Medical Tourism in Korea

Category : Health/Fitness / Visa/Legal Issues/Tax
Nov 28, 2014

Medical Tourism in Korea


Every year, more and more foreigners are choosing to come to Korea. But they’re not coming to travel or to work. So what are they coming here to do? They’re coming for medical tourism, a booming industry throughout East Asia.


Korean medical treatment is amassing a great reputation around the world. More and more foreigners are opting to undergo examinations, dental work, surgical procedures and alternative therapies in Korea’s cutting-edge facilities. Having a wealth of both oriental and modern medicine experts is a huge selling point, too.


Benefits of traveling abroad to get medical treatment

Some people are quick to point out that foreigners end up paying higher prices than Koreans for medical services. While there is definitely some truth to this, that is something you kind of buy into with medical tourism. You will certainly be paying less than you would back home for private healthcare. As well, many doctors are now offering their services in English, Chinese, or Japanese (depending on the clinic), in addition to providing excellent standards of care.


Even for foreigners from countries that provide free healthcare, the option of getting immediate treatment is preferable to being on long waiting lists. Some foreigners are also attracted by the prospect of recuperating away from home in a new and interesting country.


Visa Requirements for Medical Tourists

If you do not live in Korea, you must apply to hospitals here to receive treatment. Once your application has been given the OK, you will be invited to receive treatment via a written confirmation. The visa needed is dependent on the length of treatment. There are two types of visa issued in such situations, both temporary:

  1. C3-M visa: in case of a stay less than three months
  2. G1-M visa: in case of a stay of more than three months but less than one year


How to Apply for a Medical Tourist Visa:

Applicants for the visa must present these documents to the Korean embassy in their home country:

  • Visa application form
  • Passport
  • One passport size photo
  • Proof of the medical treatment required by the applicant (this must be an official document)
  • Document(s) to prove the applicant can financially cover the cost of treatment
  • Copy of the invite to come to Korea from the applicant’s healthcare provider


  • Note: In order to receive an invite from a healthcare provider, a patient must correspond with them directly. Once the procedure and all the details have been finalized, the invite will be sent.


Process for Foreigners already living in Korea

If you are already living legally in Korea, you won’t have to do any of the above. An Alien Registration Card (ARC) will be enough to proceed with any treatments required.


What treatments are available in Korea?

Almost any treatment you can think of is offered in Korea. Korea’s medical tourism industry is thriving and the projected numbers indicate that the influx of people looking for cheaper treatments will continue to increase. Here are some popular options:


  • Dental Work
  • Dentistry is of a very high standard in Korea. Many dentists even claim to only serve the expat community. The standard of English spoken by dentists here is good and many have studied abroad. Finding places that advertise dental treatment isn’t exactly difficult.
  • Skin Treatments
  • It is no secret that Korea is a country obsessed with skin products (Korea’s men are the largest skin care consumers in the world) and the specialists here are experts in areas like pigmentation issues, improving the appearance of wrinkles, and scar correction. Procedures such as liposuction and mole/cyst removals are also available.
  • Hair Transplants and Removal
  • For hair transplants, hairline correction, hair restoration, hair removal and other hairy situations, many specialists offer very affordable care.
  • Cancer Treatments
  • With such high costs elsewhere, many people choose Korea to seek cancer treatments. One in four Koreans die of cancer, so it is very high on their medical agenda. The National Cancer Center in Gyeonggi-do is one of the most advanced cancer treatment and research facilities in the world. There are also many other facilities providing affordable procedures for those looking outside of their home country.
  • Cosmetic Surgeries
  • Korea has become known as the best place in the world to get plastic surgery. The culture of getting things ‘tweaked’ rather than having large operations has made Korea’s high-quality facilities and excellent doctors the fulcrum of the biggest money-spinner in the medical tourism industry. The prices here are very affordable and the availability is mind-blowing. Whether it is enlargements or reductions, liposuction, eyelid surgeries, or nose jobs, Korea has everything the quickly evolving world of cosmetic surgery has to offer.


Want to find a foreigner-friendly medical center? Visit WorknPlay’s Medical Centers Directory for Foreigners.




Tags : Medical. Dental. Plastic Surgery. Health.