Young people being trained at talent factories are often pushed into an intensive regime of plastic surgery to improve their looks. They have very little say in the matter, and some management agencies practically force aspiring stars to go under the knife to improve their chances of success.
Ten plastic surgeons in the Seoul metropolitan area polled by the Chosun Ilbo said up to 90 percent of young singers on TV or trainees at entertainment academies appear to have had cosmetic surgery. "Cosmetic surgery has now become essential for all young Koreans who aspire to become stars," said Yoon Won-joon of Migo Clinic. "Many of them believe they must go under the knife if they want to boost their star potential."
Bae Joon-sung of JK Plastic Surgery Center said, "Many people get discounts on plastic surgery by having their eyes, nose and facial contours done at the same time. Some also get liposuction on their waist, arms and calves, which are areas that are difficult to slim by exercise alone."
One executive at a talent management company said, "Between W10 million to W20 million (US$1=W1,109) is spent on plastic surgery for trainees set to make their broadcast debuts. Sometimes the company pays in full and sometimes the trainees pay part of the costs." One 25-year-old former trainee said, "A person his or her third year of training undergoes anywhere from 10 to 20 cosmetic treatments including botox and filler implants."
Some management agencies get discounts by forming tie-ups with plastic surgery clinics that want to capitalize on the glamour of treating stars. This can lead to trainees becoming addicted to plastic surgery. One 21-year-old trainee said, "We need to keep up with the latest trends and I've seen many people get more plastic surgery done on a part of their faces that had already been done."
Experts say there are inherent dangers in adolescents getting plastic surgery done before their bones have reached full maturity. Oh Kap-sung, a plastic surgeon at Samsung Medical Center, said, "There is no way of determining what kinds of side effects young trainees would face after they mature, due to the plastic surgery they receive now."