Leeches, Needles And An Approach To Beauty That’s Not Just Skin Deep


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She’s not auditioning for the remake of Pinhead. This is an anti-ageing acupuncture treatment in a Korean private hospital.

The treatment above is for wrinkles, with acupuncture needles that stimulates the regeneration of the dermis layer. In the same hospital, facial pores are opened by setting a face on fire, and severe acne is treated with live, wiggly leeches.

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Here are our takeaways from the documentary ‘The New Age of Medicine’, examining how traditional methods and knowledge has evolved for the modern women in their quest for beauty.


With a tradition dating thousands of years, Korean traditional medicine and its applications are in the 21st century seem far from typical. The definitive textbook on Korean medicine is the Dongui Bogam, a compilation by a royal physician published in 1597.

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It’s a cultural heritage that earned a Unesco title, but for the Lee family of doctors, it’s a legacy that runs deep in their family. They inherited knowledge and century-old research and prescriptive philosophies that they’re trying to bring into the modern age.

In the olden days, people were treated and medicated to improve their general well-being, and having a clear complexion was just a secondary effect. This is a holistic approach that all doctors held in diagnosing and treating their patients.

#2 – BEAUTY ISN’T SKIN DEEP – There’s no magic brew in the ancient textbook, no one-size-fits-all treatment. The documentary follows two patients, one diagnosed with obesity and another with severe acne.

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Weight loss is closely tied to the diet of a body type, and remedies include herbs and medicines brewed specifically for the body type, stimulation of meridian points, and by correcting the body’s impaired posture.

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Poor skin can be treated at the surface, but these doctors do not believe in just application of creams to improve one’s overall well-being and complexion.

Remedies include acupuncture, masks, leech therapy, and other patients are prescribed traditional brews from the hospital’s lab, which looks more like a kitchen than a pharmacist’s!


The doctors are constantly improving and researching ingredients and herbs that can be used in their treatment. Rice, for example, is a daily staple in Korean diet, and it’s also used for medicinal, beauty and cosmetic treatments.

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Even after he’s punched out after work, one of the doctors rethinks what he knows about the traditional rice-based alcoholic beverage, the ‘makgeolli’, working closely with makgeolli producers to produce a super brew, which he tests on himself.

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This discovery was a breakthrough for him and his patient, and by the admission of the other doctors featured, there’s still a lot that they don’t know about the hidden potential of herbs and ingredients.

Watch ‘The New Age Of Medicine’ by Oh Seok Hoon (Korea) on Viddsee:

‘The New Age Of Medicine’ is part of Korea Next, a documentary channel on Viddsee by Discovery Channel. Check out the rest in the series, Nanjing Calling, Singapore Stories, and Super Japan.

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