebrities made the 100 Most Beautiful list but here’s why it doesn’t matter
Once again, the TC Candler annual list of the world’s most beautiful faces has been released. Once again, it features several Korean celebrities. Once again, it is pointless.
If you happen to be curious about who made the rankings, here they are in descending order:
#99 Goo Hara (KARA)
#78 Jooyeon (After School)
#76 Yoona (Girls’ Generation)
#64 Sooyoung (Girls’ Generation)
#59 Jun Ji-hyun
#56 Woori (Rainbow)
#53 Minah (Girl’s Day)
#35 Jessica Jung
#27 Song Hye-kyo
#23 Taeyeon (Girls’ Generation)
#17 Go Ara
#11 Suzy (Miss A)
#1 Nana (After School/Orange Caramel)
Not that any of this matters.
A reason for this, the obvious one that everyone brings up, is that ranking the most beautiful faces in the world is a ridiculously subjective pursuit that will never satisfy more than a small minority of the audience. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, as they say, and no one has ever managed to successfully prove that Mr TC Candler and his friends’ beholdings are more authoritative than those of anyone else. It’s also difficult to explain how faces that are supposedly the most beautiful in the world can move up and down a list so rapidly within the space of a year.
There are other glaring incongruities as well. 14% of the top 100 is Korean this year but only 3% were Indian and a similar number were Chinese. India has a population that is over twenty times larger than South Korea. That a country with about 0.7% of the world’s population has twenty times the number of its most beautiful faces is difficult to believe. This applies also to countries like the UK, Canada and the US which all had a disproportionate number of entrants.
But most of us know all of this.
The real reason this is so ridiculous actually has nothing to do with how silly an idea the list is or whether or not Nana or anyone else deserves their spot on the list. The real reason it has no meaning is because of how blatantly self-serving it is for TC Candler to put Nana and nearly half of Girls’ Generation (including its controversial now ex-member, Jessica Jung) on the list.
Who is TC Candler anyway? According to his website he is “a film critic and professional poker player” who has been involved in a number of not particularly successful film websites and magazines over the year. He has 3,108 likes on Facebook and 517 followers on Twitter at time of writing. To put this in perspective, Beyond Hallyu currently has 3,353 followers on Twitter. We have no plans to write a definitive 100 best of anything list anytime soon.
The person who benefits most from this list is TC Candler. And for him, as a relatively unknown film reviewer writing a relatively non-remarkable list, his principle aim seems to be to get as many clicks and views as possible.
Most western media outlets and their audiences don’t really care that much about it. These lists are pretty dime a dozen and this one’s source is far less authoritative than, say, FHM or GQ’s annual sexiest women lists. But for K-pop fans, eager to jump on anything that proves Korean entertainment is relevant outside of North and South East Asia, any list that pits Korean stars against western stars with the Korean stars winning is absolutely irresistible.
If you look at the comments on the video, about ninety percent of them are about Korean idols and actresses – mostly Nana or Girls’ Generation. Likewise if you search “Most Beautiful Faces of 2014” on Twitter, you will get back pictures of Girls’ Generation members.
But this is not that new. The first year a Korean idol charted in the top ten and multiple idols were included, 2012, had four times as many views as the previous year. In the two years since, Korean stars seem to be getting more and higher up the list. So forgive me for being a little cynical.
Let’s also not forget the amount of Korean media attention Nana received as a result of coming in second last year and beating out Song Hye-kyo in the process. It most likely resulted in more mentions of the list in news articles in Korea than in any other country in the world. Frankly, the only way to top that attention is to put Nana at number one this year.
TC Candler keeps making vague comments on YouTube about how the list is put together with the help of recommendations and votes from the audience but has no form of formal voting or recommendation system in place. This uncertainty definitely seems to have encouraged K-pop and K-drama fans to spam anywhere and everywhere about the list and their favourite celebrity while helping the list become more popular in the process.
Don’t think this isn’t deliberate. Since the list was posted, the TC Candler page has made one post on Facebook tagging Nana and Girls’ Generation fanpages and another sharing an allkpop article about the list as proof that “[t]he news is starting to break all around the world…”. Whoever makes this list is definitely aware of the pulling power of K-pop.
The fact is this list is only relevant because K-pop fans keep making it relevant. Without them, it would most likely just be another meaningless list from a not particularly relevant source.
K-pop fans have a lot of online pulling power that very few fandoms can compete with. Its vastness and endurance is enough to invoke fear. But this can be and is exploited both by K-pop specific outlets and wider online media. A lot of people have figured out that including K-pop in something is an easy way to get lots of views. If you make something about K-pop, you have a guaranteed audience of devoted K-pop fans. Even better make it a list of recommendations and then fandom wars will start in the comments with everyone inviting their friends to fight it out simultaneously bringing numerous extra page views.
In many ways, this is a sign of how far the international K-pop fandom has come. Lots of international media outlets now know the power of the fans. But they also know how easy it is to take advantage of and what pushes fans’ buttons. This level of devotion, even obsession, can easily be turned into clicks and then cash.
From this video, TC Candler gets exposure, page views and possibly a not insignificant amount of income. And K-pop fans? K-pop fans get little more than the chance to make all of us interested in K-pop look a little unhinged. Once again.