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Presidential candidate makes free hair loss treatment his campaign pledge

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One in five South Koreans suffer from balding, according to the country’s Democratic Party

The South Korean ruling party’s presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung is trying to win the hearts and heads of voters going into the March election by promising to include hair loss treatment in the national health insurance plan.

Helping those “suffering from hair loss” is going to be among his priorities if he becomes president, Lee announced in a Facebook post on Friday.

“I will expand the national insurance plan’s coverage of hair loss treatment drugs and actively look into including hair transplants for the treatment of serious cases of hair loss as well,” he vowed.

The Democratic Party politician insisted that his plan will allow the creation of a stable market for hair loss medication in South Korea, promoting the development of new drugs to tackle the problem and lowering the price of the existing ones.

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Lee’s camp floated the idea of expanding national health insurance to cover hair loss treatment last week. The candidate even held a meeting with a group of voters who were affected by the problem.

The Democratic Party said that around 10 million of the country’s population of over 51 million have been suffering from hair loss. Those people have been forced to buy expensive drugs from abroad or resort to prostate medication as a cheaper substitute.

While many Koreans were enthusiastic about Lee’s initiative, there were some who accused him of pursuing a populist policy that is only going to put the country’s health insurance service under more financial pressure.

The 57-year-old responded to the critics in his post, arguing that “the anxiety, social phobia and severed relationships that people with hair loss suffer from are directly connected to the quality of life, and with the discriminatory attention they receive in everyday life, [hair loss] can’t be regarded as a personal matter.”

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