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    Posted on Feb 24, 2018

    Here's Why 1 In 3 South Korean Women Say They've Had Plastic Surgery

    In South Korea, beauty isn't "something to be envied, but something to be attained." —Dr. Joo Kwon

    The United States performs the most cosmetic surgeries of any country in the world, accounting for almost 18% of the global total.

    Washington Post / Getty Images

    The US is followed by Brazil, Japan, Italy, and Mexico, according to the Global Aesthetic Survey, 2017.

    However, South Korea performs the most cosmetic surgeries per capita, with approximately 20 plastic surgeries per 1,000 people, compared to the US's 13:1,000 ratio.

    Jung Yeon-Je / AFP / Getty Images

    Global Aesthetic Survey, 2015.

    In fact, about one-third of South Korean women between the ages of 19 and 29 said they have undergone cosmetic surgery before.

    JK Plastic Surgery Center / Via jkplastic.com

    And some parents even offer plastic surgery to high school students, sometimes as an encouragement to get better grades or as a graduation present.

    Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images

    Double eyelid surgery is the most common procedure performed.

    JKplastic / Via jkplastic.com

    The procedure takes 30 minutes and has a recovery time of five days, according to JK Plastic Surgery Center in Seoul.

    Seoul's Gangnam district is the place to go if you want to get work done. There's a whole section of the street with tons of plastic surgery centers.

    Bloomberg / Getty Images

    Yes, like Psy's "Gangnam Style"...oppa, oppa.

    We took a trip to JK Plastic Surgery Center, an award-winning surgery center in South Korea, to interview Dr. Joo Kwon about the current state of cosmetic surgery there.

    Here's what "Dr. JK" had to say about "SK" and the culture of beauty and cosmetic surgery.

    JK Plastic Surgery Center / Via jkplastic.com

    "South Korea is a very competitive society and people are pushed closely together. Half of South Korea’s population lives in Seoul, so we are confronted with other people’s images all the time. In addition, it is widely agreed upon that people who look better have an advantage in the job market," said Dr. Joo Kwon, CEO and founder of the JK Plastic Surgery Center.

    It's common practice to submit a headshot with your resume to companies. And some businesses have strict rules about workplace appearance.

    Bloomberg / Getty Images

    According to the Atlantic.

    "In addition, Koreans have a special attitude toward beauty. To Koreans, beauty is something that is attainable through hard work, just like anything else. Koreans see plastic surgery, and becoming prettier, as a challenge. They see beauty not as something to be envied, but something to be attained," Dr. Joo Kwon said.

    Jung Yeon-Je / AFP / Getty Images

    "However, the assumption that all Koreans are undergoing a huge amount of cosmetic surgery is a misrepresentation by Western media. It’s really more of an urban social phenomenon, than one specific to South Korea."

    JK Plastic Surgery Center / Via jkplastic.com

    Dr. Joo Kwon went on to explain that procedures’ popularity changes depending on the country of the patient.

    In the US, liposuction and aging reversals are the most common procedures.

    JKplastic / Via jkplastic.com

    While Koreans "are mostly interested in eye, nose, and facial bone-contouring surgery," he says.

    JKplastic / Via jkplastic.com

    A South Korean friend described America as having a "you do you" culture, while South Korea has a "you do you, and we do you too" culture. She said it's not uncommon for people to approach you on the street and mention "you're getting overweight" or that they will "pray for your skin to clear up" if you're having an outbreak.

    Bsip / Getty Images

    The global K-pop media craze, part of “Hallyu” or "the Korean wave," also contributes to establishing rigid beauty standards.

    Andrew Chin / Getty Images

    A K-pop girl group called Six Bomb even made a song titled "After (Getting Prettier After)," where they spent a collective $88,600 on cosmetic surgery for a music video.

    SixbombVEVO / Via youtube.com

    According to an interview they had with Korean outlet Star News.

    So is South Korea really "obsessed" with plastic surgery?

    Bloomberg / Getty Images

    Probably not, TBH. Think of it this way...

    Barcroft Media / Getty Images

    Some consider Beverly Hills to be the world capital of plastic surgery, but you wouldn't say the United States is necessarily "obsessed" with going under the knife. So even though South Korea has the highest number of procedures per capita, why would you say it is “obsessed” with plastic surgery? After all, the vast majority of South Koreans haven’t undergone any surgeries of this kind.

    So whether you're a fan of plastic surgery or the thought of it makes you cringe, one thing we can all agree on is…