Facing market saturation at home, a number of respected Korean cosmetic surgeons have begun looking to China as a site for future expansion.
Seoul's plastic surgeons are admired by many Chinese familiar with popular South Korean pop stars and actors who have publicized their cosmetic transformations (a phenomenon named by the Chinese media as the Korean Wave).
Korean doctors may thus be seen as more accomplished and professional and preferred over Japanese, American, and European plastic surgeons.
With the market on the mainland booming, Korean surgeons seem happy to cash in on their popularity. There are now nearly twenty South Korean plastic surgery clinics in Shanghai alone, and promotional literature declaring that there's "no need to fly to Seoul" can be found almost everywhere.
Some Chinese hospitals have even hired Korean surgeons to be on staff and now adorn their ads with Korean flags.
Not surprisingly, local Chinese surgeons are not happy about this "colonization" and have pushed for governmental regulation to lessen, if not eliminate, such South Korean presense.
While the expatriate Korean surgeons may realize a significant earnings drop despite charging higher fees, most view it as part of a long-term strategy of participating in China's explosive growth.
For Chinese patients not concerned about price, the premium paid to Korean surgeons is viewed as a worthwhile investment in their quests to improve on both personal and business prospects.
Cost differences, however, can be quite large, sometimes by a factor of up to five.
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