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Cosmetic, beauty treatments most popular among foreigners
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.10.10 15:29
  • Updated 2017.10.10 15:29
  • comments 0

Almost 50,000 foreign patients got plastic surgery in Korea last year, which topped the list of revenue sources in medical tourism for the sixth consecutive year, government statistics showed Friday.

Revenue from cosmetic surgery totaled 221.1 billion won ($193.9 million), accounting for 26 percent of total revenue attributable to foreigners. The 2016 income indicates a 39-times increase from 2009, a Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed.

Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare

When skin care is included, 95,221 foreigners got “beauty” treatments with the number of Chinese patients increasing notably. Data showed the number of Chinese getting plastic surgery jumped 35-fold from 791 people in 2009 to 27,646 last year.

According to departments by popularity, internal medicine came in first with 85,075 people (20 percent), cosmetic surgery second with 47,881 (11.3 percent), dermatology third with 47,340 (11.1 percent), and physical check-ups fourth with 39,743 (9.3 percent).

Government’s efforts to attract foreign patients – pushed by ousted President Park Geun-hye – have led to a heavy reliance on the cosmetic surgery, according to Rep. Nam In-soon of the ruling Democratic Party.

“The number of foreigners getting plastic surgery in Korea has increased annually, deepening the country’s reliance on beauty and cosmetic treatment,” Rep. Nam said. “Although diplomatic strains partly stalled the inflow of Chinese patients, Korea’s reliance on Chinese medical tourists has reached its highest of 35 percent.”

Nam called for the Moon administration to thoroughly review the government project of attracting foreigners by shifting its marketing focus to cutting-edge medical technology for surgery and treating serious diseases.


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