Trouble brewing in South Korea's plastic surgery paradise

Sun Nov 2, 2014 1:39pm EST
 
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By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) - Kim Bok-soon disliked her nose and fantasized about getting it fixed after learning of the Korean superstition that an upturned nose makes it harder to hold on to riches.

While waiting in a hair salon, she saw a magazine advertisement for a plastic surgery clinic and decided to go for it, despite her family's objections.

In South Korea, where physical perfection is seen as a way to improve the quality of life, including job and marriage prospects, plastic surgery procedures can seem as commonplace as haircuts.

Kim's doctor said he could turn her into a celebrity lookalike, and Kim decided to take the plunge, taking loans and spending 30 million won ($28,000) for 15 surgeries on her face over the course of a day.

When the bandages came off and she looked in the mirror, she knew something had gone horribly wrong. Only later did Kim find out her doctor was not a plastic surgery specialist.

Five years later, Kim struggles with an array of medical problems, and is unable to close her eyes or stop her nose from running. The 49-year-old divorcee said she was unemployed and suffers from depression.

"It is so horrible that people can't look at my face," Kim, crying, said in her tiny one-room Seoul flat filled with photographs from before and after the surgeries.

"This is not a human face. It is more revolting than monsters or aliens."   Continued...

 
Kim Bok-soon cries during an interview with Reuters at her home in Seoul October 14, 2014.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji