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You have probably heard the famous South Korean pop song called “Gangnam Style” that was released a few years back. The number one hit single is named after the high-status neighborhood Gangnam, which is located in Seoul. However, it is also famous globally for having 500 aesthetic centers in the district alone.

In fact, South Korean’s have more plastic surgeries than any other people on this planet per capita. In 2014 alone, there were almost 1 million recorded plastic surgery operations carried out. That works out to 13 procedures / 1,000 people! That is almost double of the US which has reported 20 procedures / 1,000 people per year. More recent figures show that 1 in 5 South Koreans has had a cosmetic surgery procedure at some stage of their life.

The most popular procedures carried out in the country are double eyelid surgery, breast augmentation, and rhinoplasty. So, why are the people of South Korea so obsessed with cosmetic surgery?

Beauty is Important in Korean Culture Nowadays

Most Koreans take a lot of pride in their appearance, so it is unsurprising that many people in the country make sure that they maintain a healthy diet and take care of their bodies.

In recent years, K-pop and K-beauty have become famous in almost every country in the world. Due to this recent success, many South Korean nationals are following these beauty trendsetters. Famous people in the K-pop industry inspire plenty of people throughout the globe, especially in Korea. Most of these pop idols have perfect skin and makeup, which is one of the reasons so many Koreans decide to go under the knife. There has been a major increase in the amount of non-invasive procedures carried out too, with botox and fillers being a popular option when trying to maintain beauty.

In the past it seemed like many Asian people would have a procedure to make their appearance look more Western, however, Cosmetic Surgery trends in recent years, especially in South Korea, the idea is to enhance their Asian features.

High Standards

Seoul is one of the best places in Asia to get work done. In fact, people are traveling from all over the world to have work done in an Asian country. Often the prices are cheaper in South Korea in comparison to the prices in many countries in the West, plus, people decide to make the most of it and have a holiday while they are recovering.

The facilities and doctors, especially in the Gangnam district, are world-class. Unlike areas like Beverly Hills, top doctors in the industry are easily accessible. It seems like there is a high-end plastic surgeon on every street you walk down.

What are the Most Popular Procedures in South Korea and how much do they cost?

Whatever procedure you plan on having done, don’t worry, it is available in South Korea. Prices tend to vary so make sure to shop around before you hop on a plane. According to recent reports, here are the most popular procedures in South Korea:

  • Breast Implants
  • Rhinoplasty (work done on someone’s nose)
  • Facelifts
  • Gynecomastia Surgery: This is when the excess of a males breast is removed
  • Fat transfer
  • Tummy tucks
  • Liposuction

The price all depends on what you are having done and what surgeon you go to. Simple procedures like rhinoplasty can cost anything from $1,000 to $5,000. Breast implants can cost up to $6,000. Although it is advised, if you are planning on going to Korea to go under the knife, to get quotes from several surgeons, there are plenty of clinics that accept walk-in clients too. Unlike most clinics found in the West, they will often start the procedure after a very short medical check-up.

How can a Foreigner go about getting Plastic Surgery in South Korea?

With lots of people wanting to go to South Korea to get plastic surgery, here are 4 tips you should consider before booking a flight.

  1. Research the clinic: With so many clinics available in South Korea, many people find it a little overwhelming. If you show up in Korea without knowing the clinic you want to have your procedure in, it could prove a bit of a nightmare. Luckily, due to modern technology, you can find out lots of information about plastic surgeons in South Korea online. Korean’s tend to use social networking and web forums on a regular basis, and they are not shy to write positive or negative reviews online. Sites like RealSelf allow people to post reviews on their experience at a plastic surgeon worldwide, while PurseBlog accepts reviews on Asian-only plastic surgeons. A little bit of research online could be life-changing when it comes to something as serious as getting plastic surgery.
  2. Surgeon: Another major decision you will have to make is who will be the doctor that will take on the task. A helpful tip is to research surgeons that have plenty of experience with the specific procedure you want to have done. You will find that most plastic surgeons in South Korea specializing in just a few different treatments.
  3. Consultation: You should never have to pay for a consultation in Korea. If they ask for a fee for a consultation, perhaps it’s time to move onto a different cosmetic surgeon. In fact, you will find most of the surgeons in Korea, especially during the pandemic will offer their potential clients a free consultation online. You can send in images like ‘selfies’ to the doctor, and discuss over the internet what work you want to be carried out. A video consultation can help the surgeon understand exactly what needs to be done before you arrive in the country.
  4. Avoid booking a hotel that is far from the clinic where you plan on having your procedure, even if it is only a small amount of work. Remember, you won’t be in the best condition once the operation is complete, so returning back to your hotel room shouldn’t require a lot of effort. Consider speaking with the clinic, asking them to recommend a hotel close by. Choosing a hotel with a restaurant and good room service will help with your recovery. Having to leave to eat food can cause all sorts of problems while you are recovering.


During the global pandemic, South Korea has been very careful who they allow into the country. All visitors who enter the country will have to go into quarantine for 14 days and show proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test 72 hours prior to departure.

As there is still local transmission in the country, the government has implemented strict restrictions and regulations to help reduce the spread of the deadly virus. If you are in Korea and want some work done, expect to adhere to the rules in place in most of the surgeons including having to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Although it is possible to go to South Korea during the pandemic, most people are putting off their trip for another time, while others are opting to get their work done closer to home.

With the vaccine rollout in South Korea, people don’t expect to be wearing masks for much longer which has increased the number of people wanting to have work done. Experts believe South Koreans will spend approximately $12 billion on surgeries this year.