Friday, July 1, 2016

Cosmetic Surgery Demand from China Slows Down in Seoul

South Korea is experiencing a decline in cosmetic surgery demand after a four-minute news report by state-run news agency China Central Television earlier this year exposed a case of a tourist from China being overcharged by a cosmetic surgery clinic in Gangnam, Seoul.

CCTV claimed that Chinese clients are usually charged 2 to 10 times more than locals, eventually causing them to stop seeking surgery in the country, according to the Korea Herald.

Based on Ministry of Health and Welfare records, more than 36,000 foreigners underwent cosmetic surgeries in Korea in 2014. More than half of those foreigners (56 percent) opted to received treatment in Gangnam-based clinics. However, in 2015, the figure plunged 40 percent to 12,000 patients.

While most clinic owners claim that the sudden drop is due to the outbreak of respiratory syndrome in Middle East in 2015, experts say it is because of customers' dissatisfaction. One woman who refused to be identified also cited overcharging, unqualified surgeons performing the operation, and communication barriers that cause customers to fall into the hands of illegal brokers.

Experts pointed to South Korea's lax rules for medical practitioners. "There is currently no regulation or standard that supervises or checks the status of facilities and equipment at private clinics," Kwon Young-dae, director of public relations for the Korean Board of Plastic Surgeons told The Korea Herald.

Also, an official from the government-run Gangnam Medical Tour Center said they "cannot fully guarantee that all cosmetic clinics we are partnered with operate surgeries under certified doctors. It is actually difficult to monitor all of them."

The South Korean government, on the other hand, committed to take necessary actions to support foreign patients undergoing procedures in Korea and allowing them to reclaim 10 percent of value-added taxes. It will also cap the commissions agents can charge to avoid illegal brokers from influencing the fixed cost of the surgery.

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