Why wearing a facemask is common in Korea and Japan

In the days of the coronavirus pandemic, people going about their day wearing a mask has become a usual sight. In some countries wearing a facemask has become obligatory and in others, it has turned into a part of everybody`s daily routine. However, there are a couple of countries where wearing a mask is nothing out of the ordinary. Surgical masks have been incorporated into the urban culture of Japan and Korea long before the virus outbreak.

What are the reasons for this and how do Japanese and Koreans treat this matter? Let us take a look.

Health and safety

The first and foremost reason why people have worn facemasks in Japan and Korea for such a long time now is to preserve their health. Whether there is a flu outbreak they want to protect themselves from or they have caught a cold themselves, people in these countries always resort to facemasks.

In overcrowded cities where people spend long hours standing next to strangers, facemasks provide a sense of security.


wearing a facemaskAnother important reason why Japanese and Korean people wear masks is to contain their allergies. Since the beginning of the century, disposable facemasks have been marketed and advertised as a means of preventing allergy reactions.

People in Japan and Korea often suffer from pollen allergies as well as from dust allergies. The air in big cities is commonly tremendously polluted and fine dust levels are extremely high. Facemasks are supposed to create a barrier that blocks out such pollutants that can enter the human organism through inhaling and cause a lot of trouble.

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Incognito mode

Japan and Korea are countries in which the concept of “keeping face” is fundamental. Because of the “lookism” culture in Korea and Japan, female students tend to wear facemasks when they have no makeup on.

In many cases, wearing a facemask out in public acts as a social firewall – a person in a facemask often means they don’t want to be approached. Some students tend to hide behind a mask when they want to avoid any questions, they haven’t studied for. The idea behind this is that when your face is hidden, your presence is less noticeable.

Wearing a facemask as a fashion statement

Koreans and Japanese are famous for how stylishly they dress. Naturally, whenever something like facemasks stays around for such a long time it inevitably becomes a fashion statement. Aside from the light-blue, disposable facemasks, nowadays one can find masks in different colors and styles, featuring different fashion brands.

With the facemask culture already ingrained into the Asian lifestyle, not much has changed since the coronavirus outbreak. People are just as cautious and just as good-looking.