SEOUL, May 26 (Korea Bizwire) – A total of 297,000 foreigners visited South Korea for medical purposes in 2015, up 11 percent from 267,000 a year ago, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Thursday.
Their medical expenditures jumped 20 percent on-year to 670 billion won (US$567.3 million), with one-third of the amount coming from plastic surgery and skin clinics, the ministry said.
Chinese were the biggest clients with 99,000 patients, making up 33.4 percent of the total, followed by those from the United States (13.8 percent), Russia (7 percent) and Japan (6.4 percent), it said. China has ranked first since 2012, with its on-year growth reaching 24.6 percent last year.
Patients from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam sharply surged on the back of the popularity of Korean dramas and show programs.
Arrivals from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan rose 56.5 percent and 38.3 percent, respectively, while Vietnamese patients also increased by 42.6 percent.
By nation, medical expenses paid by Chinese patients accounted for the highest amount of 217.1 billion won, while the United Arab Emirates topped in terms of an average spending per patient with 15 million won.
Ministry officials said the origin of patients has diversified and the number of big-spending foreign patients is on the rise.
Demand for internal treatments accounted for the highest ratio of 21.3 percent, while plastic surgery, medical check-up and skincare each composed 11.1 percent, 9.3 percent and 8.6 percent respectively, the ministry noted.
Plastic surgeries and skincare accounted for 32.5 percent of hospital revenues from foreign patients.
The ministry said 24 percent of Chinese patients visited plastic surgery clinics, while 28 percent of Japanese patients went to skincare hospitals. In case of Russian, American and United Arab Emirates patients, 28 percent, 23 percent and 23 percent, respectively, sought internal treatments.