Accessing Medical Services and Hospitals

Information about the medical care available, hospitals, health centres and emergency services for foreigners in South Korea, and how to access English-speaking medical care...

Medical Care

High quality healthcare is available in South Korea in general hospitals, oriental hospitals (which use traditional eastern medical practices), public health centres and private hospitals. Medical providers are divided into three types depending on their size and the number of departments they have:

  1. First tier medical facilities. These include private hospitals and public health centres. They have a limited number of departments and provide services for preventing disease and treating early symptoms.
  2. Second tier medical facilities provide inpatient and outpatient care as well as emergency treatment. These facilities have more than four departments with medical specialists providing care with between 30 and 500 beds.
  3. Third tier medical facilities are general hospitals or hospitals attached to medical schools. They have more than 500 beds and have numerous specialists working in many different departments. They provide specialized services for medical emergencies. A referral letter from a first or second tier facility is needed to get treatment in a third tier facility; without one treatment is possible, but is very expensive.

Hospital appointments can be made by visiting a hospital with a valid health insurance card. It is best done in advance. Payment for hospital services can be made at a hospital's administration office; many hospitals accept payment by credit card.

English-speaking Medical Services

The Seoul Metropolitan City Government runs the Seoul Global Centre, which operates a 24-hour a day medical referral service for foreigners. Between the hours of 20:00-08:00 the service should only be contacted in an emergency. The staff has medical training and they speak English; they can provide advice on medical facilities and services.

  • Seoul Global Centre
    : 3rd Floor, Korea Press Centre, 1 Ga, Taepyung Ro, Jung Gu, Seoul
    Tel: 010 4769 8212 / 010 8750 8212

Their website also maintains a list of hospitals and clinics with international services and English speaking staff.

  • To view the list of international clinics and English speaking services, visit Seoul Global centre (select "Living" in the horizontal bar in the top half of the screen and scroll down to "Medical Services". The list can be viewed by clicking on "Medical Services for Foreigners" in the highlighted menu on the left of the screen)