A number of Chinese women who suffered botched plastic surgery operations performed in Korea have been protesting on the streets in Seoul, denouncing the shady intermediaries and hospitals responsible.
According to Tencent, the women have spent the past two days standing at Myeong-dong, one of Seoul’s most prominent shopping districts, holding up posters illustrating their plight in graphic detail. They hope to draw the attention of the Korean government and prevent others from ending up in the same situation.
The protesters say that they were mistreated throughout the process and claim that at one stage the hospital locked them in a dark room, had their passports seized and that they were arrested by police.
According to recent data, in 2014 a total of 56,000 people visited Korea in order to undergo plastic surgery. More are expected to arrive this year, although the Chinese Association of Plastics and Aesthetics cautions against going abroad for medical treatment.
In a report released in March, the organisation claims that the proportion of Chinese tourists encountering incidents or disputes while seeking treatment in Korea has risen by between 10 to 15 percent each year for the past three years. However given the blatant conflict of interest, we’re treating these figures with a caution.
For some of the protesters, this is not their first time coming to Korea to demonstrate. Zhou Jun originally came to undergo a 2-jaw surgery, but afterwards found that her teeth were out of alignment and to this day she has not been able to eat food normally.
She has protested outside the hospital four times, and although she says that under Korean law it is perfectly legal to do so, claims that hospital staff have sought to intimidate her, stealing her phone and violently harassing her.
With Chinese tourists now constituting 70 percent of the inbound plastic surgery market, the Korean government will likely have to step in and provide some facility by which to mediate these disputes.
But for now, we can’t help but think that their protest might have more of an impact on the local audience if the posters were printed in Korean rather than Chinese.