Korea & Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery to create 'Western' eyes for Korean children?


The definition of pretty, explains their plastic surgeon, is not the standard Asian face, but closer to a Caucasian face. Dr Kim Byung-gun is the head of Seoul, South Korea's biggest plastic surgery clinic, BK DongYang. The clinic is a dozen stories tall, with all of its operating rooms full on the day of Min kyong's surgery.

Dr Kim says his clinic, one of the most successful in a city dubbed the "plastic surgery capital of Asia," performs 100 surgeries a day, ranging from eyelid surgery to nose reshaping to facial contouring.

The Chinese and Korean patients tell me they want to have faces like Americans
--Dr Kim Byung-gun

"They always tell me they don't like their faces," says Dr Kim, explaining what his patients request prior to surgery. "They want to have some westernized, nice faces. They want to have big eyes like westernized people, high profile, nicer noses.

"The Chinese and Korean patients tell me that they want to have faces like Americans. The idea of beauty is more westernized recently. That means the Asian people want to have a little less Asian, more westernized appearance. They don't like big cheekbones or small eyes. They want to have big, bright eyes with slender, nice facial bones."

The surgeries, already popular among Koreans, are booming among newly rich, globally competitive, mainland Chinese, explains Dr Kim. About 30% of his patients are international and of that group, 90% are Chinese. It's why he speaks Mandarin and is partnering with two clinics in China.

"We can see potential huge growth, with the number of patients from China. The Chinese people want to have the westernized face. They don't like their faces. They have big cheekbones, big mandible angle without double fold, and a low profile nose. They are seeking to have westernized face, high profile nose, slender nice cheekbone, and mandible bone."

Dr Kim believes in the global economy, investing in plastic surgery to slightly westernize the face will bring a return on the investment of 100 times, through more confidence, a better job and obtaining a better marital partner.

A global ideal doesn't stop at the face, says dental surgeon Jung Hak. Dr Jung says he's been fighting a trend. Korean mothers who have been bringing in their toddlers to have the muscle under the tongue that connects it to the bottom of the mouth surgically snipped.

The belief, explains Dr Jung, is that it will help a Korean speak English more clearly. People from the Asia Pacific region have difficulty in pronouncing the "L" sound, says Dr Jung. But he calls the surgery, if it's only for pronunciation, misguided, and caused by the hyper-competitive drive in Korea.

"For 10 years, there's been this crazy drive for early English education. Mothers long for their kids to have better English pronunciation," says Dr Jung.

(Bold copy mine)