The Korean Celebrities Attracting Foreigners to Plastic Surgery Clinics

In 2012, nearly 150,000 inbound travelers went under the knife in Korea to sharpen their edge in looks. Industry researchers were baffled by this growth, which represented a 100% increase, so they began to digging into factors behind the acceleration. “More than 60 percent of these patients are Chinese nationals, while there was a steep rise in the number of patients coming from countries such as the United States, Japan, Singapore and Europe,” according to the Korea Tourism Organization.

Analysts said there is still room for continued growth over the next few years and attributed a lot of the momentum to  “Hallyu or the Korean wave.” They said, “those impressed with Korean films or TV dramas jump onto flights bound for Seoul and end up knocking on the doors of cosmetic clinics to get their faces or figures transformed like their beloved stars.” In other words, Korea’s best spokespeople for cosmetic surgery are its celebrities. The article interviewed two popular plastic surgeon’s into Seoul and asked, who do their foreign patients want to look like:

Who do Chinese patients want to like?

According to Yoo Sang-wook, president of Grand Plastic Surgery in Sinsa-dong, Gangnam, citing hospital statistics from Chinese patients – “Actress Han Ga-in has the most wanted face among Chinese patients, followed by that of Song and singer Sulli of the five-member girl band f(x).”




But according to Park Won-jin, head of Wonjin Aesthetic Surgery Clinic his Chinese patients preferred the eye shape of Song Hye-kyo, actress Lee Da-hey and Park Min-young, while Han Ga-in is well recognized for her high-bridged nose.



Who do Vietnamese patients want to look like?

“The dominant view of Vietnamese patients is that of actress Kim Tae-hee, has the most attractive face, followed by Song and Han, said Yoo Sang-wook, president of Grand Plastic Surgery. Unlike Chinese, Southeast Asian people who prefer a face with somewhat “strong and energetic” impressions.



Who do Japanese patients want to look like?

“Yoo explained that Japanese people normally feel attracted to a face with “soft and mild” impressions such as that of singer Yoona of top-tier girl band Girls’ Generation.  Reflecting this, he said Yoona is considered to have the most adored face among Japanese visitors to his hospital, followed by signer Goo Hara of idol girl band KARA and actress Choi Ji-woo.”



Dr. Park commented that a few years ago patients literally requested an entire facial transformation to look like their favorite stars, but notices nowadays people are leaning towards specific enhancements for certain areas.

“Initially, it was very easy to find foreigners who brought me photos of their most beloved Korean celebrity and asked to change everything to become his/her look-alike. Nowadays a growing number of people want to change a specific part of their face or body, instead of total makeovers. Furthermore, there are more patients who are worried about the possibility that he or she will end up looking unnatural due to the doctored parts,” said Park.

Our Opinion: 

A ‘patient-fan’ of Korean celebrity plastic surgery wanting to become a star’s body double can raise some concerns. It brings into question the patient’s ability to have reasonable expectations for cosmetic surgery, especially if they are on a pursuit to be a celebrity look-alike. State-of-mind plays a big role in surgery satisfaction, and patients who have a better understanding of the process and reasonable expectations tend to be happier after a successful surgery. We have seen patients casually choose doctors simply because they mentioned they can make them look like _____ celebrity. If the patient becomes fixated with this idea, then they might set themselves up for major disappointment, even if their results are actually great – they may be dissatisfied because they still don’t exactly look like their idol. Even worse is having a failed procedure by not screening doctors properly and simply choosing the surgeon who reaffirmed a celebrity transformation wish.

There is no 100% guarantee a patient will look exactly how they imagine themselves to be after surgery, and in this case, imagining to look like Korean celebrities. It seems that patients are changing their preferences now according to Park by seeing surgery as an enhancement and or aesthetic correction of specific areas as opposed to the ultimate fan transformation to become their idols.

So if all these foreign patients mentioned in the article want to look like Korean celebrities, which foreign celebrities do Koreans want to look like?ku-xlarge


Korean woman who desired to be transformed into Miranda Kerr via plastic surgery.

Original Article: “Celebs fuel plastic surgery tourism”

‘Foreign fans of Korean films or TV dramas visit Seoul to knock on the doors of cosmetic clinics and get them transformed like their beloved stars.’ – The Korea Times – By Park Si-soo

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