South Korea, a leader in medical tourism services pioneering the future of medicine

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Why medical tourism in South Korea?

South Korea (or simply Korea) is an IT leader that excels in the digital age of the 21st century. Simultaneously, the country benefited from Hallyu (a Korean Wave), an explosion in Korea’s global popularity across all industries, including fashion, food, and entertainment such as K-pop and K-drama. Moreover, Korea has become a medical tourism powerhouse, triggering medical Hallyu, showing its strong ability to be a global medical leader. With advanced medical equipment, smart IT-based medical technologies, smart hospitals, and innovative treatments, Korea has become a hotspot for doctors. Professional medical visiting agencies registered with the Department of Health and Welfare provide reliable medical visiting services, ranging from airport transfers to hospitalizations, treatments, surgeries and visits. Additionally, the Korean government runs an international medical tour coordinator license program to increase the satisfaction level of medical tourists.

The biggest advantage of Korean medical visits is the convergence of medical science and IT. Transplants, robotic surgeries, and endoscopic operations at Korean General Hospitals have best-in-class quality compared to other medical tourist destinations. In particular, Korea’s cancer survival rate is more than twice the average of OECD countries, thus boasting a world-class level.

Korea’s world-class medical services can be verified by statistical analysis of medical data.
The adoption rate of the electronic medical record (EMR) system by Korean medical institutions is among the highest in the world. In an index that rates robotic endoscopic surgery, medical equipment, diagnostic system and medical systems, Korea ranks second in the world, cementing its position as a medical powerhouse.

Integrated internal medicine

Korea is considered an international leader in cancer treatment. Four of the top 20 hospitals in the world for cancer treatment are based in Korea (including the fifth hospital). Moreover, hospitals, universities, and various research institutes in the country are dedicated to new medical technologies used for the treatment of cancer.

Many foreign patients who come to Korea undergo robotic surgeries to treat various cancers, including colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. The survival rate for patients with major cancers in Korea is the highest in the world. Additionally, approximately 1,000 physicians from around the world apply for medical training in Korea to learn the country’s integrated cancer treatment systems, including integrated precision medicine platforms that leverage clinical data on cancer patients, in addition to robotic surgeries.

Korea cancer centers provide one-stop services for prevention, screening, treatment, rehabilitation, and aftercare management. University hospitals, general hospitals and 12 government-appointed cancer centers offer the best cancer treatments in the world. Additionally, patients can receive equally comprehensive services for other major internal diseases.

Plastic surgery

With the Hallyu boom led by K-pop and K-drama worldwide, Korea is at the forefront of global beauty trends. For foreigners who aspire to K-beauty, plastic surgery in Korea has become a turning point in their lives, replacing a simple medical procedure.

Korea is a leader in plastic surgery, with a 25% share of the global beauty market. Korean plastic surgery technology has become a global standard, with Korean plastic surgeons writing medical textbooks for the rest of the world on the subject. In particular, the Korean facial liposuction technology used to create a V-shaped facial line without reshaping the bones is unmatched. It is no surprise that the country has recorded the highest number of facial liposuction cases in the world. In addition, Korea provides a reliable medical environment for patients, such as cameras installed in operating rooms and disclosure of the names of medical personnel who take part in operations. In addition, differentiated services including beauty classes and cultural programs for foreigners are also offered.

Cosmetic surgery is divided into invasive surgery, which cuts or punctures the skin, and minimally invasive or non-invasive surgery, which uses injections, laser or ultrasound waves. Minimally or non-invasive surgery, which is more affordable and carries less risk of side effects, is becoming increasingly popular among patients in their 20s and 30s who want instant, yet natural-looking results.

Dermatology

Korean celebrities are known for their flawless and beautiful skin, which is why Korea’s expertise in dermatological treatment and skin care has garnered a lot of attention. Dermatology clinics in Korea provide personalized medical services through scientific skin diagnosis while offering comprehensive beauty care services, from consultation and examination to operation and recovery.

Korea has world-renowned stem cell technology, which has anti-aging and immunity-boosting effects. As the demand for skin care services from foreign patients increases,
the korean government has launched a program allowing korean health and medical practitioners to work overseas. With this, many doctors and specialists in aesthetic procedures and post-procedure management have entered international markets.

Dermatology treatment is mainly divided into dermal laser treatment and skin care treatment. The laser treatment is administered after a personalized skin type analysis. Subsequently, a skin care follows. Recently, whitening, wrinkle treatment, filler injection for neck wrinkles and skin regeneration treatments have been popular.

Physical examination center

Korea’s physical examination system is becoming increasingly important as the importance of prevention, early diagnosis and timely treatment of serious illnesses increases globally. Korea ranks first in terms of adoption rate of its EMR system by medical institutions. It offers a one-stop shop encompassing a full range of services from examination to treatment. Korea offers fast examination and accurate reading through personalized physical examinations and state-of-the-art medical equipment. Once a disease is discovered, patients are referred to specialist hospitals. All of this helps people live longer, healthier lives.

Korea is the only country that offers citizens lifelong physical examinations. According to the Global Health Security Index, Korea ranks fifth among 194 countries in the world in terms of disease detection, leading disease prevention efforts. The rate of Korean hospitals that have Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines is more than double the OECD average, placing Korea fourth among OECD countries. Additionally, the country has a digital medical system through which users can easily book physical exams, answer pre-exam questionnaires and check the result with their mobile phones.


Physical examination programs are divided into basic, advanced and premium programs. Hospitals specializing in physical examinations have separate rooms for locals, foreigners and VIPs for stay examinations. These specialized physical examination programs are especially popular with foreign patients, as they can receive comprehensive, high-level physical examinations in a five-star hotel quality service and benefit from individual assistance from the coordinators.

To learn more about medical tourism in South Korea, you can visit the following virtual booth which belongs to KoreanTourism Organization (KTO).

You can also learn about the savings potentials of medical tourism for employers for free at this year’s Healthcare Revolution conference. Check out KTO’s sponsored session here.

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