South Korea introduces tax on plastic surgery procedures

South Korea introduces tax on plastic surgery procedures
South Korea introduces tax on plastic surgery procedures

South Korea's Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced last week that it will apply a tax rate on plastic surgery procedures performed in Seoul, the nation's capital that has become known as the unofficial "beauty belt" for cosmetic surgery.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the 10 percent value-added tax, which will be enacted in January 2014, applies to all cosmetic operations except for ones that are medically necessary, such as eyesight improvements and scar removals. According to the news source, the nation's most popular plastic surgery procedures were already taxed, including double-eyelid surgery and breast augmentation. 

Government officials stated to the news outlet that the tax will help boost the country's revenue. South Korea is one of world's leaders in plastic surgery, performing the most procedures per capita than any other nation, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. More than 500,000 plastic surgery procedures were performed in the country in 2010, according to an ISAPS report. While South Korea still falls behind the U.S., China and India on the total number of procedures performed, the nation has been the ultimate destination for medical tourism - which is why some plastic surgeons are critical of the proposed tax. 

"We're concerned [the proposal] could work against the cosmetic surgeons' international competitiveness, which was built on the technique as well as the Korean Wave,"  a spokesman for the Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons told the news source.