Medical Tourism In South Korea

South Korea

South Korea is one of the most stunning tourist destinations in Asia, offering a blend of tradition and modernity. Travelers have so much to discover and explore because of the rich culture and heritage that Korea offers. The country has so many beautiful landscapes and panoramic sites, South Korea should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list.

South Korea was listed amongst the “Hot Destinations for Medical Tourism” by CNN media company. The country is known for spinal surgeries, cancer treatment, herbal medicine and cosmetic procedures, hosting state-of-the-art hospitals, utilizing supercomputers for treatment purposes and making use of innovative procedures. The country has 26 JCI accredited hospitals and clinics. KOIHA is another accreditation which covers aspects like basic value patient care, administrative management and performance management.

The KOIHA standards cover four main domains: basic value system, patient care system, administrative management system, and performance management system.

Why consider South Korea?

Medical tourism in South Korea is popular due to numerous reasons. For starters, their treatments are affordable, especially for patients in the USA, Japan and UAE.  Compared to their home countries, the differences in treatment procedures and rates are huge because the Korean government believes in affordable healthcare and have implemented a supportive system for the same purpose.

Some of the medical institutions in South Korea also offer price packaging especially for regular checkups and plastic surgeries. Tourists can save up to 40% including flight, travel and accommodation costs.

South Korean hospitals are equipped with modern equipment and utilize advanced procedures. The IT systems at these hospitals have been purchased from leading companies such as Samsung, Huawei and LG. Advanced diagnostic technologies are also available.

South Korean doctors have a strong academic background, based on 10 to 12 years of study and several internships. Many doctors also obtain certifications at national and international levels.

Healthcare and Medical Tourism in South Korea

According to research, South Korea will be hosting over a million medical tourists within the next few years. The country is also considered to be the most innovative based on the Bloomberg Innovation Index. Several research hubs have been set up with their roots in medical equipment, biotechnology and pharmacy. Thus, patients have access to many innovative treatments which speed up recovery.

South Korea offers many skincare products that are renowned all over the world. Considering cosmetic surgery, their per capita rate is the highest. In fact, one in every three women in South Korea has undergone some kind of surgical procedure if they are between 19 and 29 years. While cosmetic clinics are sprouted all over the country, most of them are saturated in the Gangnam District. South Korea is known for performing an inordinate amount of cosmetic procedures annually. Tourists usually seek anti-aging, body contouring and breast shaping treatments.

Other medical treatments like cancer treatment, cardiovascular disease treatment and orthopedics are also offered, but cosmetic care and plastic surgery are South Korean’s specialty. The country boasts of 90% success rate for the most common cancers, leaving Canada and the USA behind. Their treatment for gastric cancer is the best with a survival rate of nearly 70%.

South Korea was the first country to use electrocauterization, which is a technique for removing harmful tissues. Robotic surgeries and proton therapies are also used. Gachon University Gil Medical Center and other hospitals use AI based supercomputers for storing data related to cancer patients. These systems are also capable of suggesting the most appropriate treatment plan.

Lodging and Hotels

The average accommodation cost for a single person is around fifty dollars per night at a facility located on the outskirts of the city. Most of the tourists prefer staying at hotels, which vary in terms of the standards and services. If you’re outside Busan, Seoul, Jeju Island and other key destinations, accommodation would be inexpensive. But if you are right in the middle of the city during holidays or festivals, the rates would likely be much higher.

Resorts are another option if you want a unique experience by the sea.

Airlines that fly directly from United States to South Korea 

  • Delta
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • American Airlines
  • Jin Air
  • United
  • Hawaiian Airlines

Other airlines that fly to South Korea

  • Japan Airlines
  • China Airlines
  • Qantas
  • ANA (All Nippon Airways)
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Hainan Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • LOT
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Philippine Airlines
  • AirAsia X
  • Air China
  • Aeromexico
  • Finnair
  • Air Canada
  • Qatar Airways
  • Xiamen Airlines
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • Thai Airways
  • Air Europa
  • British Airways
  • Aeroflot
  • Czech Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Air India
  • Sichuan Airlines
  • KLM
  • Hong Kong Airlines
  • Uzbekistan Airways
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Scoot

Climate and Weather

The country enjoys the four seasons, properly distinguished from each other. Winters are cold, dry and long. Summers are hot, humid and short. Spring and autumn are pleasant, but don’t last too long. Rainfall is sufficient throughout the year, usually over 100 centimeters. Droughts are known to occur once in 8 years.

Entrance Requirements and Visa

US and Canadian citizens traveling to South Korea for tourism or business don’t need any visa. Both can stay in South Korea without a visa for up to 90 days. If you’re from another country, then you may have to apply for a visa beforehand or on arrival.

Languages and Culture

Korean is the official language of the country, featuring a structure and grammar similar to the Japanese language. Dialects and accents vary from region to region, but are similar, so they can easily be understood by anyone.

The locals mostly follow Buddhism, Christianity and Confucianism, a social and political philosophy that is engraved in their culture. New Year’s Day and Chuseok are their most celebrated festivals with food, games and fun for the entire family. The cuisine is based on vegetables, meat and rice. Kimchi, featuring fermented vegetables, enjoys the status of the national dish.

Entertainment and Tourist Attractions

Jeju is probably the most popular tourist destination in South Korea. It is home to stunning volcanic landscapes, beautiful underground caves and scenic beaches. The highest peak of the country, Halla Mountain, is also located here.

Other attractions in the region include the Jeju Love Land (a theme park), the 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (tombs, shrines, royal palaces and hanok villages) and the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).  

Overview of South Korea 

Capital of South Korea: Seoul

Languages: Korean, although many hospitals and clinics have staff that speak English.

Suggested Vaccines: Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid booster

Time Zones: GMT +9

Country Code for Telephone Calls: +82

Currency: Korean Won (KRW)


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The Average Cost of Treatment Abroad

These estimates are merely the average cost of the medical procedure in your desired country, and may be higher or lower depending on the healthcare provider. This estimate also does not included things like flights, hotel, transportation, food or anything outside of the medical treatment. Each healthcare organization has their own unique cost for medical care.

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