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Chasing Eternal Youth in Seoul’s Beauty Belt

Aesthetics Hub | 23 Apr 2013

Beauty Belt, a stretch of downtown Seoul that’s home to more than 200 cosmetic-surgery clinics. After decades of widening Korean eyes and reshaping Korean noses, Seoul is famous as the most “remade” city on the planet. Now the Beauty Belt is an international tourist attraction, luring an estimated 150,000 extra visitors to Seoul last year alone, nearly double the 82,000 medical tourists who came in 2010.

And what the 50-year-old with the auburn-dyed hair wants now is wider eyes, without the surrounding wrinkles. Maybe new breasts, too.

That’s why Ms. Liu came to South Korea. “Korean cosmetic surgery is the most famous in the world. Everybody wants to go to get their cosmetic surgery done here,” she says, draped in a blue dressing gown after a consultation at the premier BK Plastic Surgery Hospital. “Also, you can do some tourism after.”

They call it the Beauty Belt, a stretch of downtown Seoul that’s home to more than 200 cosmetic-surgery clinics. After decades of widening Korean eyes and reshaping Korean noses, Seoul is famous as the most “remade” city on the planet. Now the Beauty Belt is an international tourist attraction, luring an estimated 150,000 extra visitors to Seoul last year alone, nearly double the 82,000 medical tourists who came in 2010.

It’s an all-looks lifestyle that South Korean singer Psy mocked in his runaway hit song Gangnam Style, written about the neighbourhood in which the Beauty Belt is located. And not even the threat of a war, which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeatedly warned is imminent, can keep the cosmetic-surgery tourists away any more.

Most of those who come to Seoul for double-eyelid surgery – an eye-widening procedure that’s most popular with Beauty Belt customers – are Chinese.

They’re here because they’ve seen Korean singers and movie stars on their television sets and computer screens and want to look more like their heroines (95 per cent of the patients at the BK clinic are women). It’s something they can’t imagine when watching Hollywood actresses.

Read more at The Globe and Mail

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