Let Me In or Let 美人 is a South Korean plastic surgery television program that airs on a local cable network called ‘Story On,’ which is operated by CJ Entertainment. The title is a Chinese/English pun from the characters for beautiful 美 (sounds like ‘me’) and person 人 (sounds like ‘in’). It is a reality makeover style show that is a combination of Swan meets Cinderella meets Pimp my Ride with a Korean twist. The show premiered on 2 December 2011 and has been met with both acclaim and condemnation by locals in Korea.
The basic premise of the program is that women, and most recently, men, come to plead their case for surgery in front of a panel of hosts – A Korean TV drama starlet, an internet shopping mall CEO and three stylists.
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Let Me in Korean plastic surgery show hosts – Top: Left to Right – Hwang Shin Hye (actress), Kim Jun Hui (online shopping mall CEO), Lee Kyong Min (makeup artist), Teh Yang (hair designer), Shin Woo Shik (stylist).
If picked he or she will then receive a free cosmetic surgery and makeover by a team of doctors and stylists who have volunteered to be on the program. In exchange for the free services, the patient/candidate essentially waves all their image rights and can be used in a wide variety of before and after plastic surgery advertising, which are usually plastered all over Gangnam station sinage displays and billboards (Seoul’s Time Square) as well as internet ads and commercials in movie theaters right before the trailers. That also gives the doctor’s incentive to provide in-kind services because TV commercials for plastic surgery are banned in Korea, but a TV show about plastic surgery isn’t, allowing for an indirect loop hole to get their name out in front of a TV audience.
The doctors on the show are among the most well-known surgeons in Gangnam. For example, Dr. Park of ID Hospital, is a staple of the show and he’s become famous for inventing and coining the term for “V-Line” surgery, which is mandibular reduction operation that cuts and contours sides of the lower jaw bone to produce a smaller V shaped one. This is a popular facial trait in Korean beauty standards.
Critics claim that the show further desensitizes the public to dramatic and unnecessary cosmetic surgery procedures and degrades Korean society’s decorum, dignity and modesty down to narcissism, lookism and vanity. While those who applaud the show see it as a charitable way to help people overcome aesthetic barriers beyond their control to achieve a higher quality of life. The term ‘aesthetic barrier’ may raise eyebrows with several people, especially those not acquainted with some antiquated aspects of Korean culture, but for many locals, it is widely understood that ones appearance plays a factor in success in a hyper competitive game of life.
Here is a look at ‘Let Me In’s” most popular candidate from Season 2. She is literally the poster child of the show and can be seen on major subway station, bus and outdoor signage ads highlighting her before and after transformation and promoting ID Hospital.
Let Me In Korean plastic surgery show contestant.
There is often a home silhouette piece in each episode that shows the candidate’s personal life and features emotional interviews with the candidate’s parents. Often times the parents feel they are to blame for their child’s aesthetic suffering.
Candidates often burst into tears to plead their case with emotional pain and turmoil. They often go into stories of bullying, shame, embarrassment and withdrawal from everyday life.
This candidate had a severe under bite and over sized lower jaw. This condition also poses functional issues, so surgery in her case improves both function and form.
The candidate is then shown going back to her daily life with her friends complimenting her and at times not even recognizing the new her at first glance. Several of her female friends comment they also want surgery as well after seeing her results.
Dr. Park of ID Hospital
The show then leads to a dramatic reveal built up with teasers, and a virtual before self is placed side by side with the new self and the new waves goodbye to the old.
The episode closes with a happy ending and highlights the new and instilled confidence of the candidate and her feelings of a higher quality of life.
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