Pharmacies and Medication in Korea

Category : Health/Fitness / Surviving in Korea
Nov 28, 2014

Pharmacies and Medication in Korea

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Pharmacies in Korea are easily identifiable, often within a stone’s throw of each other in heavily-populated areas. They can be found by looking for the words (yak) or 약국 (yak guk), which mean “medicine” and “pharmacy”, respectively. Some are closed on Sundays, but many located in malls, subway stations, and bus terminals remain open seven days a week. If you need to access a 24-hour pharmacy in Seoul, dial 120 (press 9 for English) – they will give you information on how to get to the closest pharmacy in your area.

 

Almost all medicine is kept behind the counter. The pharmacist will show you the package of what you need after you describe your ailment. The price is posted on the box, and medications rarely go above around 10,000KRW. Dosage information is written in Korean, but occasionally you can find it in English. Other items, like bandages and vitamin supplements, are not kept behind the counter. Many pharmacists have a basic command of English, but in case they don’t, you can print out this sheet and have them point to the relevant information:

 

You Might Hear…

English:

Korean:

Pronunciation Guide:

Where does it hurt?

어디가 아프십니까?

Eodiga apusimnikka?

Take this (three) times a day

하루에 (세) 번 드세요

Harue (se) beon deuseyo

Every (four) hours

(네) 시간마다

(Ne) siganmada

(Half an hour) before/after eating

식전/식후 (삼십 분)

Sik-jeon/siku (Samsip bun)

While eating

식간

Sikgan

 

Types of Medicines:

Both Western and Eastern medicine are widely available in Korea. The Western medications are all similar or the same to brands found around the world. If the pharmacist doesn’t have the particular brand of medication you take, they will offer an alternative. Otherwise, you can visit a doctor first to get a prescription for a medication widely available here.

 

à Note: Although you must always ask a pharmacist for medications, most medications don’t require a prescription from a doctor. Medications commonly used to treat minor problems like cold, headaches, and indigestion can be easily received by simply asking. If you’re unsure whether or not you’ll need a prescription, visit the pharmacist first to find out.

 

Refer to this guide for commonly-used foreign medicines:

Sickness

Foreign Brand

Korean Name

Average Price

Sinus cold

Contac Gold (night)

Contac Gold (콘택골드)

2,500KRW (10 doses)

Headache

Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen (이부프로펜)

2,000KRW (10 doses)

Acetaminophen

PenzalQ (펜잘큐)

2,000KRW (10 doses)

Flu

Tylenol

Green Colshot-F (그린콜샷-애프)

2,000KRW (5 doses)

Indigestion (overeating)

Antacids

Bearse (베아제)

2,000KRW (10 doses)

Diarrhea

Imodium

Notal-S (노탈에스)

2,000KRW (10 doses)

 

Basic Phrases:

Body language is an essential part of any foreigner’s communication repertoire. Below are some great basic phrases to use in conjunction with the usual body language routine:

 

Body Language Phrases

English:

Korean:

Pronunciation Guide:

It hurts here

여기가 아파요

Yeogiga apayo

I have a cramp here

여기에 경련이 났어요

Yeogie kyeong-nyeon-i nasseoyo

I can’t move this

여기를 움직일 수가 없어요

Yeogireul umjigil suga eop-seo-yo

 

If what you’re feeling cannot be expressed through these basic phrases and body language, then refer to this guide here:

 

Basic Phrases When at the Pharmacy:

English:

Korean:

Pronunciation Guide:

I feel…

저는…

Jeoneun…

Dizzy

어지러워요

Eojireo-woyo

Drowsy/sleepy

졸려요

Jollyeoyo

Hot and cold

더운데 춥기도해요

Deounde chubgido haeyo

Nauseous

메슥거려요

Meseuk-georyeoyo

Weak

힘이 없어요

Himi eobseoyo

I have (a)…

저는…

Jeoneun…

Asthma

천식이 있어요

Chonsigi isseoyo

Cold

감기에 걸렸어요

Gamgie geollyeosseoyo

Cough

기침을 해요

Gichimeul haeyo

Fever

열이 나요

Yeori nayo

Headache

두통이 있어요

Dutong-i issoyo

Hangover

숙취예요

Sukchwi-yeyo

Menstrual cramps

생리통이에요

Saeng-ri-tong-iyeyo

Sore throat

목이 아파요

Mogi apayo

 

If you would prefer to speak to an English-speaking pharmacist, then you’re better off visiting a pharmacy in Itaewon or Gangnam (which is a region famous for its medical tourism). If what’s bothering you is a fairly common ailment (cold, flu, or headache), it’s unlikely that you’ll have any problems speaking to someone with a very basic level of English. However, if it’s a little more complicated, the trip to Itaewon or Gangnam might be worth it.

Tags : Health. Medicine. Pharmacy

Gabrielle interned as a Content Creator for Work'n'Play during her exchange trip to Chung-Ang University in 2012-2013. She graduated from Vancouver Island University in May 2014 with her BA in Global Studies. She is now a Master's student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada. The things she misses most about her year in Korea are: going for makgeolli + jeon with friends, exploring Seoul's new and old hidden treasures and getting to practice Korean every day. You can connect with her on Twitter at @MsGabrielle or email her at gabrielle.bishop@hotmail.com.

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