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South Korean Plastic Surgery By Ghost Doctor Resulted In Death (Case of Kwon Dae-Hee)

The scariest of things could happen to us while we are under general anaesthesia in the operating room and being operated on by a Ghost Doctor is one of it.

By Dharrsheena Raja SegarranPublished about a month ago 7 min read
Top Story - March 2024
115
Kwon Dae-Hee Photo from CNN and edited using Samsung Photo Editor https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/10/asia/south-korea-ghost-doctors-plastic-surgery-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

On 8th September 2016, in Seoul, South Korea, 24-year-old Kwon Dae-Hee underwent plastic surgery. It cost him both 6.5 million won ($5,766) and his life because his surgery was performed by a Ghost Doctor.

Have you heard of the term Ghost Doctor? If you thought they’re ghosts of doctors who had died and now haunt the hospital, then you’re wrong.

The term Ghost Doctor refers to a person who is unqualified but secretly performs surgeries in the place of qualified surgeons.

There are no medical records listing them as a doctor anywhere or that they had helped with any surgeries. It was almost as if these doctors didn't exist and hence came the term, Ghost Doctors.

The switch between the qualified surgeon and Ghost Doctor usually happened when the patients were under general anaesthesia and were unaware of it.

This is way more terrifying than the ghosts of dead doctors haunting the hospital because these Ghost Doctors have little to no experience whatsoever, some have no medical background and all of them have no idea what they’re doing.

All of these were done for the sole purpose of making money and it’s illegal. Most of the time, these Ghost Doctors were resident doctors, dentists and nurses.

Sometimes, even the person who sold medical equipment ended up as a Ghost Doctor!

Can you imagine, one minute they’re at the hospital selling scalpels and the next they’re in the operating room performing a surgery? That is so terrifying!

Kwon Dae-Hee had no idea about these Ghost Doctors and it cost him his life.

Dae-Hee was a very humble guy and he valiantly served two years in the Korean Army. He was a high achiever who wanted to do well in life.

Kwon Dae-Hee (middle) with his brother, Kwon Tae-Hoon (left) and his mother, Lee Na Geum (right)
Photo from Koreaboo
https://www.koreaboo.com/stories/korean-plastic-surgeon-leaves-patient-bleed-death-gory-cctv-footage-will-shock/

In South Korea, it’s very normal to get a plastic surgery done right after someone had finished high school but it wasn’t for obvious reasons.

The job market is very intense in South Korea. Beauty is taken into consideration during the hiring process alongside work experience and academic and non-academic achievements.

The most common plastic surgeries done for this purpose are rhinoplasty, double eyelid surgery and jawline surgery.

Dae-Hee was always bullied for his jawline as it did not meet the conventional beauty standards in Korea. He decided to go for a jawline surgery to increase his chances of being hired for any job. He felt it would be a smart choice for his career.

Jawline surgeries are excruciatingly painful but the risk of death is very low. Essentially, jawline surgeries are done by peeling off the skin, sawing off the bone to the desired shape and reattaching the skin.

Dae-Hee proceeded to save money for the next two years for this surgery. He was 22 years old when he started saving and was 24 years old when the surgery was performed.

His mother, Lee Na Geum (who would be referred to as Lee from this point on) and brother, Kwon Tae-Hoon, did not agree to the surgery.

Despite that, Dae-Hee booked a consultation at a well-known plastic surgery clinic that specialized in jawline surgeries.

During the consultation, the plastic surgeon explained to him that the surgery would be very simple and scheduled it for 8th September 2016 at 1.00 p.m.

The surgery would take approximately two hours and should be successfully over around 3.00 p.m.

However, on the day of the surgery, at 11.27 p.m., the plastic surgeon called the local hospital and said that they needed to send Dae-Hee over to the Emergency Room (ER) because his blood pressure was extremely low.

The plastic surgeon also claimed that Dae-Hee was still conscious and could still talk. They also said they didn’t think he was in a critical condition but he may need blood transfusion.

When Dae-Hee arrived at the ER, everyone started panicking because he was unconscious and was missing two-thirds of his blood (3.5 litres).

The doctors in the ER were baffled because the plastic surgeon sounded so calm on the phone.

They also wondered how someone could lose that much blood during plastic surgery and how it escalated to this stage while Dae-Hee was still under the care of the plastic surgeon.

The next morning, Dae-Hee’s family was alerted and they arrived at the hospital. Dae-Hee was then declared brain dead.

After seven weeks of being in a coma, on 6th October 2016, Dae-Hee passed away at the hospital.

The plastic surgeon claimed that Dae-Hee was doing fine when he was still with them and therefore, something must have happened to him on the way to the hospital.

They said they did the procedure as usual and even gave the CCTV footage to Lee.

Lee seized this opportunity and watched the footage over and over again. She analysed every single millisecond of the footage, took note of every single thing that had happened and time stamped it.

Lee Na Geum at her home in Seoul.
Photo by Yoonjung Seo from CNN.
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/10/asia/south-korea-ghost-doctors-plastic-surgery-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

This was what Lee gathered from the CCTV footage of 8th September 2016.


12.56 p.m.

Dae-Hee was put under general anaesthesia by the anaesthesiologist. The plastic surgeon walked in and started the surgery.

1.59 p.m.

The plastic surgeon walked out. That by itself is very alarming but it was nothing compared to when a new random person walked in. It was the Ghost Doctor and they started operating on him.

2.35 p.m.

The plastic surgeon walked back in and the Ghost Doctor left.

2.45 p.m.

The plastic surgeon left and the Ghost Doctor returned.

2.54 p.m.

The Ghost Doctor left and the nursing assistant came in. It was now two hours after the surgery had begun and it was supposed to have been over by now.

3.22 p.m.

After 30 minutes of having no doctors at all in the operating room, the Ghost Doctor walked back in and continued with the surgery.

4.17 p.m.

The surgery was over and the Ghost Doctor left.

4.28 p.m.

The plastic surgeon walked back in and dressed Dae-Hee’s wound. Now, this is three hours after the start of the surgery. Dae-Hee is then left with only the nursing assistant.

The plastic surgeon, the Ghost Doctor and the anaesthesiologist left for the day.

7.24 p.m.

Dae-Hee was wheeled into the clinic’s recovery room. His vitals were not being taken. For the next three hours, the nursing assistant just sat there using her phone and fixing her make-up.

Blood was seen dripping from Dae-Hee’s jaw and the nursing assistant mopped it up and went back to her phone.

She didn’t mop his blood up once or twice, but thirteen times! This was how Dae-Hee lost two-thirds of his blood.

10.44 p.m.

The anaesthesiologist came back and realized that Dae-Hee wasn’t awake yet, so he was immediately rushed to the operating room.

He tried to provide Dae-Hee with blood transfusion but he couldn’t find a vein. Loss of blood usually causes veins to shrink.

The anaesthesiologist then called the plastic surgeon.

11.21 p.m.

The plastic surgeon arrived and they decided to call the ER but planned to make it seem like it’s not their fault.

11.27 p.m.

They made a call to the emergency number 119. This couldn’t be seen in the CCTV footage but CNN confirmed this using call records.

11.34 p.m.

The ambulance arrived to take Dae-Hee to the hospital.

~~~~~

Upon Dae-Hee’s death, the plastic surgeon and the Ghost Doctor created fake medical records and lied that they provided him with blood transfusion. Their plan was to pin this on the hospital because he died at the hospital, not while he was with them.

But Lee had all the evidence she needed in the CCTV footage and she wasn’t going to let this go. Them giving her the CCTV footage was their undoing. I’m guessing they did not expect her to analyse it as thoroughly as she did.

She launched a civil case against the clinic and in May 2019, she won damages of 430 million won ($381,000).

The three doctors involved (the plastic surgeon, the Ghost Doctor and the anaesthesiologist) faced criminal charges for manslaughter. Two other doctors and a nursing assistant faced charges of unlicensed medical acts.

Another doctor faced charges of violating medical laws by exaggeration of advertisement. These were the clinic’s advertisements:

“14 Years In Business Without A Single Medical Accident”

“Head Doctor Operates From Start To Finish”

They were each given a fine of 7 million won ($5700) and sentenced to two years in prison. Just two years! Even when Lee appealed, the court didn’t want to look further into the matter and dismissed the case.

Lee was very frustrated with this and spent literally every waking moment of her life outside the parliament in Seoul because she wanted a bill to be passed where it would be mandatory for every operating room in hospitals and clinics to have a CCTV.

Lee Na Geum on a one person protest outside the parliament in Seoul
Photo from Koreaboo
https://www.koreaboo.com/stories/korean-plastic-surgeon-leaves-patient-bleed-death-gory-cctv-footage-will-shock/

Lee was very dedicated to sharing the truth about this clinic to create awareness of what happened in the operating room and the importance of this bill.

The doctors opposed this bill by saying they wouldn’t feel comfortable saving lives if that were the case. The public spoke and the general consensus wanted a CCTV in operating rooms.

Finally, in August 2021, the Kwon Dae-Hee bill was passed, mandating CCTV in operating rooms. South Korea was the first country to do this on a national level.

Now that you know about Ghost Doctors, how do you feel about surgeries and what are your thoughts on this case?
__________________________________________

Author’s Notes:

This article is a summary I made of the same case that I watched two years ago on the YouTube channel, Stephanie Soo. I wanted to link that video here but I couldn’t find it anymore. I did some digging and found out that the video had been made private by her because apparently, she was threatened by the Korean officials. Please refer to the screenshot below.

Screenshot from Reddit. Cropped and made into a collage using InShot.
https://www.reddit.com/r/StephanieSooStories/comments/165kov4/ghost_surgery_in_s_korea/

Other sources:

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/10/asia/south-korea-ghost-doctors-plastic-surgery-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/10/asia/south-korea-ghost-doctors-plastic-surgery-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

https://www.koreaboo.com/stories/korean-plastic-surgeon-leaves-patient-bleed-death-gory-cctv-footage-will-shock/

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/13/world/asia/south-korea-cameras-ghost-surgery.html


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About the Creator

Dharrsheena Raja Segarran

My mental health decline brought about a lot of darkness and I embraced it. It now flows out mostly as Dark Stories and Poetry.

❤️ Erythrophile ❤️
✨️Glitteringly Savage✨️
🖤 Elegantly Disturbed Mind 🖤

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Comments (108)

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  • Thanes. Nutritionistabout 14 hours ago

    Really sad and this is really alarming for many who wants to do plastic surgery.

  • Chloe Gilholy4 days ago

    So sad that he had to resort to surgery to get through in life. Even sadder he never woke up from surgery and his purpetrators only got a slap on a wrist. Great write up.

  • Staringale11 days ago

    Ok!! Now you have officialy scared me. I would probably be paranoid in my upcoming night shift at the hospital. Congrats on the Top Story. I feel bad

  • Susan Fourtané13 days ago

    I got a notification of your reply but can't find any. :/ I just want to clarify that what I find disturbing is to learn that such kind of practice is happening in South Korea and is killing people. The way you tell the story is compelling and interesting, well documented and engaging. I don't want you to misunderstand my other comment, because now that I read it, it could be misunderstood. The fact that they were coming and going from the operating theatre and the way they let the poor guy die ...

  • Susan Fourtané13 days ago

    This is one disturbing story. I had never heard about ghost doctors before.

  • Ali SP14 days ago

    How sad. I feel for the family. Thank you for this very detailed and well written piece that brings awareness to ghost doctors

  • Murali16 days ago

    Thanks for sharing this. Your blog is a very detailed analysis.

  • How awful!! It is so sad that people feel like they must have plastic surgery, but far worse that Kwon Dae-Hee's life was so insignificant to them that they could not provide better care. Dharrsheena, thank you for sharing his story.

  • Gina C.18 days ago

    This is so, so scary but also so interesting. Wow. Definitely something to be aware of! Thank you so much for sharing, my dear friend! And, congratulations on Top Story and Leaderboard! 🤗❤️

  • This is very interesting learning a bit about the job market in South Korea and the unethical practice of ghost surgeons. Great job as always Dharrsheena.

  • Well deserved First Place on the Leaderboard ✅.

  • Asad Message21 days ago

    Thank you for sharing

  • Anna 22 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Isabella Rose23 days ago

    I had over 15 surgeries as a child to mitigate the effects of Cerebral Palsy. I also recently got some cosmetic procedures done in 2023, but thank goodness my surgeon is a qualified doctor. The thought of surgery is scary enough without considering that the medical doctors in the operating room are unqualified. I know some people will choose to go to alternate countries to get cosmetic procedures because it's much less expensive than in the United States. I always cringe when I hear those stories. It's best to pay an expensive amount and good a good result than to never wake up again. My advice to those people would be to save up and delay the procedure until they can visit a top plastic surgeon. I understand societal and economic pressures to look a certain way, but no surgery is worth dying over.   Good story, My Morbid Friend!

  • Addison M24 days ago

    This was more unsettling than usual as I just read this while recovering from a recent surgery haha. Healthcare is not a service where Corners should be cut and this is terrifying! Really interesting read. Excellent work.

  • Grz Colm24 days ago

    Hey D! That’s horrific! I’ve not heard of ghost doctors before. How horrible to lose one’s life at such a young age under these circumstances. I also found it odd that you noted that plastic surgery is quite common in South Korea amongst young people! 👏 🎉 Congrats on your top story my friend and I hope you are travelling well!! Best! 😊👍

  • Dana Crandell25 days ago

    Wow! Great job on this, Dharrsheena! It's hard to believe that many people were inolved in this man's horrible death.

  • Ameer Bibi25 days ago

    You did a lot of work to gather all information and I will must say that story was truly engaging and full of curiosity. I appreciate efforts of Lee who spent lots of time to make it essential to install CCTV in operation room.

  • This is extremely horrible, and it is disturbing that these Ghost Doctors worked with such disrespect for human life - raising awareness of this issue is critical, and I appreciate you casting light on it.

  • Harun rashid25 days ago

    nice picture & good write,

  • Mackenzie Davis25 days ago

    Damn, this was such a horrific story. The blood loss part is INSANE. They deserve the death penalty! Plastic surgery has so many issues, it’s almost worth promoting a ban for it. Too many ethics violations and legal loopholes, I feel. Congrats, Dharr! ❤️

  • Woah! the catastrophic repercussions of unethical behavior and the significance of openness in healthcare.

  • Blake Booth25 days ago

    Well... this was terrifying. Way to go on TS. You're killing it. Great job.

  • Ainy Abraham25 days ago

    First I thought it would be some creepy story but it's a good piece. Terrifying

  • Eda Marie25 days ago

    Very well researched and laid out. Congrats on Top Story!

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