Cheaper prices and fast scheduling lure foreign visitors to Korea for cosmetic surgery and infertility treatments
Craving a Korean actor’s nose? Or is your high hairline getting you down?
Korea is the new destination of choice for medical tourism.
More and more foreign visitors are flying to Korea for surgical treatments, and it seems that the reasons for this new version of the Korean Wave may be a matter of cost rather than that of quality.
“I thought about getting my eyes and nose done either in Thailand or New Zealand, but Korea seemed like the safest place for plastic surgery and the price was also affordable,” Jack Ng, a 21-year-old New Zealander told the daily. Ng’s surgery was apparently one third the cost of getting a procedure done down under.
His parents are in for a rude shock upon his return to New Zealand, as he didn’t tell them that he was coming to Korea to makeover his face.
By the numbers
Here’s a look at Korean medical tourism, according to the Joong-Ang Daily.
US$10,000: How much medical tourist Ng paid for a two-week-long “surgery vacation” to Seoul, including airfare, accommodations and the cost of the medical procedures to make him “look like a Korean actor.”
7,901: Number of foreign visitors who came to Korea for medical procedures in 2007.
81,789: Number of foreign visitors who came to Korea for medical procedures in 2010.
32.4: Percentage of the 2010 medical tourists who were from the United States.
19.4: Percentage of the 2010 medical tourists from China.
16.8: Percentage of the 2010 medical tourists from Japan.
₩817.4 billion (US$703 million): Revenues from treating foreign patients in 2010.
400,000: Number of medical tourists the Korean government wants to entice to Korea by 2015.
1 million: Number of medical tourists the Korean government wants to entice to Korea by 2020.
₩5 million (US$4,185): How much fertility treatment costs at Seoul Rachel Fertility Center, one sixth of the average cost in the United States.
Two weeks: How long patients usually stay at the Lotte City Hotel (where the Seoul Rachel Fertility Center is located) while undergoing external fertilization.
40: Percentage success rate of infertility treatments at Korean hospitals.
Cosmetic surgery and infertility treatments are the most sought-after, and other popular choices by foreign tourists include dentistry, cancer-related procedures, laser eye surgery and skincare.