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Mind, Body, and Seoul


tea therapy 2

There is a misconception on the idea of healthcare being a privilege more than a need. In our local “fragmented” setting, there is a huge gap between regular Filipinos and high quality healthcare, given the cost of inefficiency at hospitals as well as the lack of equipment, advancement, maintenance, human resources, and conducive facilities. Some medical aspects including surgery and executive checkup are not even well-addressed in the Philippines.

What the country needs more than ever is an intervention in healthcare but as we hover over life and death, we consider going on a quest, even if that means flying in and out of the country for our specific health concern. This is where medical tourism comes in—traveling overseas for medical purposes.

Medical tourism isn’t necessarily an option just to gain access to the best facilities, even at a high cost. Some people consider medical tourism because of a certain country’s wider availability of resources, affordability, and a specialized after-care service—saving them from further hassle and medical bills.

One of the leading countries with great medical tourism facilities and services in terms of safety and convenience for foreigners—and a country closer to home—is South Korea. Its global recognition extends from its pop culture to technological advancement, urbanization concept, research, and efficient medical system.

South Korea ranks second among countries in the world with highly regarded facilities and equipment in OECD nations and fourth in the medical category, emerging as one of the most sought-after medical tourism destinations.

Internet research and crowdsourcing, however, are not advisable since medical tourism involves a lot of money and time, so we should only rely on information given by official tourism departments—one being the Korea Tourism Organization. Its offices across several countries go hand in hand with Korea’s hospitals and medical facilities to provide a comprehensive guide and information to tourists, as well as to promote the “tourism” concept through the duration of the patients’ stay.

Along with a group of doctors from different medical fields, we were invited by KTO to see Seoul hospitals at the forefront of Korea’s innovative medical tourism.

The Medical Tourism Information Center at the airport served as our starting point for the tour along with side trips to celebrated tourist spots like Bukcheon Hanok village, Namsan Seoul Tower, and Myeong-dong. We even had our tea therapy session and foot bath at the center and its own branch in Apgujeong across art houses and museums. It is the burgeoning wellness trend in Korea that makes use of a personality quiz to know which traditional tea can lessen the type of stress your body is going through.

Here are some of the leading hospitals that provide top-notch patient services, medical developments, and smooth access for foreign patients.

Severance Hospital, Yonsei University
This prestigious hospital in Sodaemun-gu was among the first birthplaces of Western medicines in the country, making it the pioneer hospital for medical tourism with the largest number of foreign patients. It has four subsidiary clinics—for cancer, having the largest scale in Asia in 2014; spine and cerebrovascular diseases; and dentistry along with 46 departments. On top of that, it delivers the most accurate executive consultation in Korea through its standalone check-up facility at Yonsei University.

Facilities for men and women are properly segregated and follow a floor-by-floor check-up procedure.

World-class features for international patients include an escort VIP service that helps patients find the quickest way to the next test section and maintenance programs such as an intensive posture therapy for body restructure and a golf and science program for injury prevention, customized based on the results of medical consultation.

Asan Medical Center
What you will immediately notice as you enter the lobby of Asan Medical Center in Songpa-gu are the kids’ drawings embedded on the cornerstones, called “Wall of Hope,” giving a concrete picture of this hospital’s consistent efforts and enthusiasm for life.

Korea’s largest general-tertiary hospital with one of the most sophisticated facilities boasts of three highly specialized institutes, 2,705 beds, 27 specialized centers, 44 clinical departments, and a research institute for the life sciences, leaving distinctive imprints in the Korean biomedical modernization like robotic surgeries. It has also established Korea’s first multidisciplinary institute, initiating the most comprehensive approach to cancer treatment with individualized care plans and surgeries for patients.

Asan takes pride in its competitive expat-patients services offered in its official tourist’s primary care clinic and administrative office called International Healthcare Center. Its staff members coordinate the complete package of services—from customized scheduling, language assistance, concierge services, such as airport pick-up and accommodations, to financial counseling and billing.

asan medical center

MizMedi Women’s Hospital
A women and childbirth hospital that lets patients stay in happy anticipation, MizMedi in Ganseo, Seoul, looks more like an eco-friendly kids’ museum with plushy accents here and there, a separate play room for the sick and well babies, plants at every corner, and an equally cool “choo-choo” train that runs along a mini railroad track in the ceiling of the hospital lobby.

MizMedi offers a total care program for international patients including an IVF, delivery, postpartum care, spa services in between, and even vaginal surgery after childbirth.

The hospital gained national recognition in the field of reproductive medicine, making it the best hospital to visit for those who can’t conceive due to complications. One of its most successful advanced researches is the iDream program that specializes in In-Vitro Fertilization of over 50 percent success rate.


Grand Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgery clinics are in every boxy building just blocks away from each other and ads that applaud double eyelids are plastered all over Seoul that frequenting the country will  make you debunk myths surrounding K-Pop stars who didn’t go under the knife yourself.

A rather unsettling demand for cosmetic surgery reached its peak since the K-Pop craze grew huge following around the world, making South Korea the number one country with the highest number of plastic surgeons per capita. On a lighter note, this has improved Korea’s medical tourism aspect, driving optimal research and advancement in skin enhancement, treatments, contouring, and body shaping—becoming the go-to hub for celebrities from different parts of the world who fear homeland botched jobs.

The Grand Plastic Surgery in Gangnam, with an ambition to be the best plastic surgery center in the world, is Seoul’s leading cosmetology player. The clinic introduces both invasive and non-invasive procedures that do not just sculpt for aesthetic purposes, but remodels for lifestyle adjustments, such as cleft palate surgery. “Our caring hearts create beauty. We put so much effort into studying the science of beauty to unleash everyone’s confidence, even without using makeup,” said Minjeung Song, global marketing department manager of Grand Plastic Surgery


International patients who can only stay at a limited time in Korea can avail of a one-stop total plastic surgery system that includes eyes, nose, facial contouring, and body and anti aging, with post-operative care.

Each hospital provides the following international-patients benefits:

  • Free medical interpreter in various languages
  • Airport pick up service
  • Hotel Accommodation
  • Flight reservation
  • Free WiFi rental

Source: Manila Bulletin

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