Critics tear into plastic surgery show

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Critics tear into plastic surgery show

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“Let Me In,” hosted by a team of MCs including famous actress Hwang Sin-hye (second from left), says it’s goal is to help women who have issues with their appearance regain confidence and achieve happiness. [Ilgan Sports]

“Let Me In,” a show where women who are dissatisfied with their appearance compete to receive plastic surgery, kicked off its latest season on CJ E&M channels tvN and StoryOn over the weekend, refueling criticism that it is encouraging Korean women to go under the knife.

The first episode of the fifth season, which aired last Friday, introduced Go Su-bin, 20, who suffers from extreme hair loss. In the “after” scene, the highlight of the program where the woman appears looking gorgeous and confident post-makeover, Go came out with a conspicuously larger nose and a wig on, as the hair loss was still in the process of being fixed.

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The first participant in the new season of highly controversial show “Let Me In” was Go Su-bin, who was suffering from extreme hair loss. [Screen capture]

“Go’s problem was hair loss, but she got her nose done,” said Lee Yun-so, the director general of the media department at Korean Womenlink, a women’s rights civic group. “By conducting unnecessary cosmetic surgeries, the show is encouraging women to go under the knife.”

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She was shown at the end of the episode with an altered nose and wearing a wig, right, as her hair loss problem had not yet been rectified, triggering criticism that the show is encouraging unnecessary plastic surgery. [Screen capture]

This response was expected. Civic groups, including Korean Womenlink, held a press conference in front of CJ E&M in Sangam-dong, eastern Seoul, last Friday ahead of the season’s debut, calling on CJ to terminate the show they say is tantamount to “a one-hour ad for plastic surgery.”

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She was shown at the end of the episode with an altered nose and wearing a wig, right, as her hair loss problem had not yet been rectified, triggering criticism that the show is encouraging unnecessary plastic surgery. [Screen capture]

“‘Let Me In’ fails to disclose the negative aspects of cosmetic surgery and promotes the fantasy that your life can be much better through plastic surgery,” the groups said in a statement. “Although the program falls into the category of a television show, one cannot deny the fact that the program is advertising cosmetic surgery.”

In response to the latest criticism, the series’ production team emphasized that cosmetic surgery is just one of many means used in the show to boost women’s confidence and that it isn’t the intention to encourage going under the knife. According to the team, which parts of the face or body the woman will alter is decided after consultations with plastic surgeons and the production team doesn’t interfere.

In a phone interview with Ilgan Sports, a Korea JoongAng Daily affiliate, earlier this week, the show’s producer Park Hyeon-wu said he finds it regrettable how “problems that don’t have to do with the program’s intent are creating a buzz.”

He added, “While the show’s panel were discussing the general issues with Go’s appearance, they realized that the ridge of her nose is pretty much nonexistent .?.?. The consultation process extensively dealt with the problem with the nose, but because the hair loss was a bigger issue it became the episode’s focus on TV.”

Park explained that the hair-loss treatment is still ongoing and that it takes six months for new hair to grow.

“Unrelated to the program, we will continue our support so that Go continues to get therapy,” he said, adding that contestants who took part in seasons two and three “are still undergoing treatment.”

Still, the operation on Go’s nose goes against the promise Yang Jin-won, a psychotherapist and one of the panelists on the show, made during the press event last Thursday.

Yang said the new season would “help those suffering from appearance issues form normal abilities to interact in public within boundaries so that they experience no inconvenience in their social life.”

Critics are questioning whether Go’s low nose ridge really hampered her ability to engage with others and society, with some even suspecting “Let Me In” is trying to encourage negative publicity with its latest season.

“Let Me In” began in 2011 and alleges that applicants’ lives can be changed “through healing and growth.”

“Mi-in” in Korean means “a beautiful woman.” A panel of doctors, psychotherapists, stylists, physical trainers and celebrities attempt to help boost the egos of the women who appear on the show and fix their problems with makeovers.

Lee of Womenlink told Ilgan Sports that the latest show at least got rid of the information about the plastic surgery featured in the program, including the price, from its official website.

BY KIM JIN-SEOK, KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]
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