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When you think of “big players” in North American beauty, you probably think of Cover Girl or Rimmel or MAC. And you’d be wise to think that, considering they are recognized across the planet. But did you know that if you lived in South Korea, there aren’t a handful of  “big players”? There are approximately 1,800 to 2,000. And the biggest player of them all is … the Korean government.

To backtrack for a quick second, you should know that Korea isn’t home to an abundance of natural resources. While it has a seemingly endless supply of BB creams in adorable packages, air cushion compacts, water-free cosmetics, horse, donkey and snail creams, and sheet masks, it doesn’t have a wealth of minerals, natural gas and oil.

Memebox/Thinkstock

So, when you lack major world exports, you improvise. And while the government inserting itself into the equation isn’t new, it has only previously done so with exports like Samsung and Hyundai-Kia. And that didn’t end well. Because as soon as Korea’s economy reached horrific lows in the 1990s, the International Monetary Fund had to step in and bail out the country with a $57 billion package and it was forced to diversify economically – fast. Hence, getting in the beauty biz.

There is a growth strategy in place now that has proven quite successful. Essentially, the government has involved itself in the successful mass export of beauty products, because there is huge demand in North America, China and Japan. Last year, Korea exported $1.4 billion worth of beauty products, which is more than what they brought into the country, which was valued at $1.29 billion.

So, the next time you put on a sheet mask, think of it in terms of a mutually beneficial relationship. You’re strengthening South Korea’s economy (and, probably its better living index) while getting firmer, glowing skin.