A grim frugality has settled over this export powerhouse that once burst with optimism—and silicone. Cosmetic surgery took off here after South Korea's spectacular recovery from its currency crisis a decade ago. Rising living standards allowed ever-growing numbers of men and women to get the wider eyes, whiter skin and higher nose bridges that define beauty for many here. But turmoil coursing through the financial world and then into the global economy has hit South Korea hard, as it has many middle-income countries. A particular chill has seeped into the plastic surgery industry, emptying waiting rooms and driving clinics out of business.