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This Young CEO Is Teaching Korean Women How To Love Their Bodies

South Korean Jisoo Lee launched a 'habit shaping' app called Dano.
PHOTO: Instagram/

We’ll be the first to admit that the Korean craze is slowly but surely taking over not just the entertainment world, but the beauty industry as well. However, like us, Korean women also struggle with the pressure of adhering to unrealistic beauty standards. Jisoo Lee recognized this problem, and that’s why she co-founded Dano, a mobile personal training service that’s designed to help Korean women develop a healthier body image.

At the Forbes #Under30Summit on July 25, 2017, spoke to Jisoo about Dano and her weight loss journey.

What’s the story behind Dano?

I gained 20 kgs (or 45 pounds) when I studied in the U.S. It stressed me out because everyone was telling me that I needed to go on a diet and lose weight. I tried every ridiculous diet plan in the world. I did the lemon water detox program as well as the cayenne pepper diet. There was also the “one fruit” diet when I only ate apples or bananas. Oh, and I’ve also only eaten chicken breast salad. For most of these diets, I only lasted three days, and they always ended in a binge-eating [session]. I was so frustrated. I thought, “Something is wrong. Why are all these people judging me for my appearance? I wanted to change the conversation.” That’s why I created Dano.

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How does Dano work?

Dano offers customized workout videos, nutrition coaching, and “habit shaping.” It’s not about shaping your body; it’s about changing your habits. Dano connects clients to fitness trainers and nutritionists. Actually, there’s no miracle cure or secret behind our platform. And some people think it’s “too boring” or “too typical.” But we make “boring” more doable. Through our app, you can write about what you eat. You can take photos of yourself [to keep track of your progress]. And you can ask your coach anything you want.

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What kind of message do you want to send with Dano?

I started Dano to tell girls who want to be skinny to focus on treating their bodies right; weight loss will just be a natural side effect or consequence. If you only focus on losing weight, it’s going to feel like a burden—physically and mentally. Many Koreans like to see before and after photos so it was hard to deliver our vision because the importance of health [and self-love] aren’t visible. So I shared my own story and posted transformation photos as well, and the responses have been really positive.

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What’s your message to women who are struggling with self-love?

Personally, I thought I’d finally be happy when I reached my goal of 49 kgs—49 is the “magic number”—because in South Korea, it’s the “celebrity weight.” I worked out. I ate less. I finally got down to 48 kgs, but I was still unhappy. That was the turning point. That’s when I realized that beauty isn’t something you can consume. It’s just a thing you have to feel, so I started thinking more beautiful thoughts. I also looked for my “beauty spots” or parts of my body that I already loved. After that, beauty products just became things I used to enhance my beauty, but they weren’t the source of it.

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