The nose have it as South Korea sniffs an opportunity to recapture lost tourism business

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.


My face has been tucked in more times than a bedsheet at the Holiday Inn – Joan Rivers

South Korea has long been known as Asia’s plastic surgery capital – home to over 4,000 clinics and reportedly having the world’s highest rate of cosmetic procedures per… er… head of population.

Reuters reckons 13 in every 1,000 Koreans have some form of plastic surgery – that’s some 637,000 reconfigured people.

Now that figure is set to be boosted considerably by foreigners (the country already has a booming medical tourism sector), following this month’s announcement that international visitors will be able to claim VAT refunds on cosmetic procedures done while visiting Korea.

Deputy Finance Minister of Tax and Customs Moon Chang-yong, told Yonhap News: “If a foreign national submits a receipt for the surgery they received from a local hospital or clinic on departure, that person can get a tax refund.” [Just don’t get your nose job done at WH Smith -Ed]

CNBC called it a VAT-free tuck. What a great idea. Those in the nose… sorry, in the know, believe that such a move will help rejuvenate a tourism industry that has been ailing since the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in late June.

As luck has it, I’m bound for Seoul this Friday. Following not one but two breaks in my rugby playing career (the latter by one of my own team but that’s another story), the Moodie conch (pictured below, right to left… to right again) closely resembles the shape of the notorious Boulevard Périphérique in Paris. It may, just may, have inspired the immortal line in Steve Martin’s Roxanne:  “Oooo, I wish I were you. Gosh. To be able to smell your own ear.”

So next week when I am meeting Korea’s leading travel retailers, I am going to get my nose as well as my facts straight (I was going to ask for a roman nose but that may be lost in translation and they’ll tell me it is already roaming).

Enough frivolity.  I’m deadly serious about this. A nose job and maybe a hair transplant in between interviews. Really. After all the bad press travel retail has had in recent days, I’ll do anything to improve the face value of the industry. What’s more, I nose I’ll get the VAT back.

mm mythos

[It’s no myth: The Moodie nose has been carefully modelled on the notorious Boulevard Périphérique in Paris, below]


[Source: Google Maps; Wikipedia]



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