WATCH CLIP: Do Korean women want to look more Caucasian? This Seoul plastic surgeon says yes


While Korean women have been getting plastic surgery for over a decade, now procedures to transform their entire face — not just a feature or two — are becoming more popular, as Korean women increasingly want to look more “Western.”

It may seem odd to those in the West, but the beauty standard in South Korea is too look more Caucasian and less Asian, and this plastic surgeon in Seoul says it’s normal.

More and more women are coming to his practice in Seoul to get their jawline transformed — which gives faces a more angular, less round and more “Caucasian” look, he says.

“More people are getting (jaw surgery) compared to before, and they’re also getting more nose jobs,” says Dr. Min, a leading plastic surgeon in Seoul, told Borderless News Online.

“Our country and Asia’s beauty standard is influenced by Western beauty, and because of that people are getting eyes, nose, jawline and cheekbone surgeries more,” he says, speaking of the country where the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons says has among highest per capita rates of plastic surgery worldwide.

But despite so-called double-jaw surgery being on the rise, it is not only painful, but is risky, and there have been cases in Korea in which people were unable to chew properly or smile due to nerve damage from the surgery.

But what parts people decide to get done in Korea and Asia is much different from what Western women get. Caucasian women usually focus on body surgeries, such as liposuction or breast implants, or the increasing trend of butt implants, to make women’s buttocks bigger and rounder.

Korean women, and most women in Asia who have plastic surgery, have their face done.

But at the same time, there’s a growing trend of getting body surgeries, especially breast implants and liposuction, Dr.  Min says.

“Now things are changing. Body surgeries in Korea have increased greatly,” he says, but adds that Korean women tend not to go for massive increases in bust size, as do many Western women who get breast implants. Rather, they get an enlargement that’s enough to look bigger without drawing too much attention to themselves.

Butt implants, which are on the rise in the United States, as women want to mimic certain celebrities, are not common in Korea and his clinic doesn’t do them, although some clinics in Korea do perform that procedure, he says.

While eye surgery remains the most popular operation he performs, breast implants and liposuction are becoming more popular, he says.

Dr. Min also performs “fat craft” procedures, which is taking fat from thighs and using it to mold people’s face and foreheads.

“Western people have a fuller face and that’s pretty, but Asians have a more concave face. So filling in that concave is called fat crafting, he says of an operation he regularly does.

Koreans say that many young women get plastic surgery after graduating high school or university or before they look for a job, but Dr. Min says there’s no average age for clients coming to his clinic.

“People in their 20s get surgeries to change their appearance, and people in their 40s get surgery to look younger,” he says.

Unjee and Sonny, both young women in their 20s, told Borderless that around five of their friends have had surgery to reduce the size of their face, in order to gain a more Caucasian-looking face, as having a “small face” is considered attractive in Korea.

“Some of my friends did it. About five. But that’s very expensive,” Sonny says.

Dr. Min says that as society develops, people naturally think less about survival, and more about improving their looks.

Indeed, Korea just a few decades ago was one of the world’s most impoverished countries, and had the same gross domestic product (GDP) as some impoverished African or Middle Eastern nations. But just a few decades later, the so-called Korean economic miracle changed society dramatically. No one is starving anymore, just after a few decades, and young women are among Asia’s most appearance and fashion-conscious people in Asia.

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