For weary test-takers, plastic surgery deals

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For weary test-takers, plastic surgery deals

Hey students, now that the grueling College Scholastic Ability Test is over, how about treating yourself and your mom to some discounted facial improvements?

Some plastic surgery hospitals are offering students reduced rates for plastic surgery for the eyes and nose, and free Botox injections for mothers.

A plastic surgery hospital in Apgujeong, Gangnam, Seoul, posted a notice on Nov. 9 on its homepage, saying: “We are giving a present to mothers who had a tough time with their children for the Collage Scholastic Ability Test - if a student has two plastic surgeries for eyes and nose at the same time, we will provide a free Botox shot for the mother’s wrinkles near the eyes or brow.”

As a reward for students who have been stuck for several years spending long hours in classrooms to prepare for the test, it has become a custom for some Korean parents to reward their children with plastic surgery. Most students, observers said, want to have double eyelid surgery, which makes eyes look bigger and clearer - especially popular with girls - and some of them have their noses reshaped to make them look more like Westerners.

“We already had a long reservation list with names of students even before they took the test,” said a manager at one hospital that promoted the Botox package.

According to the hospital, if a student wants two plastic surgeries for eyes and nose - which normally cost 1.2 million won ($1,054) for the eyes and 2.5 million won for the nose - the total fee for both is 2.8 million won, a savings of 900,000 won.

Hospitals in Samsung-dong, Seoul and U-dong, Haeundae District, Busan, are offering 50 percent discounts on surgery for students.

And plastic surgery isn’t the only thing being promoted. An oriental medicine clinic in Banpo-dong, Seoul, has proposed a package for complexion problems and breast care, using acupuncture and massages. The hospital said the package is 1.1 million won cheaper than having each procedure done separately.

But some are skeptical of the promotions. One mother, for instance, said the promotions lure students for a deal that’s not truly a deal.

“Honestly, I doubt that the hospitals really give true discounts,” said Park Eun-suk, a 49-year old mother in Gamsil, Seoul. Kim Tae-hyun, head of the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, said he was suspicious of the discounts.

“I think some plastic surgery hospitals are disguising [the cost] by increasing the original price of the surgery and pretending to give a discount on it,” Kim said.

Medical laws call for three years of jail or a 1 million won fines for any acts related to inducing people intentionally to a specific hospital.

But plastic surgery hospitals have not yet been punished for their excessive promotions, because the surgery is not covered by medical insurance, leaving no official records about the promotions.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare also said that it is difficult to determine whether discount coupons or booklets promoting the surgery are regarded as an inducement.


By Song Ji-hye [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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