Last fact-checked: 6 March 2020
Undergoing plastic surgery in South Korea is becoming increasingly popular with international patients. As well as offering competitive prices, the country is home to some of the finest surgeons in the world who specialize in procedures such as rhinoplasty (nose jobs), breast augmentation (boob jobs), lip enhancements and so much more.
Medical Departures has partnered with a growing number of clinics and hospitals in South Korea, most of which are based in and around the capital of Seoul.
Discover how you take advantage of our Best Price Guarantee for your surgery, as well as just why South Korea is such a fantastic destination for your treatment.
Located in Eastern Asia in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea is predominantly bordered by water, except for its only land border with North Korea. The country is largely comprised of hills and mountainous terrain, with forested uplands and coastal plains to the south and west.
Seoul, the capital city, sits on the River Han and has become one of the largest cities in the world and a popular destination for holidaymakers and medical tourists alike. Throughout the country, you’ll find numerous beaches for some rest and relaxation (or more vigorous activity like water skiing and windsurfing), and over 20 national parks to explore.
Medical tourism has been on the increase in South Korea for over two decades now. The country has an abundance of modern hospitals, including the internationally-recognised Asan Medical Center, and there are over two-dozen hospitals and clinics that have received JCI accreditation. The Korean government has invested heavily in promoting medical tourism by assisting hospitals with their marketing strategies and simplifying the visa application process for overseas patients.
South Korea manages to blend modern-day living with tradition. It embraces modern technology with high-speed intercity trains, national high-speed internet (one of the few countries in the world where it is available everywhere) and it is world-renowned for its skin-care and esthetic innovations. This, along with the fact that plastic surgery is so commonplace here, makes it a great choice if you are looking for affordable cosmetic or plastic surgery abroad.
Situated in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea lies between the Yellow Sea to the west, the Sea of Japan to the east and the Korean Strait and the East China Sea to the south.
Its neighbouring countries include The People’s Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east and North Korea to the north.
Below, we run you through some of the top reasons to choose South Korea for surgery…
#1 The Costs:
Plastic surgery procedures are becoming more and more popular around the world, but the cost can be quite prohibitive for many — especially in countries like Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK. Undergoing treatment in South Korea can save you up to 60% - 80% compared to the prices you would pay back home, thus removing many of the financial obstacles that might otherwise put you off having treatment.
#2 The Medical Facilities:
The South Korean government has long recognised the importance of the role that medical tourism plays in the country’s economy. The huge investments made in facilities and the latest equipment and technology ensure that you receive first-class treatment delivered in comfortable, modern surroundings.
#3 Doctor Training and Qualifications:
Doctors in South Korea receive extensive training and also have an annual training requirement that must be met each year. This process involves attending workshops, lectures and conferences to ensure that all doctors will be fully briefed on the latest techniques and procedures.
#4 The Tourist Locations for Your Pre and Post-op Recovery:
A huge choice of activities and interesting destinations await in South Korea, which can be explored either before, during or after your treatment (depending on what your particular downtime is like). Plan your holiday itinerary beforehand by researching festival dates, cultural sites, restaurants and beach/mountain resorts that you might want to visit. Your level of activity will be dependent upon the surgery you undergo, so ensure that you consult with your doctor before planning anything too strenuous.
(Image by: Jeon Han)
As can be expected, there are accommodation options here to suit all budgets. You’ll find hundreds of three or four-star hotels in the cities, and for those that want the ultimate in luxury, five-star accommodation is also readily available up and down the country.
Motels provide a cheaper option and are commonplace, especially near bus and train stations and highway exits. There are also hostels and guesthouses at the lower end of the price spectrum while family-run homestays provide a comfortable place to sleep with breakfast normally included the following morning.
The crime rate in South Korea is very low, even in the major cities, and the threat of terrorism is also low. Millions of foreign nationals travel to South Korea each year, with the vast majority of these visits being trouble-free.
South Korea does have a typhoon season, which normally runs between June and November. If you are planning your visit during this period and plan to be by the coast, it is advisable to monitor the local weather announcements and heed any instructions issued by the local authorities.
Also with regard to air quality, it’s worth monitoring online during your stay for the most up-to-date reports.
Medical tourism in South Korea has been growing in popularity as a result of the country’s state-of-the-art clinics and the quality of their health care service. All medical institutions that want to attract medical tourists are required to register and adhere to specific requirements, as laid out in the countries Medical Service Act. Many hospitals now maintain international patient departments, with English speaking staff to cater to the needs of medical tourists.
South Korea actually carries out more plastic surgery procedures per percentage of the population than anywhere else in the world. South Koreans are not averse to plastic surgery in the slightest, with all ages and all walks of life undergoing treatments. It figures that there must be something good about the services, although we always recommend that due diligence is carried out before you take the plunge.
At Medical Departures, we have already carried out background checks on all of the doctors and clinics listed on our website to confirm the legitimacy of professional memberships, experience and qualifications. Site visits are carried out to ensure that facilities are of a high standard, and we post patient reviews and photographs on our website to help you select the best options for your treatment. This ensures that you can be certain of booking in with a clinic and surgeon whose credentials stack-up.
Get started with these top clinics in South Korea (all based in Seoul) that offer a range of cosmetic procedures to international patients.
You can book a free appointment directly through our site - you’ll be paying the best prices online and have around-the-clock access to our dedicated Customer Care Team.
The level of English is generally good in big cities, thanks largely to a combination of big investment and government policy. Most Koreans have undertaken English lessons during their education, and most employees at airlines, hotels and stores are able to speak some English. This is especially true in the medical industry, and you should not encounter any problems communicating with your doctor.
Cash is obviously accepted everywhere, and the currency in South Korea is the won. There are plenty of ATM machines around, but generally only foreign bank ATMs, such as Citibank, will accept foreign cards. There are also many Global ATMs, signified by a “Foreign Cards” button, that is displayed on the screen. Credit cards are also widely accepted, although some very small restaurants and cheap motels may not accept Mastercard or Visa.
(Image by: Iwy)
When planning your trip to South Korea, you may want to consider the local weather conditions at particular times of the year. Spring is a popular time to visit as the temperatures are not too hot and the cherry blossoms are in bloom. The summer season has a rainy start in June, before turning hot, humid and steamy throughout July and August when temperatures can reach as high as 35°C (95°F).
Both the temperature and humidity start to fall in September when the autumn arrives. The weather becomes more tolerable and the foliage takes on its fall colours. The winter months provide good skiing/snowboarding opportunities when the snow arrives, although January and February can be bitterly cold when Siberian winds blow in from the north.
When staying in rural, less urban locations, visitors to the country may encounter difficulties in buying food that isn’t Korean or Asian-inspired. So, if you desire food of western origin, you might want to book your stay in one of the major cities.
The more adventurous may also experience some communication difficulties in the more rural areas too, as English is seldom used outside large cities — plus, many Koreans can be a little shy when trying to speak a foreign language.
South Korea offers a fascinating blend of natural beauty and man-made wonders, giving you plenty to explore before or after your plastic surgery.
Take time to enjoy the numerous historical sites and palaces to be found in Seoul, Gyeongju and Buyeo, or explore the breath-taking mountain peaks of Jiri-san and Seorak-san. Experience the natural beauty of the Danyang and Hwanseongul Caves, or relax on the glorious beaches of Mallipo and Haeundae.
Many come to South Korea for the many famous festivals that take place all year round, which include:
The Yeongdeok Snow Crab Festival (February/March)
The Jindo Sea-Parting Festival (March, when the seas part allowing visitors to walk from the mainland to a nearby island)
The Lotus Lantern Festival (May)
The Boryeong Mud Festival (July)
The Incheon Ceramic Festival (October)
Other places of interest worthy of consideration are:
Changdeokgung - take a tour around this World Heritage-listed site, one of Seoul’s four main palaces
Jeju-Do - enjoy a hike through rural Jeju-do, experiencing working farm plots, natural grassy craters and the spectacular sunrises of Seongsan Ilchul-bong
Hwaseong Haenggung - the palace of King Jeongjo located at the foot of Mt Padal, where traditional performances are held in the palace plaza between March and November, including the grand royal procession in October.
(Image by: Parhessiastes)
There are numerous international airports in South Korea, although the three main airports servicing the country are:
Incheon International Airport - the largest airport in South Korea located about one hour to the west of Downtown Seoul
Seoul Gimpo Airport - located more centrally to Seoul, but operates mainly domestic flights around South Korea
Gimhae Airport - located in Busan, the airport has international flights to Russia and throughout Asia
Travelling by train to South Korea is virtually impossible as most railroads from Asia pass through North Korea and, therefore, are not a viable travel option. You can, however, use the train system to get around the country quickly and easily.
The largest seaport in South Korea is Busan Port International Passenger Terminal, which mainly operates ferry services to and from Japan. For anyone wanting to travel on to China, Incheon's International Ferry Terminal 1 operates services to several Chinese cities.
Due to the political situation with North Korea, it remains almost impossible to enter South Korea overland. The border between North and South Korea remains heavily fortified, and attempting to cross the border can be dangerous unless booked with a reputable (and rather expensive) tour company.
Visitors to South Korea must have a passport valid for at least three months as at the time of arrival.
Nationals of the United States, Canada, UK and the European Union, Australia and New Zealand can all enter South Korea without a visa for up to 90 days. Nationals of Portugal and Croatia are allowed stays of up to 60 and 30 days respectively, and Canadians can stay for up to six months).
Keep up-to-date with the latest South Korean visa information here.
Los Angeles, USA to Seoul: 12 hours 30 mins
New York, USA to Seoul: 14 hours
Toronto, Canada to Seoul: 13 hours 45 mins
London, UK to Seoul: 11 hours 30 mins
Sydney, Australia: 11 hours
Auckland, New Zealand: 12 hours 30 mins
Discover a world of options with Medical Departures’ quality-checked clinics.
Discuss plastic surgery in South Korea requirements with our Customer Care Team or see below for ways to arrange an appointment. When you book with us, you’ll always pay the best prices online and have free, round-the-clock access to our support team.
Absolute Perfection: South Korea’s Obsession with Plastic Surgery. Breaking Asia. 23 May 2019.
South Korea. Lonely Planet. Website accessed: 6 March 2020.
Competitive culture triggers plastic surgery boom in S. Korea. CBS News. 28 September 2015.
Joint Commission International. Website accessed: 6 March 2019.
South Korean Visa Services. ItsEasy Passport and Visa. 2020.
What To Do In Seoul, South Korea – Best 18 Attractions (With Prices!). Miss Tourist. 7 October 2019.
South Korea: weather & when to go. Selective Asia. 2020.
South Korea 2019 Crime & Safety Report. OSAC. 19 March 2019.
(Main Image by: Douglas Knisely)