This time the reaction was positive, though perhaps patronizingly so. To the public, the D-I-Y aspect of the hair rollers symbolized Lee’s dedication to her work, her less-than-perfect hair allowing them to draw a contrast between her and Park’s perceived vanity. Lee, acting chief justice of the constitutional court at the time, and the only female among its eight judges, hardly needed that validation.

Meanwhile the reactions this week to Park’s D-I-Y effort to tidy her hair ranged from “hideous” to seeing it as an unwillingness to admit she’s no longer in power.

“With Park Geun hye, all the commentary about her fashion choices, what her hair looks like—it’s very sexist. Nobody said that about any of the male presidents,” said Michael Hurt, a professor at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies who specializes in visual sociology. “It’s also telling when you have a constitutional court judge, where people are like, ‘She obviously works hard because she has rollers in her hair.’ You don’t see people saying that about [US Supreme Court justice] Ruth Bader Ginsberg.”

Soo Kyung Jung contributed to this article.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Michael Hurt as a professor at Hanyang University.

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