SEOUL, Apr. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — A record number of foreigners visited South Korea for medical purposes last year, as the country has been ramping up a drive to woo more foreign visitors, the health ministry said Wednesday.
According to the ministry, 378,967 foreigners visited the country for medical services last year, sharply up 17.8 percent from 321,574 in the previous year.
The latest tally is the highest annual figure since the country started allowing foreigners to receive medical treatment here in 2009, it said. In the past 10 years, some 2.26 million foreign patients were treated by local hospitals and clinics.
Foreign patients are non-residents and do not get coverage from the country’s health insurance scheme. This means they have to pay more for treatment than South Korean citizens.
In 2009, some 60,000 foreigners visited the country, with this number shooting up to 211,218 in 2013 and 364,189 in 2016, before backtracking in the following year.
People from 190 countries arrived in the country last year, with 31.2 percent or some 118,000 Chinese nationals, followed by 11.9 percent for U.S. citizens and 11.2 percent being Japanese.
Russian and Mongolian citizens made the top five list by accounting for 7.2 percent and 3.7 percent of people treated in the country, respectively, the ministry said.
By type of treatment received, 19.4 percent visited the country for ailments requiring internal medicine, with plastic surgery and dermatology treatments making up 14.4 percent and 13.7 percent of the total, respectively.
Some 8.9 percent of patients arrived in the country to get medical checkups and 5.3 percent for gynecology issues.