South Korea is the new destination for health tourism

South Korea is the new destination for health tourism

According to the Korean Tourism Organization over 2.5 million foreigners have received medical treatment at Korean medical institutions since 2009. Moreover, during the last 13 years, the total number of “medical travelers” has increased 22.7% per year (excluding the COVID-19 crisis).

The key point for this progress has been the coalition of a number of players inside the medical tourism industry: from government (Medical Korea and KHIDI) to the hospitality business, including agencies like Medical Avenue.

The tourism infrastructure includes the best airport in the world (Incheon International Airport, ICN), a solid the network of hotels and the excellent fast speed train service (KTX). Additionally, new touristic attractions and entertainment venues funded by Korean conglomerates (Samsung, LG, KIA, Lotte, et. al.)

Why is South Korea a strong destination for medical tourism?

The main reason is the high quality of medical services in South Korea:

  • Medical schools entrance is reserved for less than 3% of applicants
  • 70% of medical professionals have additional education and practice abroad (USA, Germany, Japan)
  • The National Medical Insurance is universal and government-controlled
  • Investment in high-tech medical devices is part of the government annual budget
  • Collaboration between private and public sectors (Samsung , Hyundai, Severance, Cha Group and other private entities own medical institutions)
  • Medical Tourism is regulated by the Korean Health Industry Development Institute (safe and reliable)

Several hospitals in the country operate medical devices only found at elite hospitals: Proton-Beam Therapy Center at Samsung Medical Center, Elekta’s Gamma Knife and Infinity (Radiotherapy) at Severance Hospital among other state-of-the-art medical devices. This is not including the many MRI, CT and PET-CT machines located at several Health Checkup Centers and even plastic surgery clinics.

Cha Ilsan Hospital (Cha Group)

“New” South Korea keeps improving

Finally, we have to add the dynamic social evolution this country is experiencing. It is now a milestone time for South Korea as the new generation is reforming the landscape to push the nation into the next global step.

The trend will keep on, not only that attached to K-Pop, K-movies and dramas, but more into service and medical sectors. We expect for more international patients to come per year. That will translate into more investment and better conditions for foreigners looking for medical treatment in the nation. Cancer treatment, liver transplant from a living donor, infertility treatment, neurosurgery and of course, plastic surgery, will attract foreigners looking for better solutions. All this, in addition to the increasingly popular health check up programs (one day). South Korea will be a go to destination for medical tourism for the next years! And we welcome you all!

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