Going Fluid: The Cosmetic Protocols of Gangnam

Common Accounts, Igor Bragado (Spain), Miles Gertler (Canada)

Galata Greek Primary School

“Seoul’s Gangnam district arguably has the densest concentration of plastic surgery clinics in the world. According to the governmental agency for Gangnam Medical Tourism and South Korea’s National Tax Service, 356 of Korea’s 671 clinics were located in Gangnam by 2014. Nowadays the neighborhood’s doctors attract no less than 55,000 annual foreign patients, and in a single year, half a million people can be rendered wrinkle-free with the amount of collagen imported. In Seoul, the will to redesign oneself is no longer a private affair… As the healing time has dwindled, the urbanism that serves the post-op patient has multiplied exponentially… Your new nose demands a protocol at both technological and urban scales: tubing, smoothies, neck pillows, automated beds, cushioned vans, hotel rooms, convenience stores, beauty salons, and shopping centers.” –IB, MG


Going Fluid considers the urban implications of cosmetic operations through a close study of Seoul’s Gangam district, home to South Korea’s booming plastic surgery industry. The images of bodily modification move freely across billboards, screens and faces. In the two weeks of de-swelling following surgery bandaged patients animate the district as they browse through boutiques or sip their soups at local cafés, all living an experience that is simultaneously blogged, vlogged, shared and documented online.