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Plastic surgery ‘boom’ in South Korea


Alice Rodgers
WVoN co-editor 

According to recent statistics, South Korea has overtaken America to become the world’s largest market for plastic surgery procedures, when population size is taken into account.

According to a report by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, one in five women in Seoul, the country’s capital, have gone under the knife.

The most popular surgical procedures include double eyelid surgery, lipoplasty and nose jobs.

Some sources claim that plastic surgery is so affordable in the country that it is “as common as haircuts”.

It is believed that the rise of South Korea’s pop culture over the past ten years could explain this sudden ‘boom’.

Hong Jeong-Geun, a spokesman for the Korea Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, said that many patients visit plastic surgery clinics with images of their favourite celebrities, requesting features just like theirs.

However it is not just South Koreans who have been taking advantage of the country’s growing plastic surgery industry, with a large number of patients coming from China, Japan, the Middle East and even Africa.

Aggressive tactics are increasingly being used to try and lure new clients into competing clinics.

Policy makers are looking at the boom as advantageous for South Korea’s economy and recently regulations have been eased, a greater budget has been allocated to the industry and awards have been given to successful clinics in order to promote medical tourism.

“I think there’s a good chance that plastic surgery can become South Korea’s new major export industry,” said Joo Kwon, a plastic surgeon in one of the largest clinics in the country.

However the serious physical and mental risks of plastic surgery don’t seem to have been addressed by South Korean policy makers and even cosmetic surgeons have expressed concern.

“I think South Korea has a very rigorous and narrow definition of beauty because we’re an ethnically homogenous society and everyone looks pretty much the same. It is also related to low self-esteem,” Joo commented.

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