This essay looks at New York–based South Korean photographer Ji Yeo's two photographic series Beauty Recovery Room and It Will Hurt a Little. Tracing the social rhetoric on plastic surgery in South Korea after the 1997 IMF Crisis, it takes Yeo's photographs as counterexamples to the sensationalized depiction of plastic surgery as a symbol of upward mobility put forth by Seoul's private clinics. It argues that Yeo's images represent surgery as a practice of bodily rupture necessitating an affective, material, and durational process of recovery, thereby demystifying the elusive narrative of cosmetic transformation promised by South Korea's plastic surgery industry. Exploring the performative affinities and disparities between the photographic representation and plastic surgery, it contends that Yeo's images ultimately humanize the individuals that experience the solitary process of healing.

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