Plastic Surgery: The Cost of Beauty | 101 East


South Korea has the most cosmetically enhanced people on the planet. The practice of going under the knife is viewed as a gateway to better careers and the key to a happier life. But the high demand for a plastic appearance is also fueling a dangerous addiction. I’m Steve Chow on this edition of 101 East we’ve investigated South Korea’s plastic surgery boom. South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is at the heart of a growing obsession. An obsession to look perfect. People from across the nation and the world are flocking here for plastic surgery, supporting what has become a five billion dollar a year industry. More people have cosmetic surgery in South Korea per capita than anywhere else on Earth. But the quest for beauty and profits is putting lives at risk. What’s driving the growth of this booming business? And at what price to both individuals and the wider Korean society? In South Korea, it seems beauty is everything. For women, that means big round eyes, a pointed nose, a pleasant smile, a V-shaped chin, and a slim jaw. And this is when they come to get it. So this is Apgujeong, which is effectively the Las Vegas strip of plastic surgery, and all the lights behind me here all these businesses 95% of these businesses are plastic surgery clinics, and you walk past these clinics and I have a lot of advertising in the front windows and there’s pictures of the doctors and the doctors are effectively the movie stars of the plastic-surgery world They’re the celebrities of the clinic, demigods. More than 4000 clinics provide cosmetic surgery in Seoul, with an estimated 650,000 per year going under the knife. The number of operations are soaring, but with that has come an increase in cases where things go wrong. Today, I’m visiting one of the biggest and most popular plastic surgery clinics in Seoul. Man: Hey Nick: Hey Man: How are you? Nick: Nice to meet you! Man: Welcome to Grand Plastic Surgery. 10 years old, the Grand has recently expanded. Opening a 15-story tower with state-of-the-art medical facilities, employing 30 doctors, and 400 staff. We were given unprecedented access to the building. We’ll be at closely monitored by a PR team. The general manager, KS. Young, gave us a tour The Grand needs to present a positive image in order to maintain its position as one of Seoul’s leading plastic surgery clinics. Young is very keen to show me that surgery here isn’t a risk. What would you say is the most popular surgery here? The majority of plastic surgery patients are women in their late teens and twenties. like Ahn Min Yung, a 24 year old piano teacher from Seoul. As part of the package, she’s having a pre-op photo shoot. Like most of the Grand’s customers, her reasons for going under the knife have nothing to do with medical necessity. One of Seoul’s most famous surgeons is Ryu Sang Wook, head doctor at Grand plastic surgery. [Knocks] Under Doctor Wook’s stewardship, the Grand has gained a reputation as a clinic that can perform the full range of surgeries. This one-stop-shop service has turned it into one of the country’s most lucrative. Ahn is just one of many young people who are choosing to go under the knife. Koreans are flocking to plastic surgery clinics like never before. It’s even common for parents to buy their children cosmetic operations as high school graduation gifts. For many, the promise of perfection and the pressure to conform are evident in the relentless media and advertising Koreans are bombarded with on a daily basis. In such an image driven consumerist environment, plastic surgery has become a high demand and lucrative industry. And now, it’s luring doctors from other fields. More doctors means more surgeries can be done, and clinics are increasingly trying to attract international clients to stay ahead of the pack YK plastic surgery in Gangnam is one of many smaller clinics targeting overseas customers According to its marketing manager, Park Jae-min. In 2013, some 400,000 foreigners came to South Korea for medical tourism, and this number is expected to rise to 1 million by 2020. YK’s head doctor, Kim Yong Kyu, says attracting foreign patients is a matter of survival for the clinics. Today, South Korea’s reputation leads the world for plastic surgery. Chinese patient, Zhu A Li (I apologize for mispelling it) traveled all the way from Shanghai for an operation in which she feels will improve her looks. To cater for this expanding market, a specially-designed government-funded center is open for foreign medical tourists. Hi, hi. Hey I’m nick This is Natalie. [Nick: Nice to meet you]. This is the place for foreign visitors from all the world to get medical service. This is a very interesting things. It’s a kiosk, so visitors come here if you are interesting about their surgery, but you don’t know where they need to go So I’ll press the button. It shows clinics is specialized for nose plastic surgeries So even location send it to their emails. [Nick: Asks your email from here, ok.] Squared jaw reduction. That’s just chopping down the jaw? [Natalie: Yes, yes, exactly] $4,134 Is there an age where it’s too young for you to let foreign people come for surgery? There’s no regulations, no. [Nick: Okay, alright.] For morality, they need to take think about it. [Nick: Oh all the clinics?] Yes, right, okay, okay? It depends on individuals. Okay, this is our experience. [inaudible] If you want to try [Nick: Yes, I’ll like to.] Put your forehead here and close your eyes. There’s going to [inaudible[. Please close your eyes Is this new technology? [Natalie: Yes, this is brand new and made by Korea.] It’s Korean technology. Okay, so all done, okay? How do I look? [Natalie: uhh] You need some time to analyze second please okay? Okay There’s pictures for your pores and wrinkles. We usually suggest them if we reduce the winkles with botox. Don’t move these muscles and these lines, It’s winkles. so this is good indication for filler [inaudible]. Generally, I feel your skin is well, it’s great. It’s not bad. [Nick: Oh, thank you.] Just take care of your winkles Here, plastic surgery seems safe and friendly. But that’s not the reality for everyone. Shin Hyun Ho is a lawyer who specializes in prosecuting botched surgeries. He says victims often win cases, but due to Korean laws, compensation payouts are small, compared to countries like the U.S. He believes this makes doctors and clinics more willing to take unnecessary risks. He believes this makes doctors and clinics more willing to take unnecessary risks. Soo Yi Yoon is one plastic surgery client who claims her life has been destroyed by doctor one of Seoul’s leading clinics. She had her face and jaw line slimmed down and eyelid correction surgery. So was attracted to her clinic by positive customer reviews online, but these reviews could well have been faked by shady middlemen third party brokers have no medical knowledge of qualifications, and are paid commissions by clinics to entice customers. We managed to contact one of these brokers, but he’s extremely cautious. He insists we meet him in a provincial town two hours outside of Seoul and only wants to be interviewed in disguise at night in a backstreet alley. Do you actively try to persuade people who perhaps don’t really need plastic surgery to have plastic surgery? Soo was unable to afford a compensation lawyer and now works two jobs In order to pay off the $11,000 in credit card debts for her failed surgery. It’s time for Ahn to go under the knife But she remains anxious. It will be 3 or four months before Ahn finds out if this operation gives her the look she wants. But for one 19-year old woman, the quest for beauty has had devastating consequences She was left with severe brain damage after having plastic surgery at the Grand Since we’ve left Seoul, the Korean association of plastic surgeons have publicly apologized to the woman’s family, and expelled 4 of the Grand’s doctors after investigating the clinic. The Grand did not respond to our request for comment on the case. It seems the Grand didn’t hold the key to Ahn’s dreams of beauty either. The hospital told us she wasn’t happy that her face didn’t look slimmer after recovery. When we tried to contact her for a final interview, she stopped returning our calls With illegal brokers and a spate of malpractice victims, Koreans are paying a higher price for pursuing perfection. Despite the dangers, the rates of plastic surgery keep rising Some fear it’s creating a society where nothing matters but beauty. But for others, their perception of what is beautiful has changed forever.

100 thoughts on “Plastic Surgery: The Cost of Beauty | 101 East

  1. Somewhere in other parts of the world, there are men who want to undergo plastic surgery to look like members of Kpop boybands. They even do eyelid surgeries to look like a Kpop boyband member.

  2. And how about your genes,how will your kids react when they see you and compared your looks..just a thought but anyways thats your life so let ut be..

  3. When i watched korean drama,i always noticed whats the thing she did with her face its so obvious, too much botox has lessen the ability of the face to show emotion..it wont move..its like a corpse already..😃

  4. Blame it on the media, why we have outrageous beauty standards, but wait…..isn't it part of evolution that the partner will choose the more sexier superior mate, it basically boils down to natural selection, even other mammals like lions exhibits those kinds of behavior.

  5. I am glad that i was not born in South Korea. If i was from there, i might also get influence while i am really scare of only injection.
    .. I have visited, its beautiful and i love their foods. They have beautiful skin, why surgery is necessary??

  6. Mentally and socially a society driven culture! Sad how even a decent looking person will do it to fit in, we've lost our way… trying to be the most intelligent to being most IGNORANT species on the planet!

  7. I like how they send their most handsome reporter, presumably just to taunt the insecure Korean people.

    And look, lady, if you "don't know what to do with [your] life anymore" because you have slightly uneven eyes, I'd really recommend what you do with your life next is maybe go see a therapist or something.

  8. They think that plastic surgery is the answer to solve their beauty issues, on the contrary it actually is a catalyst to feel more insecure. Everytime they look at themselves, there is more dissatisfactions and hence more plastic surgeries. The vicious cycle continues…..🙁

  9. This is what happens when you give money to low-class people: They spend it on intoxication, prostitutes, and plastic surgery!

  10. I dissuaded my friend from making such a decision when she said she was having plastic surgery. Two months later, when I saw her sculptured nose and lovely eyes, I fell in love with her.
    There is a saying in Korea. Parents gave birth to me, and God surgeon made me perfect.
    I was dumped by her. We're not even friends anymore.

  11. So, when these women give birth to children that would not look like their fake faces, will they take their children to have plastic surgery too? So vain!

  12. thats fake and i think just be your self. Confidence, and thanks to god for what god gave to you, grateful If you like this we so can not distinguish the fake with the real beautiful

  13. They are the Prisoners of Plastic surgery 😭😭Common God made you/us all beautiful & attractive in our own unique way 😍 appreciate what you have before it vanish 🙏

  14. Ahn Min Yung is so beautiful. Of course, though, she has every right to do what feels right for her, I just had to comment on her though because she is really beautiful pre-op too. Many people don't see how beautiful they actually are and that is really sad. Comparison has done more damage than good.

  15. Also, So Yi Yoon. She is so beautiful. I don't really see her face the way she sees it (which makes sense) but I really think she is still beautiful. Ahhh, this sucks. She wishes she was pretty because she doesn't realize how beautiful she is already, this is sad.

  16. That girl DOES need to see a psychiatrist! There is nothing wrong with the way she looks. How can she lose all hope because of how she looks? That's just crazy!

  17. Before, I was always been fascinated of how the koreans looked like. Doll like eyes pointed nose and cute face I thought that they really looked liked that because of their race but after knowing it's all because of plastic surgery I now don't get fascinated by their looks.

  18. i dont really care much about PS. those who wants to do it. just do it. its not that it can destroy the world. u see. its ok. sooner or later. u will realize if its the best thing u ever did or not. u have to try to know right? the world we live in is not a place we can really control. whether u take ps or not. its not gonna change the fact that the world has its bad side. u see the moment u do PS on yourself. Its better to make urself ur goal and ur growth as a person not other people. coz even if u take surgery theres no proof that people will like you sincerely. do it to have more courage in living. dont do it for other people coz rejection is always there.

  19. If you're hot people attracted to how you look,
    If you're not so attractive people gonna be attracted to your character, talent and inner you! So I guess not being hot but having attractive character is also a blessing!

  20. they are so beautiful, i can’t understand why they do that, everybody had to say this woman that they are beautiful!!!!

  21. It’s kinda like when pple get tattoos all over their bodies, not so cool when you hit your fifties. Why would you want to bring undo attention to your old saggy wrinkly skin ?

  22. I thought the women feature didn’t look like they needed any surgery. It’s sad to see the young women, be so tormented by her negative beliefs. That she looks deformed and her life is over. Honestly she looks average, because she just gave up on maintaining a look. Hopefully she’s able to get some help.

  23. This video gave me a really new perspective about plastic surgery. In my country, when one gets a plastic surgery, they usually want to be a handsome or beautiful version of theirselves and they also want their plastic surgery to look natural. On the other hand there are these people on other countries who follows the fads and fashion on what they should look like and all I can say is that its hard to believe that we are really living in a similar world.

  24. Ngl though, I understand why some of them succumb to it. Just from transferring at Incheon once I felt constantly judged on my appearance by the locals most of the time. It’s not a country where I would like to be born into nor live, as they have absurd expectations that no one can fit into, just take a look at the kpop industry and you’ll get the rough idea of it. It’s depressing to say the least, and lobbyists are taking advantage of people’s misery, how awful.

  25. I need only to remove my pimples,,haha,,I am happy for that,but to change your face,,your living by a fake…..if you die,your pretty face is useless…..once you go heaven,they will ask you,"who are you"haha,God will tell you,i did not create like that your face…😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  26. Very wierd. What the vain are aiming for is to look like White people . Those proportions they talk of are also the ones idealized in The West.

  27. And yet, the true beauty does not come from looking good on the outside, this will fade and when people discover your true self, you might find that working on your mental health has a lot longer lasting effect. There are people born with deformities and really "off putting" facial features. And yet you can't help but admire their strength to go through life with a handicap that is so blatant obvious. True fact though, such people hardly ever find a job and pretty people appear to have it easier in life. True fact, beauty gives confidence, confidence results in success. Ergo, have confident and be successful.

  28. Please come to Africa- Ghana 🇬🇭a place where no one will critic of your looks. No racism but very 🤑 wealthy

  29. Doctors who do plastic surgery by knowing it's impact is really a doctor ?
    There is no difference between the butcher & this doctor, unfortunately no one raise their voices against things like this specially the so called liberal people.

  30. There was a case in China where a man married a beautiful woman and had children with her, but later discovered that his wife had extensive plastic surgery before they met. This man divorced the woman and won a huge lawsuit against her for deceiving him. This was perhaps 10 years ago. This does raise ethical questions. Any sort of cosmetic surgery, even corrective eye surgery to get better vision, disguises your underlying genetic tendencies. If somebody is considering having children with you, does that person have a right to know about any surgery you have had, cosmetic or not? This seems reasonable. Would you want to have kids with somebody with a high chance of genetic disease?

  31. All the women were so beautiful but they don't see it or believe in themselves because of pop culture nonsense. It's truly sad to see people go through some much pain just to look a certain way. Love yourself and have courage to believe in yourself wholeheartedly. ♥️💯

  32. This country definitely needs to change their perception of beauty and this won't happen if they keep saying that the society is judgemental of their appearance, they have to change their attitude first towards others and towards themselves. "Good things begin with you, not others ".

  33. i had wish that if i find a good Korean girl i will make her my life partner ,having seen that my mind has changed , i would rather marry a poor beautiful girl than marry a fake beauty .

  34. Put the surgery together with all the skin bleaching ; and it's quite easy to diagnose the problem ; that inflicts most asian countries

  35. I think the best way to enhance their looks is having their genes modified. Having Korean women married Western guys and Korean guys married Western women. Their children will be beautiful without worrying paying tons of money on plastic surgery and still worried that their children will be ugly like them.

  36. That's girl is already beautiful. Idk why she feel ashamed of herself. If she come to Indonesia, people will see her as beautiful attractive person. The malpractice she had on eyes and cheekbone doesn't look strange neither ugly. Feel sad for her.

    I have many friends whom doesn't attractive in Indonesian beauty standard but they always find the way to be confident with the look the have. Indonesian women are really love and proud of themselves that's why plastic surgery never be an option here. Things I am proud of this country 😆. Sorry for my English.

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