Ghost Surgery in South Korea?



Ghost Surgery in South Korea?


The world of Korean plastic surgery has earned international acclaim for its expertise, emphasis on natural beauty, and the allure of age-defying treatments. Amidst the buzz, the term "Ghost Doctors" has become a captivating enigma, drawing attention to the mysterious allure of medical professionals in South Korea. In this exploration, we unravel the popularity of this term, shed light on the significance of choosing a reputable Korean plastic surgery clinic, and delve into the merits of utilizing Docfinderkorea—a distinguished medical tourism agency.


The term “Ghost surgery” or “Ghost doctors” is a surgery where the person who performs the operation is not the surgeon who was hired for the operation. While it is unsafe and unethical for ghost doctors to operate in the first place, in most cases, it is even more dangerous because many of these individuals lack the necessary qualifications or medical licenses to practice the operation.


Why the Term Holds Significance

The term ghost surgery and ghost doctor gained prominence in the 2010s after the boom of the medical tourism industry. As the demand for plastic surgery soared, plastic surgery clinics sought to maximize patient numbers by double-booking operations through the use of ghost doctors. Unfortunately, the increased use of ghost doctors for financial gain led to a rise in medical incidents and fatalities.

Adding to the prominence of the term “ghost doctor” is its widespread recognition through media coverage, extensive discussions, and notably following the tragic Kwon Dae Hee case.

Kwon Dae-Hee’s Case

Kwon Dae-Hee was a university student who had been bullied throughout high school for his chin. He became very insecure about his appearance and decided to book an appointment at a well-known clinic at that time. The clinics advertised that the head doctor would operate from the beginning to the end of the surgery and stated they had zero accidents for 14 years. Seeing that advertisement, Kwon Dae-Hee decided to put his trust in his surgeon and got surgery. During surgery, he passed away from excessive bleeding after undergoing jawline surgery from a ghost doctor. Kwon’s mother found out after reviewing CCTV footage that her son’s surgery was not under the hired surgeon, but a general doctor, and most of the operation was performed by a nursing assistant. “It is a medical crime when someone else – ‘a ghost’ – performs the surgery and not the surgeon hired without the patient’s consent,” she said. While Kwon was losing over 3.5 liters of blood (70% of his blood) unsupervised, both doctors had gone home. This has led to his death from excessive bleeding. The surgeon was sentenced to three years of prison for involuntary manslaughter, and the clinic was charged with 430 million won in damages. After this incident, the “Kwon Dae-Hee bill” passed in August of 2021, which mandates the installation of CCTV cameras in operating rooms.

Kwon Dae-Hee Law

On September 25th, 2023, the installation of CCTV in operating rooms of medical institutions while the patient is unconscious was fully implemented. According to the amendment, medical institutions must post a notice in advance that filming surgical procedures is possible. If the patient or guardian requests filming of the operation, the clinic must film the medical staff’s surgical procedures on CCTV. Patients must note that filming of surgical scenes can be refused under these three circumstances:

- When performing an emergency surgery

- When performing a high-risk surgery that requires active measures to save a patient’s life

- When there is a risk of significantly impeding the achievement of training goals at a teaching hospital.

If refused, the head of the medical institution must store the record of disclosure reason for refusal for three years. If refusal does not fall under these three justifiable grounds, the hospital must pay a fine of 5 million Korean won. In addition, if the obligation to install and film CCTV is violated, there will be a fine of up to 5 million krw.


There has been opposition from many doctors and clinics following this bill, claiming that mandating CCTV in operation rooms violates basic constitutional rights such as freedom of professional practice and personal rights. They also state that this will destroy the trust between patients and medical professionals. The Korean Medical Association had even opposed the proposed bill.

However, others refute this claim, with one doctor stating that the cameras had improved patients’ confidence. “They’ve helped us win our community’s trust,” he said. “That has been the biggest advantage.” There have also been many supporters for the change, with over 50,000 signatures to the Blue House, which has eventually led to the Kwon Dae-Hee Law.

Choosing the Right Korean Plastic Surgery Clinic

Even with the law in place, it remains crucial to select a reputable Korean plastic surgery clinic for a safe and successful experience. Look for clinics that are board-certified, which ensures that the surgeons have undergone rigorous training and adhere to the highest standards of professionalism.


The Role of Docfinderkorea

In the vast landscape of medical tourism, navigating the choices can be overwhelming. This is where a trusted medical tourism agency like Docfinderkorea comes into play. Specializing in connecting international patients with top-notch Korean plastic surgery clinics, Docfinderkorea ensures a safe and exemplary experience.


Partnering exclusively with board-certified clinics recognized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Docfinderkorea prioritizes safety, excellence, and ethical practices, with CCTV installations across all affiliated clinics. The allure of Korean plastic surgery should not overshadow the critical need for safety and transparency. By making informed choices and using reputable agencies like Docfinderkorea, individuals can embark on a journey to enhance their beauty while prioritizing their well-being.