South Korea is known for its high standards of beauty, and in recent years the country has become a hub for plastic surgery. On a per capita basis, some experts estimate that more plastic surgery procedures are performed in South Korea than any other country on the planet. Given the country's obsession with appearance, it shouldn't come as a surprise that people with scars or physical deformities often have a hard time finding work, making friends and assimilating into the culture. These challenges can be especially difficult for North Korean defectors, who often carry visible signs of the hardships they've had to endure.
As you probably know, North Korea is home to one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. Consequently, many defectors from the country bear scars from abuse, rough working conditions or as a result of their escape into South Korea. Unfortunately, these visible imperfections can make life in their new home difficult.
In a culture where physical appearance is paramount, scars and deformities immediately mark North Korean defectors as outsiders. According to studies, North Koreans have a more difficult time finding gainful employment than their native counterparts, and even when they do, it's typically for lower-paying, menial positions. Additionally, this feeling of otherness can also take a mental toll, causing defectors from the north to suffer from depression, anxiety and a sense of isolation.
In order to combat this growing problem, plastic surgeons in South Korea are donating their time and abilities in order to help defectors from the north. One program, based in Seoul, has gathered together a number of top cosmetic surgeons from an area called Gangnam, which is tantamount to Seoul's version of Beverly Hills. Packed tightly along the streets of Gangnam are more then 500 plastic surgery centers within a single square mile, with many of these establishments stacked right on top of one another.
With this many plastic surgeons on hand, it's no surprise than many of them are devoting their time to this worthy cause. In addition to eliminating the appearance of scars and correcting physical abnormalities, the cosmetic surgeons are also helping North Koreans get rid of their tattoos, which are generally frowned upon in South Korean culture. Ultimately, the goal of these pro bono surgical programs is to remove any type of marker or malformation that inhibits defectors in South Korean society.
To date, dozens of these free surgeries have been performed, but there is still a lot of work to be done. At present, there are more than 28,000 North Korean defectors living in the south, and many of them still need help assimilating into their new home.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about plastic surgery, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!