Plastic Surgery Leaves Travelers Stranded With Passports That Don’t Match Their Faces

Filed Under: Media

With plastic surgery getting more popular — and in particular with people frequently traveling abroad for plastic surgery, either because it’s cheaper or higher quality elsewhere — I’m surprised we don’t hear stories like this more often. Daily Mail has the story of three Chinese women who allegedly traveled to South Korea for plastic surgery, only to be denied their return flights because they looked nothing like their IDs. Per the story:

It’s believed that the three women, who remain unidentified, had taken the advantage of the ‘Golden Week’ and travelled to the neighbouring South Korea to undergo plastic surgery.

The picture was said to be posted by Jian Huahua, a Chinese news anchor, on her social media on October 8.

The post claimed that the three women had been prevented from leaving the airport. They were waiting for their identities to be confirmed.

Photo credit: Daily Mail

With over 500,000 Chinese tourists traveling abroad every year for plastic surgery (and I imagine millions of people around the world doing the same), I’m surprised this problem isn’t more common.

Then again, I guess I question how representative IDs really are of how someone is supposed to look, and how much attention officials really pay. My driver’s license photo is the same one I had when I got my learner’s permit over 12 years ago, when I was 15. I’ve been able to renew my driver’s license without ever going back to the DMV (thank goodness). While I’ve never actually had issues with it, TSA agents will often do a double take, or say “this is you?” However, I’ve never been questioned beyond that.

It seems like the only reasonable solution here is for countries to rely more heavily on biometric data. When we rely on photos, and photos don’t match on arrival and departure, it’s only natural that this throws off authorities. Furthermore, it’s not like showing medical records of what was done could really help, since those could easily be falsified and used to smuggle people with false passports.

(Tip of the hat to Points, Miles & Martinis)

  1. Of course there’s a solution: biometrics… we shouldn’t be relying on photos only in the 21st century. Same as described here, I know of a pair of twins that travel using each other’s passports…

  2. Ben I know you love trashy reality TV- you have to watch Bridalplasty – that photo looks like a still from the slow. It’s so bad, but so good.

  3. If it was in the US they wouldn’t be bothered, because for people there “all asians look the same”.

  4. “I’m surprised we don’t hear stores like this more often”, you mean “stories”.
    “When we rely on photos, and photos doesn’t match”, you mean “don’t”
    Multitasking…? 🙂

  5. It has happened a few times in China , including a pop singer who was denied entrance until additional authentication.

    Now in China theyare experimenting face reorganization on train station check-in even supermarket shopping pay with your face , also the new Iphone X ‘ face unlocking, plastic surgery will be more like changing legal name, it brings a lot of hassles.

  6. Can you please not share links that give money to awful newspapers like the daily mail. They’re the lowest of the low.

  7. Back in 2008 my family went to Singapore over Christmas Break and my dad was held up at passport control because he had lost a considerable amount of weight. It was only like 10-15 minutes or so so not a big deal at all but I was a little surprised because I would assume that passport control officers would be trained to identify people based on facial features such as bone structure and eye color rather than more variable aspects like that.

  8. They call that “newspaper” the “Daily Fail” for a reason.

    One solution would be that people stopped disfiguring themselves. Look what happened to those pigs Melania and Ivanka Trump after their botched surgeries. They look plastic. Plastic and greedy and shallow and dumb. But the greedy and shallow and dumb part have nothing to do with disfiguring themselves.

  9. All the “Real Housewives” have had extensive cosmetic procedures and they travel freely. I feel like a quick email to Danielle Staub could clear up any questions.

  10. Have you seen Danielle’s current face? It transcends all racial hallmarks. None of the Real Housewives look like their passports or driver’s licenses.

  11. I’d like to know how on earth they have the stamina to get on a flight, even just a short 2-3 hour flight with the trauma they have been though. Their noses are stuffed with gauze, swelling, hardened deep up their noses and no means to seriously breath through their noses ? Cant believe the doctors allowed them to fly. I had a nose operation when i was 20 and was given very clear instructions, no flights for 2-3 weeks, until all the scabs have dried up and unobstructed breathing through the nose is possible.

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