Korean newscaster Im Hyun Ju appeared on the April 10, 2018 broadcast News Today morning news program with glasses and, while this might at first not seem like a big deal, it had a tremendous impact on Korean society.
Im Hyun Ju is now one of the only two female newscasters to have worn glasses on the news. She is the first to have done so on an official news program as its regular newscaster, in the history of all live news programs on Korea’s three major broadcasting channels.
After the news, Im Hyun Ju uploaded a picture sharing her thoughts about this change.
I went on the news with glasses on today. I didn’t have to wear fake lashes, so I didn’t have to wear too much make-up. My eyes didn’t dry out as much, so I didn’t need eyedrops that I couldn’t live without. But because I had glasses on, everyone asked me “Why are you wearing glasses?” this morning.
— Im Hyun Ju
The internet reacted with praise and encouragement for the newscaster’s decision to break the unwritten tradition.
Korea has always had high beauty standards when it came to newscasters. While there is no regulation to limit female newscasters from wearing glasses, most female newscasters shared they feel the social pressure to look “fancy” and “flawlessly beautiful”. This, in turn, has created a mutual agreement among the female newscasters not to wear glasses, since no one else wears them.
I wanted to show people that it’s okay for female newscasters to wear glasses on the news as well. Whether it is refreshing or strange, it should trigger new perspective, I hope. Just because I’m a ‘female’ newscaster does not mean I cannot wear glasses, and I certainly hope no one sees my glasses as a distraction to watching the news.
— Im Hyun Ju
Im Hyun Ju stated that, while her decision to wear glasses may seem like a surprise and a one-time event, she is going to continue “feeling comfortable to wear glasses when [she’d] like.” In fact, she has appeared wearing glasses again the next morning, empowering her fellow female newscasters to break the unreasonable beauty standards.
Im Hyun Ju posted a longer statement about her decision after the second day of going glasses-on.
I have received so much attention for simply putting on glasses on a news program that I have been casting everyday. I believe my glasses have reminded everyone who has worn, or had to take off, their glasses of their personal experiences.
I received a message, which I haven’t been able to reply to yet, from a recent applicant who auditioned to become a newscaster. She said she usually wears glasses, but for the camera test, she decided to wear contacts. Since she’s not used to wearing lenses, however, she couldn’t read the prompter well. She messaged me saying she feels like she won’t have to feel forced to wear lenses, and that she found the courage to wear glasses instead.
Those of you ladies who wear both glasses and contacts know that the society sees glasses as either being too casual or for hiding a bare face. Especially in the work place, you may have felt that there is a certain pressure to wear glasses only if there is a very good reason or if you looked even better in glasses.
I was asked tons of questions about my glasses too. My decision came out of sheer practicality. For me to go live in the morning for my news program, I have to get up early. And because I lack sleep and time in the morning, I felt it would be so convenient if I could throw on my glasses instead. And by doing that, I’d be saving myself the time and effort that I could put into delivering the news instead.
Unfortunately, while no one openly stopped me from wearing glasses, I still needed a lot of courage to be the first to do what no one else is doing. What if someone said I don’t look good in glasses? I’d feel so small, I wouldn’t be able to answer.
What if more time passes and I can no longer wear contact lenses? What if a time comes when I have to wear glasses? I’m sure other newscasters also think about this too. But I don’t want to worry about such things anymore. I have faith in my viewers, faith that they will focus on the news I’m casting and not the glasses I’m wearing. So, thank you, for helping me realize that the uncertain fear I had of wearing glasses on live news is merely a fear.
Now, people ask me if I will be wearing glasses on the next show. I tell them I’d be disappointing so many people if I didn’t. But I hope for the time to come—the time when my glasses are no longer the talk of the century, the time when whether I have glasses on or not is no longer strange or special. Because my glasses are not what is important, after all.
— Im Hyun Ju
Im Hyun Ju’s statement is inspiring both men and women nationwide. Koreans are looking forward to seeing Im Hyun Ju and other female newscasters be more natural and comfortable on the monitor.