Considering Cosmetic Surgery? Co-founder & CEO Joy Kang Explains Why Eunogo is the Right Place to Start

Worth approximately $500 million annually, the South Korean medical tourism industry is experiencing an all-time high. But despite its increasing growth, the industry still presents a number of challenges to international visitors looking to go under the knife, including safety concerns, price transparency and language barriers.

Enter Eunogo, a trusted, government-approved community marketplace designed to help people discover, research and book cosmetic treatments in Korea.

Co-founder & CEO Joy Kang sat down with Seoul Searching to discuss the growing cosmetic surgery industry in Seoul as well as how international visitors can have the best possible medical experience during their next visit to the peninsula.

SS: In the past few years, South Korea has become the cosmetic surgery capital of the world. Can you tell me why the industry is so big here?
Joy: First, there is a cultural reason behind it. In South Korea, many people view cosmetic surgery as an investment for their self-improvement, relationship and career. They think: “If I have a complex about my appearance, I don’t have to live with it. I can change it” or “If I can age better by delaying the physical aging process with a procedure, why not do it?”
Second, because there’s a demand in the market, supply follows. So, there are more and more medical students becoming plastic surgeons and they are able to get more experience and enhanced skills due to high local demand. Because the plastic surgery market is becoming increasingly crowded and competitive, surgeons have to differentiate themselves by further developing their skills and using the best technology.
More and more foreigners are beginning to come to Korea to have cosmetic procedures done. Why?
Joy: The main reason they are coming is because Korean cosmetic surgeons are some of the most skilled and experienced in the world, and the technology they use is the most advanced. Also, many visitors feel that having surgery in a foreign country is more discreet and private, as they can return home almost fully recovered.
Although most people wouldn’t fly to Korea specifically to have a non-invasive procedure done, many visitors are eager to have a Korean skin care session or facial. In the same way that people traveling in Thailand want to experience Thai massage or those visiting Japan want to experience onsen, many tourists in Korea want to experience a cosmetic procedure, as it’s something Korea is famous for.


What are some of the most popular procedures among international visitors?

Joy: Procedures vary by individual, but we’ve had many clients coming for breast augmentation. V-line surgery has also become very popular.
Many also come to Korea for revision surgery after experiencing unsatisfactory results from their previous cosmetic surgery, as revision surgery requires more complex skills. 
The majority of customers from the US and Europe prefer non-invasive procedures and look to Eunogo to find a verified program at discounted price. 
Tell us about Eunogo – what is it and why was it started?
Joy: Based in Seoul and Singapore, Eunogo is a reliable concierge service for premium Korean beauty and wellness procedures in Asia.
Sophia Hwang and I started Eunogo in July 2015 to help people experience the finest quality beauty and wellness services in Korea and subsequently increase their confidence. Since then, we’ve been working to provide verification of medical services in Korea and access to top-tier doctors based on their specialty, and act as private coordinators for effective communication and transparent pricing. 
Most of our clients are busy, independent women and men who want to improve their appearance. We help them to save time and money by providing them with quality assurance and support through our Eunogo service. We aim to become the most trusted beauty adviser where people come to book verified premium procedures that are suitable for their needs.
I head up the business and marketing side of things where Sophia leads clinic partnerships, medical quality control and patient care. She is a board-certified nurse and worked at a major cosmetic surgery clinic in Seoul for six years before starting Eunogo. 

What are some of the biggest concerns of international visitors when they get cosmetic procedures in Korea, and how does Eunogo help to alleviate some of those concerns?
Joy: The major pain points are: verification and safety, language and price transparency. 
South Korea has over 2,000 plastic surgery clinics, making it very difficult for people to decide which doctor to choose. Utilizing the Korean government’s open medical data, Eunogo uses a rigid 40-item screening criteria to pre-select the right medical partners and ensure the highest quality and safety. 

This includes checking ‘behind-the-scenes’ – looking into the reputation of the doctors, seeing which celebrities visited which facilities, or if any clinic has a history of covering up an accident. We conduct constant quality checks and if a clinic fails to meet our criteria, or handles customer requests poorly, we exclude them from our list. 
Language barriers are yet another concern, as a number of doctors are not able to speak foreign languages fluently. Because communication is of the utmost importance when dealing with medical issues, we provide a trained medical coordinator who speaks the client’s language to ensure this is not a problem.
Last is price transparency. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for clinics to charge international visitors an inflated price. We wanted to ensure this didn’t happen by providing transparent pricing. I wouldn’t say that Eunogo works with the cheapest medical service providers because we prioritize quality and safety over price. Nevertheless, we provide the best value.

What differentiates Eunogo from similar services?
Joy: For starters, we are licensed by the Korea Ministry ofHealth and Welfare. Eunogo has been financially supported by the Korean government since our founding. Our business cases have also been featured at many Korean government events including the Government 3.0 Global Forum Ceremony. In this way, we have more credibility than other services.
Furthermore, Sophia and I bring more than 10 years’ experience in the industry, which enables us to provide our customers better service through our strong relationships with our medical partners. 
We also add a personal touch. Many other companies operate medical tourism platforms where people can book a surgical procedure in the same way they might book a flight or hotel on Agoda. We considered using this type of model in the beginning, but after putting ourselves in the customers’ shoes, we asked ourselves, “Do I really want to book a surgery like I book a hotel room?” The answer was clear: absolutely NOT. Therefore, we do our best to interact with each of our customers on a very personal level.

For more information about Eunogo, visit their website and shop or email them with your inquiries. 

Photos provided by Joy Kang unless otherwise noted. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.