South Korea, the Korean culture, and Korean actors are extremely popular throughout Asia. Thanks to this popularity, South Korea has been attracting a slew of medical tourists from neighboring nations—mostly Japan and China—for some time. Only recently, however, has the Korean government begun looking into offering medical care to Westerners.
The Korean government has already invested heavily in its infrastructure, making South Korea the most wired place on earth and one of the most convenient and hassle-free Asian destinations for travelers. For instance, English-speaking travelers in South Korea can dial 1330 at any time of the day or night to reach a bilingual operator who will offer translation assistance or travel information.
Now, the country is investing in its health-care infrastructure to make medical tourism just as easy. Prices in South Korea are somewhat higher than in some of the other Southeast Asian destinations, but in many cases, you’re paying for a higher level of service, sparkling cleanliness, and other amenities that can add up to more value.
Hospitals: Several South Korean hospitals are in the process of applying for JCI accreditation to increase their appeal to Western patients. Many of the nation’s doctors have trained in the United States and UK and are fluent in English. The government is working on a program to help train hospital nurses to learn medical English. Many hospitals also have international patient centers and coordinators for foreign patients.
South Korean Embassies: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/south-korea
Foreign Embassies in South Korea: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/south-korea
Local News (in English)
“The Dong-A Ilbo” (“East Asia Daily”): http://english.donga.com/
Languages spoken: Korean (official language), but English is widely spoken
Personality: Warm and efficient
Infrastructure: First World
Time zone: GMT+9
Country phone code: 82
Electricity: 220V, 60Hz
Weights and measures: Metric system
Elevation concerns: None
Climate: There are four distinct seasons, with cold, dry winters and hot, humid, rainy summers.
Clothing: Western-style clothing is acceptable. Dress according to the season.
Getting online: Fax, Internet, and e-mail services typically are available in all major hotels and in cybercafés.
Visa required: No
Immunizations required: None
Public health considerations: None
Cultural Do’s and Don’ts
- Do remember that Korean family names are first—for example, Dr. Kim Yong-joon is Dr. Kim to you.
- Do use your right hand when giving or receiving a gift.
- Do remove your shoes before entering a Korean home.
- Don’t beckon a person with your palm up and curling your fingers toward you.
- Don’t use your hands to pick up food.
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