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Most consumers won't really know or care about the behind-the-scenes machinations of how they get their Korean beauty items but it's become quite a brutal, competitive scene. 

I used to say half jokingly that it's like a drug war with different cartels ("K-Beauty cartels") fighting for brands and territory in order to claim their space. The scene has changed over the years as the space has matured and grown. Even as someone who works in the industry, I still get confused about who sells what and who has the right to distribute which brand and how brands end up in channels like Costco. Here's my attempt synthesize:

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I know we all say it but, wow, 2017 really did fly by and it's been quite a busy year for K-Beauty and Inside the Raum. 

First, I want to thank all my readers for following along and sending comments, notes, messages, etc. When I started this website, I wanted to provide an alternative and more objective view of the K-Beauty industry in the US, something different from all the consumer oriented PR. It's been great to meet my readers at conferences and events, and I'm excited to see what 2018 will have in store. If there are other types of content or topics, you'd be interested in reading about, don't hesitate to let me know in the comments section as I continue to build out this site and my business.

Now that we're about two weeks away from 2018, I wanted to write a post on some predictions for K-Beauty next year. 

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Interviews & Spotlight

Ju Rhyu's contribution to nylon magazine

Koreans Don't Actually Like Tony Moly

Dayoung Bak, a 24-year-old, tattoo-dappled, platinum blonde makeup artist, can't believe Tony Moly is in Sephora. "This is the cheapest brand in Korea," Bak tells me in a cafe near Hongdae, a hip neighborhood in Seoul. Even though Bak doesn't like to spend too much money on her skin care, she still steers clear of Tony Moly.

Last week, Tracy Robey published an article on Racked titled "What Kim Jong-Un Has to Do With Your Skincare." Quick self-plug but she quotes me a few times as she dissects the geopolitics of China, North Korea and South Korea and how that impacts K-Beauty.

One statement I found super interesting was by professor Hannah Jun of Ewha University. 

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Press & Media

Read Ju Rhyu's Contribution to Racked.com

What Kim Jong-un Has to Do With Your Skincare

South Korea's beauty products are caught in the crossfire of the battle for who will dominate East Asia. First up, there's Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, currently owner of a stash of worryingly functional nuclear weapons.


About two weeks ago, news broke that Amorepacific USA got a new leader in Jessica Hanson, who was hired as President and General Manager of US operations. As with any leadership change, I anticipate she will try to make her mark on the business as she navigates the choppy waters of retail and department store distribution and rides the wave of the K-Beauty trend in the US. Here are 4 things that I think she should do in order to take Amorepacific to the next level. 

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News & Analysis

Sephora Makes Positive Changes to K-Beauty Assortment

Back in April, I wrote a post on the definition of K-Beauty. So many brands were jumping on the bandwagon calling their products "K-Beauty" and retailers were adding a lot of non-Korean brands into their K-Beauty section. Sephora was one of them and I called them out for having Japanese brands like boscia and Tatcha in their K-Beauty section. This post resonated with readers and a lot of people agreed with the dilution of what it meant to be K-Beauty.

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News & Analysis

winners & losers: unilever buys carver korea

Last week, news broke that Dutch conglomerate Unilever bought Carver Korea for $2.7B. Carver Korea is a Korean cosmetics company best known for the brand A.H.C. (Aesthetic Hydration Cosmetics). Most of us in the States won't recognize it because its biggest market is China with much less awareness and presence in the US. 

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News & Analysis

Photo source: Innisfree.com

Photo source: Innisfree.com

will innisfree succeed in the us?

The title of this post is a question I've gotten a few times so here are a few reasons why I think Innisfree will do well in the US market.

THEY HAVE A STRONG AND COHESIVE BRAND STORY

Say what you will about whether or not Innisfree actually lives up to their brand story with their formulations, but their brand story is strong and cohesive. Touted as the first natural Korean beauty brand in Korea, Innisfree emphasizes ingredients of the earth, sourced from Jeju Island (described as the Hawaii of Korea) and their product lineup boasts things like Jeju volcanic clay, green tea, lava seawater and the like.

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News & Analysis

State of the union of k-beauty

To be honest, it's been a slow news cycle in the K-Beauty world. Perhaps it's because it's summer but there hasn't been much new news these days. So, I thought I would write a kind of state of the union in K-Beauty as I see it in the US. 

B2C IS ABOUT THE 3 HORSEMAN

The past few years have been witness to a deluge of new direct-to-consumer e-Commerce sites offering Korean beauty products but it's really all about the 3 Horseman.

Soko Glam, Peach & Lily, and Glow Recipe are really the three to watch and the ones that have made the most meaningful inroads in the US market. 

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