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Chinese women detained at airport after plastic surgery? South Korea says it’s fake news – China’s latest society and culture news

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summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for October 11, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.
6 days ago
Jiayun Feng

“Don’t blame airport authorities. Even their parents won’t be able to recognize them.”

“This news sucks. I don’t understand the fun of taunting women who just received cosmetic surgery and are enduring a painful recovery. Plastic surgery is nothing to be ashamed of or laughed at.”

Chinese social media lit up (in Chinese) on October 10 with a photo (in Chinese) showing three Chinese women sitting at an unnamed airport, passports in hand and bandages on their faces. The post was made on the social media platform Weibo by Chinese TV anchor Jian Huahua 建华华, who wrote, along with the picture, “At a South Korea airport, my friend encountered a group of Chinese women who just underwent plastic surgery during the Golden Week holiday. They were not allowed to take return flights to China and were waiting for their identities to be confirmed.” With a few crying and laughing emojis, the anchor added, “Even your mothers won’t recognize you.”

Though Jian quickly removed the post for reasons unknown, the story was picked up by a variety of media. To make the unverified news rich in humor and intrigue, many media even invented details of the story. For instance, some Hong Kong news publications said that the three women were actually barred from boarding a flight home because the airport authorities thought they looked different from their passport images, and that what the photo of the women captured was a scene where they were questioned by immigration officers.

As the fabricated story went viral on the internet, South Korean newspaper Chousun today quoted (in Chinese) the Justice Ministry of South Korea, calling the whole story fake news “without factual sources.”

According to the China News Service, the pursuit of physical beauty has opened a huge market for plastic surgery among Chinese people, and South Korea has long been the top destination for Chinese medical tourists. However, the Korea Herald reports that the number of Chinese people arriving in South Korea for medical purposes declined significantly in the first half of this year, due to a swelling at that time — though this may now be lightening up — of anti-South Korea sentiment.


By Jiayun Feng
Jiayun is a Chinese native and was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allows her to pursue a journalistic career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.
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