Korean Hospital Experience

Touch wood!! I hate hospital and its smell. It was a scary experience when I was stitched during high school after injuring my chin in a dramatic fall while playing basketball.

Kak Ita and Abang Hashimni after the surgery.

Personally, I had no experience being warded or had any surgery in any Korean hospital yet. But I had many times accompanying either foreign or Korean friends to Korean hospitals.

My Korean friends had always warned me: “Don’t ever dare get sick in Korea!! It’s crazy expensive!”. I never believed them but I! Hehe..after this incident.

The story goes like this.

I was called early in the morning on the second day of Seollal 2013 by Feia..not so morning like around half past nine. A guest hurt his finger in the guesthouse’s restroom while changing his clothes. Apparently the lamp was already broken before the incident and his finger hit the sharpest edge of the broken lamp.


Web Hosting was the second day of Seollal in Seoul and hmmm…the city was barren and obviously most departments of hospitals are closed. Majority of the cases go to emergency ward first like ours.

But that wasn’t all.

This was what happened before I could meet the patient:
Before even reaching the ‘correct’ hospital, the patient visited Yonsei Severance Hospital first. The doctor’s first reaction: “This gonna be expensive!” Okay…so? “We have to call the plastic surgeon to stitch you up”. Well…this had been translated by another doctor.

Their reaction was…”It seems like general surgery for us (if it is diagnosed back in Malaysia) but either the doctor want to gain some profit from dumb foreign tourist like us or…there could be some misinterpretation of the diagnosis…”

Alright, but the doctor had some empathy for us and he directed the patient to another cheaper hospital I guess- Sinchon Yonsei Hospital (which doesn’t look as grand as Yonsei Severance Hospital..nuff said. Hehe..)

By this time, I was around to assist them and the patient’s wounded finger was primarily bandaged without surgery performed yet.

We were explained of the normal procedures, the initial deposit was one million won and every little thing was priced up to the tiny little size of bandages!!

On one side, we like it because the transparency was there. They took a lot of patience to explain them one by one. On another side..we hate it…so much babbling but we still have to hear them anyway.

We need the surgery..palli palli!!

After signing all the papers…err..more like signing on the monitor screen, the patient changed to hospital robe, took X-Ray, admitted to ward, fast for about another 3 hours and then pushed into the operating theater.

I reminded the nurse that the patient’s meal must have no meat, only seafood and vegetables but what had never crossed my mind was that the hospital didn’t prepare cutlery ie fork, spoon or chopstick. O_O So quirky.

Unlike Malaysia, if we enter a private hospital everything is prepared for us and we just have to bear the exorbitant cost. But still..we pay what we get..ya know. Well…back to reality, we are in Korea..duhh.

Warning 1: Not all doctors in Korea are adequate with English.

Warning 2: Make sure you have insurance to cover your misfortune. Travel agency most of the time will not be liable. There can be cases where you are insured back in your home country for minor surgery, however the premium might not necessarily cover your oversea’s emergency.

Warning 3: Beware of all the unnecessary and nonsensical impending procedures. You MUST be assisted by either a Korean or someone who understands Korean language.

Morphine drip.

Lessons learned: I learned so much new vocabulary related to 약 (medicine).

마약 for example.

The patient asked for morphine to relieve the pain although the regular painkiller has been dripped for him. Since morphine is 마약 – an administered drug, so we have to sign an agreement. The morphine costed about USD150.


  • Hana Maroo

    wow, very expensive especially 4 the morphine which costs only RM 1.7 per ampule in M'sia in most hospital settings, but other devices n preparation of the opiod may cost more…
    been working in healthcare industry many years n I believe, as foreigner/medical tourism, we do have to may extra more than a double than regular price even back in M'sia but in Korea, wow…
    ya… most foreign doctors especially Korean Japanese or even Vietnamese can't really communicate well in English… hah ha…
    As for signing a consent digitally, really looking forward 4 our country's healthcare industries to move ahead…
    Very useful entry, especially "Don't get sick in KOrea".

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