In South Korea, the face of plastic surgery is changing. Literally. In fact, it is becoming a problem, especially for customs officials. People in neighboring countries such as China or Japan have started visiting South Korea to have work done but physical changes are wreaking havoc for identification, specifically passport and traveling papers.
According to Korean sites Onboa and Munhwa (via tipster Sang), some Korean hospitals are now issuing a "plastic surgery certificate" at the request of overseas visitors. Talk about an “about face”.
In South Korea, according to a recent survey, a staggering one in five women in Seoul (the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea) had some type of cosmetic surgery procedure. A large percentage of these surgeries are performed on teenagers.
Historically, the most common procedure for most Koreans is blepharoplasty, a plastic surgery operation used for aesthetically modifying the eye region of the face. This particular type of cosmetic surgery creatures an extra fold of skin above the eye that is visible when the eyes are open. Only about 50 percent of the East Asian population is naturally born with a "double lid." There is no stigma attached to Blepharoplasty and many other plastic surgery options, partly because it is becoming so common. For example, eyelid surgery has become widespread enough in South Korea that is often deemed as comparable to beauty treatments, not surgery. For many natives of the country, eyelid surgery is considered so minimally invasive that they rarely take off work or studies to convalesce. In fact, the practice of eyelid surgery for Eastern peoples dates back to the 19th century. Documentation of blepharoplasty has been traced as early as 1896, where a Japanese physician known only as Mikamo performed the first recorded double-eyelid surgery in Japan.
With such a preponderance of face altering plastic surgery, custom officials are becoming increasing strict about making certain the body, however altered, belongs to the same person. The plastic surgery certificates claim they will assist in the efficiency of the immigration process.
According to kotaku.com, “The certificates include the patient's passport number, the length of their stay, the name and location of the hospital as well as the hospital's official seal to certify the document. Travellers can show the forms to immigration officials on their return trip home.” Reports indicate that plastic surgery certificates have already been in effect for three years but the overwhelming increase in plastic and cosmetic surgery has caused government officials to be stricter in enforcing their policies.
According to website Onbao, the number of medical tourists that came to South Korea in 2011 was 2,545 people. Last year, that number increased to 25,176 visitors.
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