What is Korean plastic surgery?

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Many of us know that Korean beauty standards are a prominent feature of Korean culture. South Korea is the only East Asian country in the top 10 with the highest number of cosmetic surgeries. That’s because Korean beauty prioritizes a slim figure, a small face and lips, straight eyebrows, flawless skin, and bigger eyes. However, the beauty standards in Korea also take many influences from the media, including actresses, television personalities, and K-pop stars. Ever wonder what is Korean plastic surgery? Or were you ever interested in knowing why Koreans are obsessed with having a double eyelid? If so, don’t worry! Today, we will answer your questions. Keep reading!


When did plastic surgery become a trend in Korea?


Korean plastic surgery first appeared in South Korean beauty culture after the Korean War, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Its origin, perhaps, is a little less pleasant than many imagine. It was already American military doctors who performed double eyelid surgeries to repair the “oriental eyes” of native patients. After that, plastic surgery as a means of self-improvement became a custom throughout the peninsula. Beginning in 1974, Koreans consider cosmetic plastic surgery medical practice. That gave this rapidly growing business legal and social legitimacy.


Plastic surgery is a standard beauty procedure in Korea


Korea has one of the highest rates of plastic surgery in the world. In Seoul, 1 in 3 women has had plastic surgery. If you are in Korea and visit Gangnam Station, you will often see people who have recently had surgery as the most natural thing to do. That’s because people exercise, and wear clothing, and makeup because they try to look how they want. But in Korea, a natural extension of that is plastic surgery, as people there see it as different from makeup, exercise, or clothing. It is a quick improvement in your life. 


In addition, in South Korea, it is common for some parents to give their daughters plastic surgeries, not at 15 or 16 years old, but when they finish their studies or reach the age of majority. Also, touch-ups with a scalpel are very common. It is like the daily bread of many Koreans. It reminds us that appearance is so significant in South Korean idiosyncrasy. Korean plastic surgeries are a usual affair among Koreans. 


 Plastic surgery in Korea has excellent doctors


Because Korean plastic surgery is so famous nowadays (and thanks to the popularization of Korean fashion), plastic surgeons in Korea are highly trained people for this type of cosmetic procedure. Also, thanks to plastic surgery being common in Korea, many patients exist. It means that doctors constantly perform the same surgeries day after day. And they can become experts in their field. Although some doctors are still general plastic surgeons, the best doctors specialize in one or two procedures while still, they can do others. For example, the best breast augmentation doctor will spend 90-100% of their time performing breast augmentations or related procedures. Korean doctors work six days a week doing the same surgery over and over again. It’s like they were born ready for that.


What is the most upsetting of Korean women in plastic surgeries?


Although this practice, like that of makeup and the beauty industry in general, is not exclusively female, women are still the majority of clients in this sector. The ideal of female beauty in South Korea is highly standardized. You may have noticed that many times, some famous Koreans look like each other. That is because they follow the stereotype of beauty, whose characteristics are: large eyes, slim complexion, small nose, fair skin, and regular bust and butt.


With this ideal in mind, the most common cosmetic procedures are blepharoplasty. It also has the name of the double eyelid, which causes more striking eyes; rhinoplasty, that is, outlining the nose; mentoplasty, the definition of the chin or chin; reduction of the jaw, and, finally, liposuction and breast augmentation or reduction.


What is the most famous plastic surgery in Korea?


If you have seen Koreans up close, you may have noticed that they are not born with double eyelids like Western people are. Because of that, one of the most famous plastic surgeries in Korea is double eyelid surgery. This surgery, clinically talking, is called Asian blepharoplasty. But what is that? Many people of Asian descent have an upper eyelid without a crease, a differentiating feature known as a “single eyelid.” The size, the shape of the eyelids, and the nose present different features from the West. A specialized surgeon is the one who must perform these interventions. They will create a fold in this eyelid through a fast plastic surgery procedure. 


However, it is significant to note that the Asian patient is not looking for a Western eyelid but wants to soften their features while maintaining their Orientalism. The Asian blepharoplasty softens but does not equate the patient’s eyelids to Western attributes. It softens the racial characteristics of their gaze, where the slanted eye talks in a less accentuated way. Because of that, it is the most famous Korean plastic surgery.


Where to get plastic surgery in South Korea?


One of the most recommended places in South Korea to undergo plastic surgery is the Gangnam neighborhood in Seoul. In that neighborhood, you can find countless clinics that offer to make a double eyelid, shape the nose and reduce the jaw to give a more delicate appearance to the face, among many other surgeries. Many people, both native and foreign, visit this place in Seoul for physical alterations. In addition, about 20 percent of South Korean women have undergone some modification to make themselves more beautiful, all because South Koreans associate beauty with success and happiness. If you have an attractive face, you will have a better job and social expectations.


On the other hand, foreigners have become interested in Korean plastic surgeries thanks to the K-pop industry and television dramas. The Korean workout industry encourages Korean beauty standards, as all of its protagonists have small faces with pointed jaws, tiny noses, raised cheekbones, and wide eyes. Some people (because it is incorrect to generalize, many artists also have 100% natural beauty) achieve that appearance with a scalpel.


Is South Korea all about beauty?


South Korea is a country where appearance is still significant. But currently, there are social movements that go against the standards of Korean beauty. Because of that, the feminist movement called “Breaking the Corset” was born in Korea. Thanks to that, we can say that K-Beauty found an enemy that wants to end Korean beauty stereotypes. Breaking the corset is a South Korean feminist initiative that seeks to go against the established model that responds, mainly, to the more traditional male gaze.


The women who join this initiative stop using makeup. They opt for diverse, thicker, and more natural bodies. While in the most extreme cases, they cut their hair in the typical style of a man as a form of protest against all the beauty standards imposed by South Korean society. Maybe it is a movement that has not yet gained the necessary force to achieve a complete break with the beauty standards in the country. But without a doubt, it is a movement that is growing little by little thanks to the consequences that these standards have produced in others: damage to self-esteem and confidence, and internal problems that are often difficult to repair.


The surgery industry in Korea is so large that there is so-called plastic surgery tourism, in which they offer packages that include stays in the Asian nation. People from Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, or the United States come to the country because it is cheaper. Because of that and the quality of the procedures, many people are increasingly following Korean plastic surgeries. And that is okay. Each person owns their body and has the right to modify it to their liking. However, when looking beautiful becomes a must, beauty standards often seem unattainable. K-beauty doesn’t place as much importance on makeup as it does on skincare, but plastic surgery is a significant trend among Koreans. What do you think about that? Tell us in the comments! And don’t forget to visit us every day. In that way, you won’t miss any K-beauty and K-fashion updates!


Photo By: ABC News

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