The Korea Herald

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K-culture propels medical tourism in Korea, survey shows

By Moon Joon-hyun

Published : May 29, 2023 - 15:40

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Nearly half of international patients who sought medical treatment in South Korea last year were influenced by the appeal of Korean culture, a survey from the Korea Health Industry Development Institute revealed Sunday.

Of 1,200 foreign patients surveyed, 49.7 percent affirmed the influence of Korean culture on their decision to come to Korea for medical travel. Respondents from Southeast Asia, Japan, China and Russia constituted the bulk of the surveyed patients.

The statistic represents an increase of 25.4 percentage points from the previous year.

KHIDI's study further highlighted that patients inspired by Korean culture were more proactive and invested more in their health care. Of this group, 72.8 percent preselected their health care providers, compared to 40.9 percent among those not influenced by Korean culture.

These engaged patients spent an average of $7,308 per person, surpassing the $5,745 average expenditure of others.

This trend was found to be more prevalent among women and younger patients in their 20s and 30s.

KHIDI researchers called for measures to capitalize on the popularity of Korean culture in medical tourism, such as the provision of Asian language support on websites and direct reservation systems.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, with the gradual subsiding of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea reported a 70 percent surge in foreign patient visits last year, from 145,842 in 2021 to 248,110.