Pretty boy singer Kim Hyun-joong, formerly a member of the dance group SS501, admitted on national television that his chiseled good looks are partly the result of plastic surgery. "It's both God-given and touched by a doctor," Kim said in a talk show program recently. And on one reality TV show, a panel member asked a male contestant whether plastic surgery is an option because he looks rather plain. The segment was edited out, but the episodes demonstrate that plastic surgery has become the norm not only among women in showbusiness but among men as well.
"Maybe 99 percent of all female entertainers went under the knife, and 90 percent of male entertainers as well," one well-known plastic surgeon said. "Take a close look at entertainers who took time off and then made a comeback." In nine out of 10 cases, the main purpose of long breaks taken is to have cosmetic surgery.
The most common procedure for male stars is apparently the nose job. The results vary. One married Korean Wave star is considered to be the textbook case of a successful nose job and double eyelid surgery. But rumor has it that a teen heartthrob and a rising star went a little too far in having their noses done, resulting in an awkward countenance. Another celebrity, who is both a singer and entertainer, ended up with a crooked nose after plastic surgery, triggering suspicions that he turned to a quack.
"To my knowledge, one male singer who turned solo after leaving his dance group had his nose done twice," a plastic surgeon said. "The first one involved the silicone insertion but failed, and the second involved using part of his rib, and this time it looks like he managed to get his nose straightened." According to the doctor, the treatment using rib bones is not widespread yet, but is more capable of giving the desired shape.
Another Korean Wave star had a tough time dealing with baldness and got hair implants.
Most male entertainers over 50 apparently have plastic surgery to remove wrinkles under the eyelids and get rid of sagging skin above them. Three singers who rank at the top of the so-called trot genre, which is Korea's oldest pop music style, are known to have had the treatment. But an actor who was a teen heartthrob in the 1970s and 80s ended up looking older than his actual age after a botched attempt to remove wrinkles from under his eyes.
Some entertainers have had multiple plastic operations. Kwang-hee of the male dance group ZE:A actually capitalized on his successful plastic surgery and became popular for that reason.
Experts say the preference for plastic surgery stems from the premium Korean society places on good looks, compounded by technological advances in both broadcasting and medicine. They say that high-definition TV adds pressure on entertainers to look good in close-up.
By Jung Ji-sup from the Chosun Ilbo's News Desk