Published November 22, 2010
With grueling university entrance exams finally behind them, exhausted South Korean students are now choosing their reward — plastic surgery.
A number of plastic surgery hospitals have taken advantage of a recent trend by some parents to reward their children for years of hard study with plastic surgery, offering substantial discounts for eye and nose operations.
Popular surgeries include "Westernizing" the nose to give it an upward tilt and double-eyelid surgery to make eyes look bigger, which is especially popular with young women.
"We already had a long reservation list with names of students even before they took the test," the manager of one hospital told the JoongAng Daily.
At that hospital, the two surgeries — one for the eyes and one for the nose — would normally go for 3.7 million won ($3,273) if done separately.
The special package, though, offers a discount of 900,000 won for those having both.
Another hospital took a different tack, aiming at the students' long-suffering mothers, who offer food and support through the hard years of study and worry along with their offspring until the dreaded tests are past.
"If a student has two plastic surgeries for eyes and nose at the same time, we will provide a free Botox shot for the mother's wrinkles," it said in an advertisement on its website, the JoongAng Daily said.
Competition is fierce for places in education-obsessed South Korea's universities, and government data earlier this year showed that parents in South Korea spend nearly $20 billion a year, or about two percent of the country's GDP, on private education and cram schools to help students prepare.