Sunday, 23 November 2014

KTO's Medical Tourism Information Desk

Whenever I see somebody walking around downtown Seoul, or inside E-Mart (!), with her nose and her chin covered with bandage, I no longer assume that she was trying on a Halloween mask. After all, Halloween was just a few weeks ago. She or he (but mostly it's a she) just had plastic surgery and isn't ashamed to show it off to the world. 
                         (The Tourism Information Center)

The plastic surgery industry is booming in South Korea. Why? Because everyone here is obsessed with their appearance and having plastic surgery is sort of a status symbol. Try visiting the Sinsa Station in the Gangnam District in Seoul. Plastered on the walls of this subway station are posters of the 'before' and 'after' faces of models who had plastic surgery. If you want to see a few of those posters, the photos are here in a blog I wrote a year ago.

And since it's not only the locals who are visiting these plastic surgery clinics, the Korea Tourism Organization near Cheonggyecheon has an information desk, specifically for international tourists and foreigners living in Korea, where they can obtain information about the clinics and hospitals that can provide the surgical or medical attention they need. The Medical Tourism Information Center desk is attended to by Miss Bo-Yung Choi and her assistant.

Though most of the questions they get are about plastic surgery, they also provide information on several clinics and hospitals which have their own specialties on different kinds of medical conditions. According to Miss Choi, this desk is just a bridge between the patient and the medical institution. 

Although it's basically an information desk, this corner of the Tourism Information Center of the Korea Tourism Organization has several testing machines, a display of medicinal herbs, and a shelf full of brochures of several plastic surgery clinics and medical institutions. I leafed through some brochures and found some 'after' photos suspect, and seemed mislabelled. Although it was understandable to see the photos of Roy Kim getting a facial in a brochure, I wondered why is Beyonce's photo was in it. Hmm.

Last year, my friend Jeannie, who lived in Hong Kong, called to tell me that she had a friend who was flying to Seoul for plastic surgery in Gangnam, and that she gave her my number so that I could show her around. Even though I told Jeannie that I would be glad to, I wasn't sure if I'd be showing her friend around before or after the surgery. Although I thought it would have been very interesting to see her friend before and after the 'work' was done; I'd like to see the transformation.

But Jeannie's friend never called. I should have told Jeannie that, no matter what, I promise not to feature her friend in my blog. Before, or even after. Ha-ha-ha! 

So, I wonder whether Jeannie's friend actually visited the Medical Tourism Information Desk before her surgery for some referral. But if you're visiting Korea not just to shop, but also for some 'nip and tuck' (I miss that TV series, Nip/Tuck), or if you just want to seek medical advice from Korean medical practitioners, you might want to visit Korea's medical tourism site first:

Good luck and I hope to bump into you in downtown Seoul still with your bandages!

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