16 Photos That Reveal The Realities Of Korean Plastic Surgery

This article was originally published on September 28, 2015.

In 2014, South Korea had the fourth-highest number of plastic surgeries performed in any country in the world, despite having less than half the population of any other nation in the top five. Nips and tucks are so common in South Korea that it's almost novel if you haven't had work done, says South Korean photographer Ji Yeo. Yeo describes her younger self as "typical" for a teenager: Like the rest of her peers, she wanted plastic surgery — a lot of plastic surgery. "I wanted to get my entire face done, liposuction for the whole body, everything," she tells us."I wanted to change my entire look."
Although Yeo eventually decided against undergoing any procedure, many, many women in South Korea go through with it, and, indeed, change their "entire look." Yeo explains that the $5-billion-per-year industry is so widespread that plastic surgery has become a rite of passage for many young women. "It’s not something that’s rare," she says, adding that it's not even treated with the same caution as other surgeries: "It’s really considered a very quick, safe procedure that people don’t find it’s necessary to bring along their family members or friends."
Yeo's series, Beauty Recovery Room, depicts women who have very recently undergone various plastic surgery procedures. They are still in bandages, and many of them appear to be resting and recuperating. Yeo tells us that all of the people she photographed had had many surgeries prior to the ones they were recovering from when she met them. When asked how many of her models plan to return for even more work in the future, Yeo says, without hesitation, "100%."
Click through to see more of Yeo's work and to hear from her about just how much Korea's and the U.S.'s views of plastic surgery differ.
Ed. note: Some of the images to follow contain nudity.

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