What makes Chinese tourists come to Korea for cosmetic surgery to account for the largest portion of foreign visitors to do so?
A recent paper has drawn the industry’s attention by attempting to answer the question analyzing Chinese people’s motivation for embarking on medical tourism to do plastic surgery, including their internal and external values.
Professor Kim Eun-hee 김은희 of Mokwon University released the study on “Chinese people’s motivation and selection attributes concerning medical tour for cosmetic surgery,” meeting 30 Chinese, including 15 university students, living in Beijing.
The study divided the motivation into three values: external (“becoming beautiful,” “supplementing weakness,” etc.), surgery and tourism (“convenience from taking trips and pursuing beauty at the same time,” or “having surgery in secret during travels”), and internal (“relationship,” “enhancing self-esteem,” and “improving the quality of daily life”).
The analysis showed people who valued interpersonal influence put a bigger emphasis on the external value.
This group placed importance on “medical superiority (system, technological level, doctors’ expertise and reliability),” “after-surgery services,” “medical costs,” and the “quality of the medical tour.”
People motivated by surgery and tour values tended to ask help from their friends in deciding cosmetic surgery trips and wanted to know what their acquaintances found most impressive. This group evaluated “superior hospital systems” and “expertise and reputation.”
People who thought intrinsic values as important emphasized a sense of belonging by selecting the same cosmetic surgery tour products as others’.
Also, respondents who emphasize to cost factors, such as medical bills and insurance benefits, got the information about cosmetic surgery visits from their friends or asked help to others for the selection before buying a product.
"Because of economic growth and value shift in China, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea for the cosmetic surgery has increased steadily,” Professor Kim said. “To maintain the trend, it is the right time to work out marketing strategies for the tour programs fitting their culture, customs, and other characteristics.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW)보건복지부 said the number of Chinese patients totaled 127,648, accounting for 35.1 percent of all foreign patients coming to Korea last year. Among them, 27,646 Chinese tourists came to Korea for the cosmetic surgery.
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