By Blog Weekly Source:Agencies Published: 2015-11-27 5:03:01

Woman demands compensation for botched plastic surgery in S.Korea

Chen Yili participates in a TV show in which she talks about her disastrous plastic surgery. Photo: CFP

A photo of Chen before the plastic surgery sits in her room. Photo: CFP

A photo in Chen Yili's room of her before her life changed shows a woman with long hair, big eyes and a warm smile.

Now, the 31-year-old has a nose that looks fake, stitches on her face and is forced to wear masks and sunglasses everywhere she goes.

Since she woke up after a plastic surgery in a South Korean hospital five years ago, Chen has been living a life in disguise. She became occupied with attempts to get justice for what was done to her and she flies to South Korea regularly to protest, she told Blog Weekly.

'I'm finished'

Chen was never happy with her skin, as it was not as smooth as she would have liked.

She and her sister owned two clothing shops in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, one of which imported products from South Korea. Her business required her to travel to and from the country every couple of weeks, which is how she met a translator, surnamed Gao.

After she became friends with Gao, he suggested that she undergo surgery in South Korea. He had told her that someone he knew had received an operation and now had skin that "looked like a peeled egg."

In 2010, Chen decided to get the operation. She closed down her shop and took 100,000 yuan ($15,000) in cash with her, as well as six credit cards. She had planned to go abroad and study design after undergoing the surgery, so her plan was to be beautiful and confident when she went to school.

A few months later, she stepped into a three-floor hospital in the commercial district of Seoul and arranged to meet a doctor.

The doctor explained to her the procedure involved in skin surgery. He designed her a new face, including a "rib nose," where part of her rib would be taken out to be inserted into her nose to cushion the nose ridge and make it taller.

Chen became uneasy, she told Blog Weekly. But when she wanted to leave, Gao and the doctor persuaded her to stay. The screens of the computers in the room had pictures of a beautiful Chinese celebrity athlete, hinting that she had also received plastic surgery at the hospital.

In recent years, more and more Chinese people have been getting plastic surgery in South Korea. It's widely known that many TV stars have gone under the knife and the public is growing more accepting of this fact.

In the end, Chen agreed to do the surgery. On the second day, she signed a contract and paid 165,000 yuan for the operation.

But five hours later, when she finally got a chance to look at herself in the mirror, she saw a face filled with stitches. There was plastic stuffed into her chin. Her complexion was gray and ghastly.

Her first thought was "I'm finished," she told Blog Weekly.

Suicidal thoughts

The side effects persisted, but the doctor and Gao insisted that her condition was normal. While waiting for the stitches to be removed, Chen would sometimes wake up at night from the pain in her nose, and occasionally she would find it bleeding, but the doctor reassured her that this was nothing out of the ordinary.

When she went back to China, almost everybody she met asked her, "Did you get plastic surgery?" "How did you become like this? Your face is so fake!"

She started to feel her nose itch. She tried calling Gao, but he vanished.

Chen went to doctors in China and asked whether they could bring back her old face, but nobody was willing to take on her case, as the damage done had been too great.

She became depressed. She was afraid to look in the mirror, to go out, and to talk to people. Her hands often shook uncontrollably. She felt ashamed when people looked at her.

For a time, she fought with her sister almost every day. When her depression got worse, she needed to take 11 pills every day just to control her emotions.

Even under heavy medication, she constantly thought about suicide. She went on a trip to the US, and while standing at the top of the Empire State Building, she thought she could float down like a parachute and that it wouldn't be painful, she told Blog Weekly.

Seeking justice

In 2014, four years after the surgery, two other women who had gone through the same experience contacted her and together they held a news conference.

They wanted recognition of fault from the hospitals, as well as compensation. But right now, their chances seem slim.

Overnight, everyone knew about her catastrophic surgery. Many made malicious comments on social media. "You deserved this," "Why did you get plastic surgery?" To which she replied, "Was it wrong to pursue beauty?"

She joined a few WeChat groups, whose members were also victims of botched plastic surgery operations carried out in South Korea.

The women in these groups have traveled to the country together many times. They followed the rules and applied for group protest permits from local police stations.

They also went to the hospitals to protest. Chen found the doctor that performed her surgery, but he hid from her and told other staff members to tell her he had quit.

Chen  hired South Korean lawyers and tried to sue, but they told her that clients rarely win these cases. So far, only two cases have gone in favor of the victims, and they cost as much as another surgery.

Translators, embassy workers and police all tried to talk them out of it. One policeman even showed a thick file of cases to Chen, saying not one had been successful.

Chen still lives in the room where she used to run her shop. Back then, she flew to South Korea on a regular basis. Five years after closing the shop, she still flies there, but for a different reason.

She has kept all the receipts from the hospital carefully in a drawer. She doesn't buy make-up anymore, but has purchased several hats.

Even though she knows she can't get much satisfaction from flying to South Korea, she still lives in hope.

"I want to try and fix my face," she told Blog Weekly.

Posted in: Profile

blog comments powered by Disqus