Caution: When Korean Plastic Surgery Goes Wrong


(Han Mi OK before and after injecting the oil)

(Japanese Magazine KEJ on Korean plastic surgery)

            As mentioned in my previous blog, foreigners invest thousands of dollars in plastic surgery in Korea. However, as much as other Asian countries desire the same Korean look, there are Asian magazines and TV programs criticizing and raising awareness of the blooming trend, especially in Japan. In 2009, a famous Japanese magazine, “Asahi,” published an article regarding the dangers of plastic surgery in Korea, targeting Korean entertainer Han Mi Ok as its main example. Han Mi Ok, also known as “fan lady,” first drew attention to herself by making an appearance on a Korean show called “The Things That Happen in This World.” There, she spoke of her addiction to plastic surgery, which ultimately led to the active injection of cooking oil in her face. As a result, her face expanded outwards, much like a fan, thus her nickname. The magazine warned Japanese readers that cheap plastic surgery in Korea can result in extreme distortions of the face, much like the case of Han Mi Ok. According to a Korean news site Kukinews, Japanese netizens (internet citizens) also responded by criticizing Korean plastic surgery, claiming that the procedure is dangerous and that it can lead to severe side effects. Japanese TV programs are also focusing on the plastic surgery fad in Korea, asking random Korean women on the street whether they have undergone plastic surgery.

Ironically, I also found Japanese magazines promoting Korean aesthetic clinics. A Japanese magazine KEJ, published an article in May 2009 dedicated to Kangnam Wisdom Plastic surgery clinic, located in Seoul. The article lures readers to consider Korean plastic surgery in order to achieve the look of famous Korean actresses, emphasizing improvement in the body’s “S” line, the chin’s “V” line, and the new “T” line, also known as the T-zone.

American magazines, such as fashion mag “W,” have also been taking note of the Korean plastic surgery craze, stating, “South Korea- a regional mecca for Asians seeking operations thanks to its skilled surgeons- is gunning to become the next plastic surgery world capital.” Furthermore, France is also beginning to notice advantages of Korean plastic surgery. In his article “V-line Face and S-line Body” published in nongag.com, stephane Couralet explains the amusement of seeing so many before-and-after pictures in subway stations, even calling it a type of art. More countries are discovering the advantages of plastic surgery in Korea and are viewing the trend in a positive and negative way.

Now for my trip to the plastic surgery clinic. At first I was very surprised because the clinic was located in a very small building. No advertisement banners could be seen unlike the clinics in Korea. The doctor with whom I spoke was Korean-American and could barely speak any Korean. I first told him I wanted to consult him about my eyes (a nose consultation cost $100) and vaguely asked him about the rest of my face. It turns out that I don’t need any major surgical procedures (phew!). But he said I could cut the inner corners of my eyes in order to lengthen them, inject filler in the bridge of my nose to create a high nose, and inject botox into my jawline to create a smaller face by shrinking the jaw muscle. He showed me various before-and-after pictures of his prior patients who have undergone certain procedures.

After the consultation I asked him a few questions regarding his procedures. The doctor goes to Korea every couple of years to shadow other Korean plastic surgeons and learn the updated techniques. He said the procedures in the U.S and Korea are slightly different because of the demands of the customers. In Korea, many of the patients bring in celebrity photos to illustrate the kind of look they’re reaching for and they demand a more dramatic change.

On the other hand, Korean-American customers, mostly female, in America don’t necessarily want to look like Korean celebrities, but simply want to slightly alter their facial features to create a more “pleasant” look.

The cost of my new eyes, had I gone through the procedure to lengthen them, would have been $2,800- with a 10% discount because they pushed my appointment back 30 minutes.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Caution: When Korean Plastic Surgery Goes Wrong

  1. sara

    hi!! i’m very interested to get the same procedure as u..lengthening my eyes. may i know how was ur surgery? do u like the results? and can u kindly recommend me on which clinic to go to? i’m not from korea. so i really hope to get some recommendations from others..thanks alot!!!

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