Medical facilities are categorized into three types according to standard and size.
Before you enter a hospital for medical care, you should make sure to go to a first-tier or second-tier facility for help or to get a referral. Third-tier hospitals will, of course, also accept you as a patient if you do not bring a referral. However, it is possible that your health insurance will not cover the costs and you will be stuck with high medical fees.
In most cases you have to pay your medical costs upfront before you can make a claim with your insurance company. You can make a payment at the administrative office of your hospital or medical center. While most of them accept credit cards, some of them may not, so make sure to bring enough cash.
In case of an emergency, you can dial 1339 to reach the hotline of the Emergency Medical Information Center. They have trained medical personnel on call 24/7 who can give basic medical instructions over the phone or call an ambulance if necessary. The hotline is available in English, Chinese, and Japanese.
As we have mentioned above, there are a vast number of medical institutions which offer top-notch care and services. Specialized services in fields such as ophthalmology, dentistry, plastic surgery, or infertility treatment are available as well. Many hospitals and medical centers now also have international staff that cater to the expat community. These include:
For more expat-friendly hospitals as well as contact information for the clinics mentioned above, please refer to Allianz Worldwide Care.
You may be happy to learn that it is not necessary to get specific vaccinations for your time in Seoul. However, it cannot hurt to stop by your family doctor and refresh some of those standard vaccinations such as diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and hepatitis A and B. Keep in mind that if you spend a lot of time outside of the big city, other vaccinations will indeed make sense. Unfortunately, the risk of catching typhoid and Japanese encephalitis is still high in rural areas.
It is currently relatively safe to travel to South Korea. Despite its close proximity to the North Korean border, the conflict between the two countries has had little effect on expats living in Seoul. However, it is, of course, always possible for political tensions to reemerge.
Seoul is a very safe city, and violent crimes are rare. As in every major metropolis around the world, however, you should use your common sense to avoid obvious dangers.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.