Nevertheless, the trend appears impossible to stop, said Kim Ju-duck, a professor of beauty studies at Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul, with the media increasingly showing images of young girls wearing makeup, and with cosmetics accessible to preteens and younger children.

He surveyed 288 girls in elementary school in 2016 and found that 42 percent wore makeup. He said the proportion has risen since then…

“From K-pop divas to K-beauty cosmetics, the market capitalizing on women’s objectification has become a hyper-saturated ‘red ocean’ in South Korea,” said Yoon-Kim of Konkuk University, using a term describing an existing market with cutthroat competition.

“The market sees a ‘blue ocean’ for expansion in younger customers, ready to instigate and monetize their insecurities about their appearance.”