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Illegal Agencies Dominate S Korean Plastic Surgery Market for Oversea Tourists
   2015-03-30 13:33:30    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Qian Shanming

A group of Chinese women, who claim they have been left disfigured by shoddy plastic surgery in South Korea, wait in a clinic room in Beijing for treatment on February 5, 2015. [Photo: CFP]

Illegal agencies in South Korea are gaining dominance in the market for overseas tourists who traveled to the country for plastic surgery. JoonAng IIbo, one of South Korea's major daily newspapers, reported on Sunday that in 2014, only 13 percent of the overseas customers have traveled to South Korea to do plastic surgeries via legal agencies.

Data from the Korean Health Industry Development Institute, or KHIDI, shows that there has been an explosive growth of overseas customers on medical tours to South Korea during recent years. The number of Chinese tourists visiting for this purpose has surged from 791 in 2009 to 16,000 in 2013.

At the moment, there are roughly 1100 legal agencies registered with the KHIDI, overwhelmed by illegal agencies that have occupied around 87 percent of the market share for the plastic surgery industry targeting foreign customers.

Take China for the example, illegal agencies often attract customers by working with local tourist agencies in China or posting advertisements on the internet. These agencies often charge service fees at a much higher level of around half of the operation fees, compared with the 20 percent level suggested by the South Korean government.

On the other side, hospitals are also complaining that illegal agencies are interfering with their normal businesses. Those who have failed to pay a broker fee to these agencies, which stand at around 60 percent of the operation fee, are losing their customers.

Amid scandals and increasing numbers of medical accidents, the South Korean government has put forward new measures to crack down on illegal agencies by introducing plans to set a reasonable price range for broker fees, and also to enhance punishment on illegal management of medical institutions, etc. The bill, however, is yet to be approved by the government.

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