It is a well-documented fact that South Korea is the plastic surgery mecca of the world. Some hotels, such as the Ritz-Carlton Seoul, have even partnered with hospitals to offer an $88,000 “anti-aging beauty package.”
Korean surgeons, some of the best in the world, have mastered the art of transforming faces to the extent that special certificates have to be issued to prove the patients’ identity.
Although foreigners from different countries travel to South Korea for such cosmetic procedures, Chinese visitors account for almost half of the patients in some of Korea's top plastic surgery centers – stats that are great for Korean tourism but increasingly causing problems at airports in China.
According to recent reports, some women have been stopped at passport control at Chinese airports because they were noted to have bigger eyes, smaller noses and slimmer chins compared to their passport photographs.
“After they took off their huge hats and big sunglasses following our request, we saw them looking different, with bandages and stitches here and there,” Shanghai Hongqiao Airport officer Chen Tao told China Daily newspaper.
The before-and-after images of the drastic transformations have gone viral on Chinese social media. China-based news and lifestyle blog “Shanghaiist” has published some examples:
Liu Yi, a 25-year-old office manager for real estate sales in Guiyang, had double eyelid surgery and planted eyelash extensions.
Above are 22-year-old twins, students from Nanning, who changed their matching “snub noses, round faces, eyes and acne.”
22-year-old broker Yan Xu from Xiamen had multiple surgeries done on herself, including a nose job, chin implants and Intense Pulsed Light skin treatments.
Yang Jiayi, a 21-year-old clerk from Beijing changed the shape of her eyes, hadV-line surgery and got multiple Botox injections.
30-year-old magazine editor from Guangzhou Lu Ying got breast implants and underwent several other facial reconstructions.
However, as attractive as post-op photos may appear, people would do well to remember that corrective and enhancing plastic surgeries – such as the ones above – are extremely lengthy, painful and risky procedures.
Kim Bok, who spent around $35,000 on 15 different surgeries five years ago, still 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 told Asia One she was unemployed and suffers from depression.
"It is so horrible that people can't look at my face," Kim, said. "This is not a human face. It is more revolting than monsters or aliens."