BBC Three series exposes the dark side of K-Pop

A white British man who has had 15 surgeries to mimic the look of his favourite K-Pop star insisted he is ‘not trying to change race and look Korean’ in a new documentary about beauty standards.   

Being British East Asian: Sex, Beauty & Bodies, which is currently streaming on iPlayer, sees journalist Elaine Chong explore how many British Asians feel caught between the cultures of West and East, with episode two exploring beauty and plastic surgery.  

Among the contributors is British K-Pop singer and enthusiast Oli London, 30, who has had £125,000 worth of surgery to recreate the look of his favourite star Jimin, from K-Pop super band BTS.

‘Basically BTS debuted in 2013 and I was actually living in Korea at the time, and I was watching some TV and BTS performed and I was just amazed by all of them,’ he said.

Oli first hit headlines in February 2019 after news broke that he'd spent over £75,000 on surgeries to look like K-pop star. The K-Pop enthusiast pictured in Seoul's streets

Oli first hit headlines in February 2019 after news broke that he’d spent over £75,000 on surgeries to look like K-pop star. The K-Pop enthusiast pictured in Seoul’s streets

Oli London, 30, from London, has undergone 15 plastic surgeries and spent over £125, 000 in a bid to achieve his dream appearance for the Korean genre

Oli is inspired by Jimin, pictured, of K-Pop group BTS

Oli London, 30, from London, has undergone 15 plastic surgeries and spent over £125, 000 in a bid to look like Jimin, of K-Pop group BTS (right)

‘I want my entire lifestyle to revolve around K-pop and I want my entire look to look like Jimin because for me he is perfection, his jaw shape, his lips his voice, everything.’ 

Oli revealed he is trolled online for ‘trying to appear Asian’ but insisted he is not trying to change his race and is merely showing an appreciation for Korean culture. 

He said: ‘I get trolled so much online. They say “you’ll never be a Korean pop star”, even though I’ve had two top-eight hits on the iTunes chart. I think particularly the issue people seem to have with me is because I’m British I’m not Korean.’ 

‘I think I look very much like a K Pop star. The vast majority of them have surgery so it’s like, for anyone trying to be a K-Pop, they have to have a certain look.

‘And it’s very, very specific, the look. I’m not trying to change my race and look Korean, I just want the K-Pop look.’ 

After being quizzed on whether he sees why some in the Asian community may be ‘sensitive’ about his new appearance, Oli went on to defend himself by insisting he’s ‘appreciating’ the culture, rather than appropriating it. 

Aspiring K-pop artist Oli (pictured) has garnered a significant following on social media, with 105k followers on Instagram and 47k followers on TikTok, and has two top-eight hits on the genre's iTunes chart

Aspiring K-pop artist Oli (pictured) has garnered a significant following on social media, with 105k followers on Instagram and 47k followers on TikTok, and has two top-eight hits on the genre’s iTunes chart

Oli (pictured) revealed how he relentlessly receives a torrent of online abuse from trolls who accuse him of 'trying to appear Asian, with one saying they wanted to 'murder' the singer

Oli (pictured) revealed how he relentlessly receives a torrent of online abuse from trolls who accuse him of ‘trying to appear Asian, with one saying they wanted to ‘murder’ the singer

After being quizzed on whether he sees why some in the Asian community may be 'sensitive' about his new appearance, Oli defended himself by insisting he's 'appreciating' the culture, rather than appropriating it

After being quizzed on whether he sees why some in the Asian community may be ‘sensitive’ about his new appearance, Oli defended himself by insisting he’s ‘appreciating’ the culture, rather than appropriating it

‘I get why people would say that’, said Oli. ‘It’s 2020 everyone’s entitled to embrace different cultures. By doing the K-Pop, that’s because I have an appreciation for that culture.’

He added: ‘I get why some people from an Asian background would think that was very weird.’ 

Oli first hit headlines in October 2018 after news broke that he’d spent over £75,000 on surgeries to look like K-pop star, Jimin, from super band BTS.

He has garnered a significant following on social media, with 105,000 followers on Instagram and 47,000 followers on TikTok, and has had two top 10 hits on the genre’s iTunes chart.  

The documentary also hears from British-Singaporean singer  Ming Bridges, 27, who was once a rising pop sensation in Taiwan. 

Ming developed an eating disorder while trying to cope with the pressures of the music industry, and admitted that at one point she thought about taking her own life

Ming developed an eating disorder while trying to cope with the pressures of the music industry, and admitted that at one point she thought about taking her own life 

Ming Bridges (pictured), now 27, was a rising pop star in Taiwan, becoming the first Singaporean artist to perform on MTV sessions , playing a set of seven of her songs in English and Mandarin

Ming Bridges (pictured), now 27, was a rising pop star in Taiwan, becoming the first Singaporean artist to perform on MTV sessions , playing a set of seven of her songs in English and Mandarin 

Ming, now 27, was a rising pop star in Taiwan, becoming the first Singaporean artist to perform on MTV sessions, playing a set of seven of her songs in English and Mandarin. 

But as her career progressed, so did the pressure to lose weight, and Ming says she noticed a troubling correlation between her success and how skinny she was. 

‘My goal was to be a singer’, she explained. ‘And I would do whatever it took to get there. At that time I really abused my body. But the sad thing is, the more weight I lost the more popular I became.’ 

She revealed that the internet holds a wealth of concerning 'K-Pop' diets, which could be as little as a raw red cabbage and a bag of nuts in an entire day

She revealed that the internet holds a wealth of concerning ‘K-Pop’ diets, which could be as little as a raw red cabbage and a bag of nuts in an entire day

She went on to say that the internet holds a wealth of concerning ‘K-Pop’ diets, which could be as little as a raw red cabbage and a bag of nuts in an entire day. 

At another point in the documentary, Ming can be seen giving an example of Chinese social media challenge, the #A4PaperChallenge, which involves users showing off their waists that are so slim, they don’t appear over the edges of a vertical piece of A4 paper. 

Ming developed an eating disorder while trying to cope with the pressures of the music industry, and admits that at one point she thought about taking her own life. 

‘At one point I wanted to kill myself’, Ming explained. ‘I just didn’t want to be alive and it’s really sad I got to that point driven by my weight alone. To be honest it even took me quite a while to even realise I had an eating disorder.’ 

Being British East Asian: Sex, Beauty & Bodies, which can currently be streamed on iPlayer, sees journalist Elaine Chong reveal how many British Asians feel caught between the cultures of West and East

Being British East Asian: Sex, Beauty & Bodies, which can currently be streamed on iPlayer, sees journalist Elaine Chong reveal how many British Asians feel caught between the cultures of West and East

She went on to explain that in Asian culture to be thin is ‘seen as a good thing’, and says that beauty ideals include being ‘very petite’. 

‘It’s always seen as a good thing to be skinny,’ Ming said, ‘To be this self controlled Asian woman, who is very skinny, very petite.  

Now, Ming continues to pursue her music career while speaking out as a mental health and eating disorder activist. 

‘Once I did accept myself’, said Ming, ‘It took about three years to go to my natural weight and I’m really happy.’  

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