Journal

Back

Journal

Cosmetic Surgery Capital of the World

2022-12-16


Cosmetic Surgery Capital of the World


Sometimes called “the Cosmetic Surgery capital of the world,” South Korea currently performs 24% of all cosmetic surgeries. In 2020, it was estimated that the South Korean plastic surgery industry was worth to be $10.4 billion. The historical and cultural context behind cosmetic surgery is related to societal pressures, economic opportunities, and cultural beliefs that have contributed to the popularity of this growing field.

 

Traditionally in South Korea, job seekers are required to include a photo of themselves in their applications. One study found that 80% of job recruiters cited that physical appearance was an important factor when screening candidates. In another study, the majority of male and female applicants both indicated that they believed attractiveness was a crucial factor in seeking various job opportunities. Currently, the majority of South Koreans who undergo plastic surgery are in the age groups between 20-40 years old. A study has shown that 46% of female college students have received some type of cosmetic enhancement.

 

Parents have also contributed to the rise of plastic surgery by offering it as a graduation gift. Individuals who wish to stand out in the workforce market turn to cosmetic surgery in order to advance their competitive edge. In addition, Koreans believe that plastic surgery will increase their chances of finding a marriage partner.

 

In the district of Seoul lies Gangnam, also termed the “Beauty Belt,” surrounded by over 400 to 500 clinics and hospitals that offer cosmetic procedures and surgeries. The high supply of high-quality procedures in the market is maybe why the prices are much more affordable than in the USA. It is estimated that 40 to 50% of all plastic surgeries performed in South Korea are foreign patients.

 

Cosmetic surgery is not even a question, a moral question- is it good, is it bad?

“It simply is,” says Heather Willoughby, a professor of women’s and cultural studies at Seoul’s Ewha Womans University.

Back