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South Korea

South Korea/대한민국

Region: East Asia

Area: 100,210 thous. sq. km

Capital: Seoul

Big cities: Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu

Climate: temperate climate with subtropical monsoons in the south

Languages spoken: Korean

Religion: Christian, Buddhist

Local time: GMT+9

Calling code: +82

Currency: South Korean won

Credit Cards: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Diners Club

Visa: required by all except the nationals of Australia, USA, EU countries, Canada, Cyprus. For more detailed information please visit

Transport: air transport, rail transport, motor transport, water transport

International airports (cities): Incheon, Busan

The distinguishing feature of South Korean medicine is, first of all, the use of cutting-edge medical equipment. However, technology is not the only factor attracting tens of thousands of overseas tourists each year. Reasonable price policy for medical services is another point of attraction. The cost of most types of treatment and diagnostics in South Korea is by 25% lower from the prices in the USA for the same procedures and by 60% — in Japan. And individual services are no more expensive than in the neighbouring Singapore or Thailand. Besides, in medical service provision the technologies and achievements of Western medicine are applied along with ancient Korean medical traditions.  That is why South Korea is rightfully considered one of the leaders of health care in Asia.

Within the last ten years, health care system in Korea has gone through intensive development owing to sizable government investments into not-for-profit treatment centres. In May 2009, all state medical establishments were granted an official permit to offer medical services to overseas patients. Currently, 30 South Korean health care providers are members of the Council for Korea Medicine Overseas Promotion (CKMOP). Some of medical centres have already received international accreditation by the JCI.

To increase the quality of service to overseas patients, back in 2009 the Korean government established a special coordinating centre for ensuring support to overseas medical tourists. The country introduced special medical visas for medical tourists for the term of up to 1 year. Such approach and regulation of the activity of medical establishments at the state level is an additional guarantee of the best quality of medical services.

The country today has five priority fields of medical tourism, namely: complex diagnostics (it is possible to undergo multiple medical tests and get the results all in one day), plastic and reconstructive surgery, dentistry, dermatovenerology, and traditional Oriental medicine. South Korea is famed for outstanding achievements in the sphere of oncology, infertility treatment, transplantation of organs and bone marrow.

Plastic and reconstructive surgery is the second most demanded procedure among overseas patients. Every year, there is a growing number of patients arriving to Korea for lifts, rhinoplasty, and breast correction. People come here for more complicated surgeries as well: autologous fat transplantation (also called fat injection, fat transfer, fat grafting) or facial bone correction. By the official data of South Korean Ministry of health Care, Seoul hosted over 60 thousand people in search of beauty and perfection in 2010.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, has medical centres specialising in the treatment of cardio-vascular system, pathologies of brain vessels, oncology, respiratory diseases, gastroenterology, neurosurgery, and dentistry. They are all equipped with state-of-the-art technology surpassing that of many European clinics. Surgeries on the heart are performed using minimally invasive methods, and da Vinci Surgical System is widely applied in conducting surgical interventions.

Punchon (Punch'ŏn-dong) town is a well-known gateway for overseas patients coming to treat throat diseases and paralysis of vocal chords. Its clinics are especially popular among vocal singers, opera singers, and announcers.

Korea has numerous centres of Oriental medicine applying exclusively non-surgical treatment of joint and spinal diseases. Overseas patients are offered to undergo the therapy with traditional methods of Korean medicine: acupuncture with bee venom, burning and fomentation with local herbs, compressed air therapy, and wax treatment among others. Ancient methods proved to be equally effective compared to vanguard Western technologies.  

There is no difficulty in visiting the “Country of Morning Silence” which is another name given to South Korea.  There is excellent air connection between Korea and most countries of the world. 

Recommended time for treatment: September to November.


South Korea is truly rich in balneological health resort complexes. They are created on the basis of hot mineral springs, which number over 70 in this country. Their resources are actively applied in swimming pools, saunas, massage rooms, and fitness centres. Korea is famed with ancient balneological traditions, which embraced all the fascination of Asian exotics.

Water is derived from great depths and possesses healthful qualities for a human organism: it produces a relaxing effect and helps cure many diseases. This water contains numerous minerals, and although the composition depends on the region, mainly it is rich in chrome, iron, iodine, zinc, potassium, manganese, calcium, sodium, radon, and other elements. The very first Korean mineral springs were opened in the Middle Ages Onyang area, now known as Asan, in the Province of Chungcheongnam-do. According to historical chronicles, the monarchs of Joseon/Chosŏn dynasty specifically came here for treatment. 

Today hot springs (“onch’on” in Korean) turned into a popular recreational destination for residents and visitors from other countries. Saunas and water pools are constructed of exotic materials: yellow clay, nephrite, elvan, and rare wood species. The effect is furthered by adding salts, Oriental herbs, sage, jasmine, ginseng, mandarin, pine needles, or calamus herb into the water. Hot yellow clay springs are especially popular among the overseas visitors. Yellow clay is known to produce a favourable effect on female health, relieves stress and purifies the skin.

Many swimming pools are equipped with waterfalls and spraying water jets which provide additional massaging effect, various supplementary recovery complexes which customarily include sauna, sleeping chamber, fitness centre, and open-air pools. At such “aquatic recreation” centres you can spend several days at a row: practically all of them have hotels, restaurants, and all required infrastructure.

Along with open-air pools and thermal springs, South Korea offers popular baths with green tea, herbs, traditional rice wines, and regular red wines. Fish therapy is a very funny and healthful procedure, which is when special kind of fishes cleanses the skin, getting it rid of old cells.

Patients will be offered to remove toxins from their body and regain spiritual balance. There are saunas embracing various Korean traditions: clay, nephrite, coal, amethyst, and oxygen. The final stroke in the course of such procedures may be full body skin cleansing using scrubs with lavender and sea salts. In some spa saloons you can also enjoy “Watsu” — special underwater massage performed on a patient in the warm spring water, applied in treating musculoskeletal diseases.

Seoraksan is the most picturesque area in South Korea with numerous woods and beaches. Its major attraction is hot mineral springs applied in the form of massage baths and saunas. Local residents are frequent visitors in Syroksan in spring and autumn. It is especially popular to come here for field picnics during these seasons of change to watch the nature’s rebirth and falling asleep.

We cannot but mention the famous springs of Choksan (Chŏksan) with thermal water +55°С — bathing there is an ultimate pleasure. Healing underground waters enriched with most healthful minerals relax all body muscles and help in treating such diseases as: atopy (allergies), anaemia, and chronic fatigue. Several hours spent by the representatives of the fair sex in this water will produce a visible rejuvenating and invigorating effect on their skin. Most springs can boast both open-air and indoor pools. Open-air pools with hot water are open for swimming all the year round.

3*- from €50;

4*- from €100;

5*- from €135.

Kimchi (best known Korean snack made of napa cabbage, green onion, cucumber and chili pepper), guk (thin vegetable soup), jjigae (Western-style stew with seafood, meat, vegetables and spices).

Seoraksan National Park (fabulous mountain range), Bulguksa Temple (Buddhist temple with seven items of the National Treasures of South Korea), the Hwaseong Fortress (early modern military architecture dated 1789; UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Haeundae Beach (Korea’s most popular summer beach and perfect place to fly kites and collect shells in cold season), Pusan International Film Festival, Sorak Waterpia (thermal water resort with numerous swimming pools and aqua parks).

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