Christina Yoon is an Atlanta-based filmmaker and director. Her new film, “Mirror,” takes a close look at Korean beauty standards as well as the extreme measures people will take to achieve their idea of perfection.
Yoon joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about the film. “Mirror” is screening online for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival through Oct. 31.
Yoon, who is Korean American, sought to explore the complexities of Korean beauty standards, which can differ from those in America.
“I do think there is a difference. I mean here in America, the Western standards of beauty, we see it every day on social media and in the media of a kind of idealized beauty that isn’t very realistic,” she said. “In Korean culture, it’s part of everyday life, of the value of beauty. It’s part of the society.
“I mean, when you apply for jobs in Korea, you’re required to send in a headshot with your resume. No matter the job you’re applying for.”
The film follows Yeona Song, a Korean woman who’s insecure about a large scar on her cheek. When she’s in public, she hides the scar under a mask. In an attempt to get the scar removed, she visits a black market hospital known as “Hallelujah Hospital.” She wants to remove the scar, but she’s pressured to have her entire face changed. Song is faced with the dilemma to either undergo surgery or learn to love the skin she’s in.
Yoon studied film and received her undergrad degree from New York University, then moved to South Korea for a few years to work in creative development. She said moving to South Korea made a big impact on her decision to create this film.
“It’s so common in Korean culture for young teenagers to get plastic surgery procedures done, small procedures done. It’s very much the norm there. I think it was something that I questioned very deeply when I lived there,” she said. “I felt myself being affected by those pressures of the feeling that if that I wasn’t dressed up a certain way or didn’t have make-up on, that I wouldn’t be taken seriously or treated nicely.
“It’s quite severe there, and that’s something that I wanted to explore.”
This film was made as part of Yoon’s graduate film program at Columbia University. She hopes to make this into a feature-length film one day.
MIRROR – Trailer from Christina Yoon on Vimeo.