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  • [K-12] NJHS Women's Health Access Dress Down Day on May 29th.
  • SKAC HS Soccer 7's @ISB on May 23rd.
  • SKAC MS Basketball Finals @ISB/BFS on May 22nd.
  • KISAC MS Girls Basketball Tournament @DIS on May 17th-18th.
  • KISAC MS Boys Basketball Tournament @KISJ on May 16th-18th.
  • Don't forget your spirit shirts on Friday.
The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

Popular skin tone test leads to colorism

Problems arise in Korea due to trendy fashion and make-up analysis
The craze over pale skin has moved itself to the realm of personal colors –now, many vie for cool-toned skin. (Sunny Oh)

Personal color dominates the beauty industry in Korea. Over the years, the concept developed based on pre-existent postulates such as Michael Eugène Chevreul’s contrast effect. Though no scientific evidence supports the research, Koreans use personal color as the basis of judgments on fashion and cosmetic products under a color sorting system called the PCCS. 

“Get it Beauty,” a Korean TV program aired in 2011, first introduced the system to the public. However, it never gained traction until 2019 when it evolved to eat up the whole fashion scene. The groundwork of the trend relies on the idea of cool and warm tones, and it divides individuals into four different seasonal subtypes of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

This illustration portrays the different categories. Photo courtesy of Illustac.

 Warm tones refer to yellow tints that give off sunny vibes, while chic-vibed cool tones portray pink or blue. Warm tones have subcategories of spring and autumn, which differ in brightness and shade. Lighter colors compose spring, while autumn has a dark and earthy palette. Cool tones have the sub-categories of summer and winter. Delicate bluish colors fill summer, while winter has a darker and more prominent tinge to them. If you go deeper into this topic, there are even more subtypes within these classifications, but the trend mainly covers up to here.

Various companies make niche products for certain toned individuals for marketing purposes. Photo courtesy of Newsis.

Many critics dismiss this concept due to the lack of scientific evidence. Even experts advise people not to obsess over personal color when it comes to fashion and makeup, because it limits individuals’ freedom to express themselves and try out new products. The palettes mean to provide advice, not regulations. In fact, a person may receive different results based on where they got tested. Various influences can affect them – the lighting of the room, perspective, and much more. 

Apps such as Jamface allow people to test their personal color by themselves and recommend products based on their results. Photo courtesy of Jamface.

According to those who firmly believe in the results, however, the analysis often leads to an improved fashion sense and make-up, or at least, guides people in the correct direction. Korean speed skating athlete Kwak-yoon-gy, for instance, appeared extremely different based on his hair color and the hue of the background. People voiced out that he looks more natural with a bright pink background compared to neon and yellow, which emphasizes the impact palette brings. 

Some cases actually show the difference a simple palette can make. Photo courtesy of Wikitree.

The problem arises, however, when the difference in skin tones creates controversies concerning colorism. The Korean beauty standard states that people should have rosy, clear skin, and this stacks up odds against those who fill their color palette with shades of yellows and browns. This causes netizens to accuse people who claim to be winter or summer of the “cool-tone wannabe syndrome” (쿨톤병). When influencers such as Im Ji-yun (임찌) with tanned skin claimed to have cool undertones, haters went berserk. In fact, they condemned her to the point she had to change her makeup and clothes because of all the backlash she faced. Even when YouTubers and TikTokers present evidence from official personal color tests to prove their categories, viewers continue to claim otherwise and look down upon them. What an irony, that when influencers assert that they have warm skin tones, no one raises their voice. 

A web drama shares a story of how a cool-tone character looks down on a warm-tone character saying they have yellow skin. Photo Courtesy of Youtube.

Like the wave MBTI brought to Korea, personal color swept people away into an unintended hierarchy. The trend began with the purpose to guide people in fashion and cosmetics, but nowadays, Koreans obsess over it and taint it with their own biases. These fanatics hate on people with autumn warm tones with the gusto they bashed INFPs with during the MBTI boom. We should embrace all sets, but we tend to prefer one over the other. 

A netizen asserts their opinion on autumn-warm tone. They said, “autumn-warm tone is cursed. Especially deep autumn. No one wants to be autumn-warm because it means you look like an ugly, disgusting inferior. Being a cool-tone makes you take pride in it. Autumn tones want to act sexy but it just makes them look like an old lady. Honestly, it is always an autumn warm tone that cries about their faces and retakes the test to become anything but their own skin color.” Photo Courtesy of Nate Pann.

Personal color definitely has the potential to further the reach of the fashion industry when used in the right way, but only when all color palettes receive the appreciation they deserve. We should work to understand the beauty of diversity instead of dividing and ranking ourselves, whether we have summer cool or autumn warm skin.

 

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About the Contributors
Serena Travers
Serena Travers, Writer
A rising senior, Serena Travers returns to continue her avid passion for journalism. This year, she aspires to share her thoughts, meet new people, and take the best of the best photos. She also plans to dabble in design to bring the yearbook to the next level as she leaves high school. She combines her love for psychology with her writing. Her excitement and dedication to the Flyover staff is evident by the fact that she takes two media classes at DIS.
Leanne Yoon
Leanne Yoon, Managing Editor
Leanne Yoon, dubbed as “Lenny” by her close friends, rises into her sophomore year bursting with ambition. As a leader of clubs such as Menstruation Station, SOAR, Debate Club and String Orchestra, Leanne often ponders on what else she could bring to her fellow Jets. In her leisure time, she vibes to music and immerses herself in all things K-culture. This year, Leanne hopes to bring the Flyover to the next level as the co-managing editor of the publication. 

Luna Kang
Luna Kang, Section Editor
Luna, after 13 long years, finally enters her last act as a senior at DIS. She vibes with illustration and photography, but also takes great interest in music and literature. Having been with the Flyover for over half her time here, Luna reads and spices up almost every article that gets published. So far, her own best articles are in the news categories - Go check them out!
Catherine Park
Catherine Park, Editor in Chief
Cath loves writing stories and making art. Luckily, God gifted her a talented left hand. As the vice president of the National Arts Honor Society, she can be seen drawing around campus. Cath explores many different genres of books, music, movies, and activities, and is willing to explore more about them throughout her experience as the editor-in-chief. All she needs is paper, a pencil, an eraser, and her dog, Russell. Cath writes, illustrates comics, edits articles, and manages the Jets Flyover.
Sunny Oh
Sunny Oh, Photographer / Designer
Sunny starts a new chapter of her life as a photographer and designer on the Jets Flyover staff. Even though she could not take journalism class as a sophomore, she volunteered to take photos during her free time, many of the shots making it into the yearbook. Sunny loves music, dance, art, and sports, especially volleyball. She brings her passion for aesthetics to the Flyover, aspiring to bring the yearbook to the next level.

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Comments (3)

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  • M

    Ms. MorissetteOct 27, 2023 at 1:51 am

    I’ve seen this trend circulating lately, but I didn’t know about the biases and hierarchy in place. Your journalism always gets me thinking more about the complexities and connections of topics. I’ll be adding this one to our class mentor texts!

    Reply
  • J

    JeromeOct 26, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    Interesting topic! This personal tone topic is completely new to me.

    Reply
  • C

    ChristinaOct 26, 2023 at 7:24 pm

    I didn’t know anything about this! Good to know!

    Reply