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Korean Men in Grip of Plastic Surgery Craze

2006/02/09 Source

At university, Han was considered a bit of a heartthrob for his good looks, but early this month he nonetheless spent W4 million (US$4,000) on a softer chin. He is one of an increasing number of Korean men who are succumbing to the plastic surgery craze that has gripped the country.

The clinic asked him if he wanted the looks of celebrities like Jang Dong-gun or Lee Joon-gi, the star of the blockbuster "The King and the Clown", but Han insisted on a chin of his own design. Now embarked on the beautification project, he is considering more sculptural improvements once he has recovered from the operation.

A growing number of male customers are knocking on the doors of clinics, mostly to make their angular faces smoother and narrower.

At Dong Yang Plastic Surgery in Seoul's affluent Gangnam district, men now make up 40 percent of customers up from less than 10 percent in 2004. The release of the "The King and the Clown" with its celebration of androgynous beauty led to a steady trickle of at least one or two inquiries every day. The clinic's chief says the surge coincided with the rising fame of handsome actors such as Gang Dong-won, Won Bin and Jang Dong-gun.

The trend is visible everywhere. At another clinic, men used to account for barely 5 percent of chin surgeries, but the figure began to grow by an annual 10 percent from three or four years ago to 20 percent now. Men's cosmetic surgery is moving from adjusting a feature here and there toward creating a whole new look for face and body. Real for Men, a clinic specializing in plastic surgery for the boys, says nose and eye surgery still takes up the lion's share with some 82 percent, but more men are asking about chins and liposuction.

The cost is about the same as for women. It costs W4.5 million for a new chin, W2.5-3 million for a nosejob, W1.2-1.5 million for double eyelids, W5 million to reduce cheekbones, W5-7 million for belly and hip liposuction, W5 million for the implant of 2,500 hair follicles and W100,000-120,000 for skin treatment. Alarmingly, more than half of the patients are college students. Jobs that involve contact with clients such as doctors and designers take up 10 percent, office workers 9 percent, conscripts about to be discharged 8 percent and jobseekers 7 percent. Only 5 percent are trying to break into the entertainment business.

Real for Men chief Lee Sang-eun says the plastic surgery boom among men can be attributed to the emphasis on appearance in society, predicting that a craze for more androgynous looks will continue for the time being.

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