Foreign patients visiting Korea rise by 17.8% in 2018

Lee Han-soo  Published 2019.10.02  17:50  Updated 2019.10.02 17:50


The number of foreigners getting medical treatment in Korea increased last year, and Japanese patients had the highest growth rate among all foreign patients visiting this country, a government report said.

The report, published by Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), showed that the number of foreign patients who visited Korea for treatment totaled 378,967 in 2018, up 17.8 percent from the previous year.

Among the foreign patients, Chinese patients took up the largest share with 31.2 percent, followed by Americans (11.9 percent), Japanese (11.8 percent), Russians (7.2 percent) and Mongols (3.7 percent). The five countries accounted for 65.3 percent of the total foreign patients who visited Korea.

Compared to 2017, Japanese patients had the highest increase rate among all foreign patients with a significant 56 percent growth, followed by Thailand (46.6 percent), Indonesia (37.1 percent) and Uzbekistan (20.4 percent).

Concerning the departments visited by international patients, internal medicine ranked first with 19.4 percent, followed by plastic surgery (14.4 percent), dermatology (13.7 percent) and health checkup (8.9 percent).

Dermatology marked the highest growth rate among the departments, with a 47 percent increase from the previous year. Plastic surgery (37.1 percent), obstetrics and gynecology (21.5 percent), and general surgery (14 percent) also saw substantial growth.

Departments that saw a decrease in patients were dentistry (6.2 percent) and ophthalmology (4.1 percent).

“Attracting foreign patients is an important project that leads to the profit generation of related industries such as airline, hotel, shopping, and tourism,” said Rep. Kim Kwang-soo of the Party for Democracy and Peace. “Notably, the number of Japanese patients who visited Korea increased by 56 percent, which was the highest growth rate among foreign patients.”

Korea should continue to raise its status as a medical powerhouse by seeking ways to expand channels for attracting foreign patients, develop emerging markets, and diversify treatment subjects, Kim added.

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