Business / Industries

Sharp rise in seeking the trendy South Korean 'idol' look

By Emma Gonzalez and Lu Haoting (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-08 07:06

"For us, it was like any other regular trip," she said, almost too casually. "We went sightseeing, we did lots of shopping and enjoyed eating out.

"The only difference is that we came back looking better."

Not every cosmetic tourist trip, however, works out as well.

According to figures from CAPA, the number of reported cases of surgeries involving Chinese nationals going wrong in South Korea is also worryingly on the rise, growing about 10-15 percent last year, according to some estimates.

The South Korean government has already announced a crackdown on illegal brokers and unregistered clinics in response to a rising number of complaints.

Last year, officials launched an online registration service, available in Chinese, Japanese and English, offering potential patients a list of vetted hospitals considered as providing reliable beauty surgery, said Oki Kang, Korea Tourism Organization's executive director.

"We are trying to create a reliable marketplace for hospitals and patients," said Kang.

"By giving more precise information on registered hospitals, the government has tried to minimize the risks of patients being cheated by illegal agents or brokers."

For those unwilling to travel abroad but still interested in employing a South Korean surgeon, meanwhile, clinics have also started opening in China, staffed by professionals from South Korea.

Last year, 37 South Korean-owned plastic surgery clinics opened in the mainland, according to CAPA.

At The Sino-Korean Aesthetic Hospital in Beijing, for instance, there are three South Korean surgeons and two Chinese doctors.

The hospital refused to disclose the number of patients it currently has on its books, but judging by the number of woman filling in patient information forms in its lobby one lunchtime last week, business appears to be going well.

At the nearby Gaga Plastic Surgery Clinic, however, one of the receptionists happily spoke out, proudly, of the South Korean doctors working there.

"All the surgeons that work in this clinic are South Korean," she said.

"Our patients choose this medical center over others because of the good reputation of South Korean doctors."

Zhang Yitao also contributed to this story.

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