South Korea: The World’s Plastic Surgery Capital

“The Plastic Surgery Capital”

One of the negative images that South Korea has worldwide is that the nation has such a high beauty standard, resulting in numerous Korean women having to undergo plastic surgery at least once in their lifetime.

A scene from the film ‘200 Pounds Beauty’ where the main character is about to see her “new face” after undergoing full-body plastic surgery.

“Do all Korean women really undergo plastic surgery?”

Here are some statistics.

  • According to the World Population Review, South Korea has the highest plastic surgery rate.
  • The most common plastic surgery Koreans get is double eyelid surgery.
  • Out of 3,500 people living in Korea, 22.5% of women and 2.1% of men said that they have undergone plastic surgery, according to the data from the Korean Statistical Information Service in 2020.
  • The number of plastic surgery clinics nationwide has steadily increased. There were a total of 1,106 officially registered clinics in 2022.

“Some Do, But Not Everyone”

The statistics show that about 1 out of 5 people undergo plastic surgery in Korea.

It’s quite common for people to consider and undergo plastic surgery, but we have to understand that not everyone is “obsessed” with plastic surgery, like what some media portray South Korea to be like.

“How Common is Plastic Surgery in Korea?”

Plastic surgery is as common as a graduation gift for high school students. It’s not unusual for parents to give their children plastic surgery during vacation or after graduation as a gift.

It’s also common for college students to work part-time jobs to save up money for plastic surgery so that they can look more “competitive” when looking for jobs.


There are so many societal, cultural factors that explain the high number of plastic surgeries in Korea. However, one of the most obvious reasons is HIGH BEAUTY STANDARDS.

We can’t deny that Korean society tends to have a certain beauty standard without having variety or diversity.

“But Why Are There These High Beauty Standards in Korea?”

This is a hard question to answer, but many people believe that the closer they get to Korean beauty standards, the easier their lives will become.

Here are some more statistics.

According to the survey by Gallup Korea, (out of 1,500 people)

  • 88% of men and 91% of women said that one’s appearance matters in their lives.
  • 73% of women and 59% of men said that they can do plastic surgery to get a job or get married.

“Flying to Korea to Get it Done”

It’s not only Koreans who get their surgeries done in plastic surgery clinics. A lot of people from different countries fly to Korea to undergo plastic surgeries as well.

In 2019, before the pandemic, 90,494 foreign patients visited Korea for plastic and cosmetic surgery (Statistica). A few of the most visited countries include China, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States.

Also, the size of the Korean cosmetic surgery market makes up 25% of the global market.

Today’s Question:

What’s your opinion on getting plastic surgeries? How does your country in general perceive ‘plastic surgery’?

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