Pregnancy and Giving Birth in Korea

Category : Health/Fitness
Nov 28, 2014

Pregnancy Tests

Pregnancy tests are available in all pharmacies. Pharmacy is 약국 (yak gook) in Korean, so look for this sign. Tests vary, like anywhere. If you have a preferred brand ask for it or buy a few different tests to make sure they are reliable. Pregnancy tests are very cheap, between 3,000 and 5,000 won. When requesting a test, ask: 임신진단 키트를 사고 싶습니다? (im-shin jin-dan kiteu-uel- sa-go-shib-seum-nida/ can I have a pregnancy test please?). Staff in pharmacies will usually be able to speak sufficient English to help you out, especially in areas with high numbers of foreigners. You can even try asking for a brand name and they will understand.


Once you have taken a pregnancy test you can visit a hospital or doctor to receive a secondary test for confirmation. When visiting the hospital, the doctor’s level of English should be sufficient enough to understand your situation.


Finding a doctor

The language barrier can be a source of anxiety, so knowing whether you can communicate with your doctor is very important. It is common for pregnant women to attend check-ups once or twice a month.


à Note: some people don’t realize that the doctor you see for all the pre-natal checks will not be the doctor who delivers the baby. This is because there are two kinds of clinics for pregnant women. The smaller of the two only does prenatal care. You have to visit a larger delivery clinic or hospital to have the baby. There the doctor will be different from the one you have been visiting throughout the pregnancy.


Where to have a baby

There are two main options regarding where to have a baby in Korea: a hospital (hospitals are always large university or general hospitals) or a private clinic. It is of course possible to give birth at home, although this is not commonly done in Korea.



Korean general hospitals are one way to go. The level of English is generally decent, but certainly better in the bigger hospitals. The biggest hospitals usually have the most experience with foreigners.


Private clinics

In the private clinics the obstetrician or gynecologist (OB/GYN will usually speak a decent amount of English, but the other help might not be able to. There are some private clinics that specialize in pregnancy and delivery. Note that some clinics do not do deliveries, just pre-birth check-ups.


Homebirth/Natural birth

The other option is having a home/natural birth. The first job then is to find a midwife or doula. There are plenty of online resources for this. Check this website, Korea Baby Network for information on having a natural birth at home and for information on parenting in Korea. The list at the bottom of this article also has contact information for midwives.


Birthing Process

The Korean procedure is slightly different from what you might expect in other countries. One of the biggest contrasts is that men are not really part of the birthing process in Korea. They will often not even be at the hospital, but rather waiting for news that the baby has been born. This can sometimes be difficult for foreign men to appreciate.


So if you are a foreign man with a Korean partner, you might need to make it very clear that you want to be part of the whole process. Korean doctors are usually accepting of this once they have been told.


In Korea is illegal to find out the sex of the baby which is different from pregnancy laws in other countries. You may be able to find out the sex a few weeks before the expected due date, but otherwise don’t ask the doctor. Korean mothers go about asking in a sly way. They will often ask, “Does the baby look strong or beautiful?” or “should I be preparing a pink or blue baby room?” You can try this too if your keen to know what your little one is going to be.



Wherever you work, your employer is legally obliged to provide you with health insurance. It is illegal for them not to do so. With National Health Insurance you will be entitled to monthly check-ups during pregnancy, including a \500,000 rebate (see Pink card section) and for the childbirth itself.



In terms of cost, having a baby in Korea is cheaper than in most countries without subsidized healthcare, however it is not free nor will insurance cover the total cost. With national health insurance, a natural birth with an epidural and a private room in a large hospital will cost about \1.4 million. While the same in a private clinic (Best Clinic) costs about 380,000. The quality of the recovery rooms also ranges, so you should try to check it out beforehand.


à Note: you are actually paying for the use of the hospital/clinic room, rather than the actual childbirth which is covered under national health insurance. Prices vary from place to place and depending on the duration of your stay.


Pink Mom Card/Go-un Mom Card (고운 맘 카드)

The Korean government runs a scheme where expecting mums are entitled to \500,000 for one baby and \700,000 for twins of free medical care for the duration of their pregnancy. This scheme extends to foreign couples-to-be as well, assuming National Health insurance is held. Once your doctor or OB/GYN has confirmed your pregnancy, you will be given an application form which you must take to your local Kookmin (KB/국민) or Shinhan(신한) Bank. You can then open a temporary debit account with \500,000 to use on check-up fees. You do not have to pay this money back. The card for this account is a pink card, also known as a go-un card (go-un translates to beautiful or delicate).


Foreigners must present the following documents at their bank, their local district office (Kookmin Geongyeong Boheomjisa/국민건겅보험지사 ) or the post office (Ujaeguk/우체국) to be granted the subsidy:

ü  Your passport;

ü  Your national health insurance (국민건강보험);

ü  Your Alien Registration Card;

ü  The application Form; and

ü  The confirmation of pregnancy document from your hospital.


The way the card works is you are allowed \40,000 per check-up session. So, if your session costs \50,000, you will only pay \10,000.


For more information, please contact the National Health Insurance Corporation at:

Ø  02-390-2000 (English Help Line)


Maternity leave

If the mother works, she is may be entitled to paid leave. If the mother works for a large company she will receive 2 months of paid leave from her company and then a third month paid by Employment Insurance (EI). If the mother works for a small company the three months will be paid by EI. In that case, the company is not responsible for paying her pregnancy leave. If the mother is a foreigner she is not automatically enrolled in EI. It’s a decision to be made between the employer and the employee. Please see our article about Unemployment Insurance for more details. If the foreign woman is not covered by EI and works for a small company she will not be eligible to receive any paid maternity leave.


The dates between which maternity leave is taken should be agreed upon between the pregnant woman and the employer. These dates can be slightly flexible, depending on when you would like to start your leave. According to article 74 of The Act on Equal Employment and Support for Work-Family Reconciliation, “45 days or more shall be allocated after the childbirth”. Most mothers take one month before they deliver the baby and 2 months after.


Leaving the Country when Pregnant

Airlines have different policies regarding pregnant women flying. It is advised to check with the airline you are using, but Korean Air operates the following policy:


u  Women less than 32-weeks (eight months) pregnant can travel as regular passengers.

u  Women between 32-36 weeks of pregnancy are permitted to travel, as long as they can present a medical certificate from their doctor that has been issued in the 72-hours prior to departure. The certificate must be signed by the OB/GYN and state the estimated delivery date, number of previous childbirths, the number of weeks of pregnancy prior to the flight date, and that the passenger is medically stable to travel. They should also state the period of pregnancy when booking the flight.

u  You must fill in a declaration form on the day of departure at the check-in counter.

u  Women that are more than 37-weeks pregnant are not permitted to fly due to safety concerns.


à Note: Women who are expecting more than one child are subject to different conditions.


Emergency Calling

The number for the emergency services is 119. Don’t worry if you can’t speak much Korean, as translators are available in a variety of languages (English, Japanese, Chinese are all available, amongst others). It is worth memorizing your address, or places you spend most time, as the emergency services can only trace your location if you are calling from a landline or cell phone.


In very rare circumstances, there might not be anyone to translate your call. Should this happen, you can call the Emergency Medical Information Center on 1339. They offer a 24-hour service with English speaking doctors to help you.


In the case that you don’t have a cell phone or a landline phone, emergency calls can be made free from coin-operated phones, however in Korea there are not many pay phone available since everyone has a cell phone. Ask someone for help on the street even if they can’t speak English. They will gladly let you borrow their phone if they can see you are in danger.


à Note: No area codes apply to any of the emergency numbers.


Hospitals in Seoul





Seoul National University Hospital

101 Daehang-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul


Seoul Asan Medical Center

134 Sinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul


Gangnam Severance Hospital

146-92 Dogok-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul


Samsung Seoul Medical Center

50 Irwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul


Soochunhyang University Hospital

657 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul


Kyunghee University Hospital

1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul


Hanyang University Hospital

17 Haengdang-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul


Seoul St. Mary’s University Hospital

505 Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul


Chung-ang University Hospital

224-1 Heuseok-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul


Migrant worker’s Hospital

137-22 Garibong-1 dong, Guro-gu, Seoul


Ewha Women’s University Hospital

911-1, Mock-dong, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul


Korea University Hospital

126-1, Ska, Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul




Midwife Contact Information and Parenting Groups







Cynthia Loiselle

Ara-Dong, 제주도 제주 690-121

book. com/




Casey Kim





Jessica Medford





Lara Kling





Reach Charlie






Maternity and Newborn Photographers





053 762 6688

Obstetrical Care

Kim Soon Seon




Obstetrical Care

Jeju Parents' Club





MediFlower Clinic







Rosa Kim




010- 2447- 8231



Yonsei Women and Children's Hospital


http://yonseimoa. index.php













Birthing In Korea











Keun Hae





Expat Parents’ Forum






Tags : Pregnancy.


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