Bridging cultures: A chat with Jung Ho Seok on the beauty of K-Beauty

3 mins read
Photo supplied: Korean Cultural Centre of South Africa (KCCSA)

The Korean Cultural Centre in South Africa (KCCSA) became the epicentre of beauty innovation last week as it hosted a three-day K-beauty workshop  in Brooklyn, Pretoria. 

The workshop was spearheaded by South Korean beauty guru Jung Ho Seok (정호석), known as ‘SHAWN’ (@shawn_issure on Instagram).

Jung captivated a diverse South African audience who was keen to learn everything they could about Korean beauty trends. The event was so successful, additional afternoon sessions had to be added due to the overwhelming interest shown. 

<em>Photo supplied Korean Cultural Centre of South Africa KCCSA<em>

Aromatica sponsored the K-beauty products used at the event.

More about Jung Ho Seok

Known widely as the beauty creator SHAWN, Jung previously worked as a makeup artist at the Amorepacific Corporation before launching his own brand in 2020. Since then, he has amassed a following of more than 200k on Instagram, and nearly five million views on YouTube.  

Jung also serves as the marketing director at Taeju-Bio, and was appointed as an adjunct professor at Yeonsung University in September 2023.

Discussing K-Beauty trends with Jung Ho Seok

I had the opportunity to sit down with Jung Ho Seok – and let me tell you, it was nothing short of fabulous. I couldn’t wait to delve deeper into his world. His warm smile and easygoing manner made it feel like catching up with an old friend instead of meeting a beauty icon for the first time. 

We talked about his journey as a beauty content creator, about the challenges of promoting male cosmetics, and his short visit to South Africa. 

Jung has promoted K-beauty internationally, with recent trips to South Africa, Japan, and Vietnam. I was curious about what this experience has been like. 

Jung says in Korea, he found it easy to fall into a routine where everything is familiar. But when he goes on these business trips, he finds refreshing moments and experiences new things. 

<em>Photo supplied Korean Cultural Centre of South Africa KCCSA<em>

This brought me to my next question about trends. I wanted to learn more about how the perception and use of male cosmetics has evolved, both in South Korea and around the world. 

K-Beauty and the evolution of male cosmetics

As a beauty influencer on social media, Jung often receives negative comments.

Some question why he does what he does. Others want to know why he uses makeup since he’s a man. Even though these comments aren’t outright hateful, he tries to not be influenced by it. 

Instead, he seeks to understand their point of view in the hopes that they would respect his perspective.

<em>Photo supplied Korean Cultural Centre of South Africa KCCSA<em>

He doesn’t force anyone to agree with him, but merely tries to share his own experiences and content, even when viewers don’t understand. 

“The point is, respect each other”, Jung says.

It’s a principle he lives by. 

Despite the rising interest in male cosmetics, it’s still a relatively new and evolving concept in the beauty industry, hindered by stereotypes and resistance. Jung says this is why he loves introducing men’s beauty to students.

“It’s very new, but it has the potential to be very popular. I hope so!” 

<em>Day 3 of the K beauty event at KCCSA Photo supplied Korean Cultural Centre of South Africa KCCSA<em>

Jung’s advice for aspiring artists

What words of advice does he have for others who wish to pursue a career in makeup and beauty? What skills do they need to get started?

Jung advises makeup artists to expand. Don’t focus exclusively on makeup, since it ties in with so many other factors – like skincare.

“Skincare is the most important thing.”

It’s the foundation you’d need to build a successful career. 

<em>K beauty workshop demonstration Photo supplied Korean Cultural Centre of South Africa KCCSA<em>

The second requirement is stamina, coupled with a keen sense of awareness.

During these workshops, Jung stands for hours, talking and instructing students. But more than just sharing his knowledge, he also needs to sense what his students (and customers) need.

“Oh, this customer likes this type of thing, that one likes something else. Having the sensors to identify what customers need – and stamina – is very important.”

Cultural impact of K-Beauty – Jung’s reflections

Jung concluded the interview by saying he ventured from the distant shores of South Korea to an unfamiliar country (South Africa), and he was very worried at first. However, he soon realized South Africans were keen to explore K-Beauty and K-Culture.

“I was really glad that these kinds of things could bring us closer, even if our physical distances are far apart.”

My final question, of course: “Do you like South Africa?”

Jung: “Yes! Especially the weather and the people.” 

<em>Jung Ho Seok talking about connecting with students and customers Photo supplied Korean Cultural Centre of South Africa KCCSA<em>

He had the full South African experience by visiting the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve once the workshop concluded. 

As our conversation drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on the brief yet enriching conversation we had. More often than not, interviews such as these become a fleeting moment in a relentless pursuit of stories, but this exchange was a breath of fresh air. 

It was an insightful journey into the heart of K-beauty, led by a person whose passion and dedication to his craft are as genuine as they are inspiring. 

With his blend of expertise and approachability, Jung Ho Seok reminded me that beauty and culture can transcend boundaries.

Follow Jung Ho Seok on Instagram (@shawn_issure) and YouTube for a blend of K-beauty woven with his travel adventures.

Cheryl Kahla has dedicated her career to exploring the intersections of tech and society. With contributions to numerous international outlets, she provides insights into emerging tech trends, AI, science, and the impact of digital innovations. Outside of writing, Cheryl indulges in gaming, martial arts, and debating the merits of AI with her cat, Gotham. He’s indifferent to the subject.

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