S. Korea's main gateway in hot water over cosmetic surgery clinic

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2017-10-24 10:28 Updated : 2017-10-24 10:28
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[Incheon International Airport]

Incheon International Airport, South Korea's main gateway west of Seoul, has been rated the world's best, cleanest, and best international transit airport, earning good marks for its fast and convenient service in customs processing.

In January next year, the airport plans to open a second passenger terminal equipped with good facilities. The first terminal handles more than 50 million passengers a year, and the second one is capable of handling about 18 million.

Incheon airport operators have been complimented for brilliant ideas such as robots for cleaning and guiding and a "capsule" hotel furnished with modern convenience for transfer passengers and those arriving in the dead of night.

However, they are now in hot water for an unprecedented service for transfer passengers who want quick cosmetic surgery inside the duty-free shopping zone of the second terminal.

The plastic surgery clinic was aimed at spurring an inflow of foreign medical tourists, but the project hit a snag from the beginning when airport authorities gave a public notice for a bid in September only to get no applicants.

An association of plastic surgeons has warned of legal disputes and side effects stemming from medical operations or procedures to be conducted under pressure. "Sutures after simple double eyelid surgery may cause suture loosening in the cabin due to air pressure difference."

Some 364,000 foreigners visited South Korea for medical treatment last year, including 48,000 for cosmetic surgery. Dermatology was also favored by Japanese and Chinese medical tourists. The state-run Korea Tourism Organization found that foreign medical tourists were generally satisfied with high skills of South Korean medical professionals.