The Korea Herald


SNU Hospital goes global

By 배지숙

Published : April 28, 2011 - 18:19

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Top university hospital reaches out to foreigners

When Seoul National University Hospital opened its cancer center last month, it was the beginning of another renaissance for the hospital that has arguably ruled the country’s medical field for more than half a decade.

Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities including 165 sickbeds, 15 specified sectors, educational facilities and a clinical test department, the center put SNUH on top of the map once again, even among foreign patients.

Having nabbed the 8th place in the clinical trial case category of the QS World University Ranking in 2009, the hospital, well-known for precise diagnosis of almost all diseases, is now ready to show off its surgical skills to the world, too. 
A Seoul National University Hospital International Healthcare Center doctor looks after a foreign patient. A Seoul National University Hospital International Healthcare Center doctor looks after a foreign patient.

The hospital had 11,500 foreign outpatients and 2,983 inpatients in 2010, but it isn’t enough to show where the hospital’s goal is.

“We are focusing more on patients with severe illnesses: those who are in a life-or-death situation. With our top-notch manpower and cutting edge devices, it is better,” Kim Yon-su, head of the hospital’s international healthcare center, said. Just as people all over the world visit MD Anderson to treat cancer and other critical diseases, Kim said the hospital will become the hospital of last resort for people with slim hope and the international healthcare center will be the contact point for them.

Doctors have already operated on several difficult cases involving foreign patients, including a child with a facial deformity, a cardiovascular operation for a stroke patient, liver transplants on cancer patients and more.

The hospital has selected 20 medical techniques including gamma knife surgery; organ transplantation; cardiovascular operation; laparoscopic surgery on cervical cancer, colon cancer, and cholecystectomy; endoscopic surgeries; coronary artery bypass and stent implant; and radical mastectomy to become the face of SNUH.

The international healthcare center has joined hands with 30 of the nation’s top doctors at its hospital, who can look into individual patients’ disorder in no time. “It is swifter because one does not need to be contacted to the administration office for reference. We call them directly. The doctors also spare certain period of time for foreign patients,” Kim said.

The hospital is planning something beyond medical service. Talks are underway to provide food cooked according to Islamic rules for Muslims while contacts with foreign insurance firms are also under discussion. The center also keeps close relations with embassies of the U.S., U.K., Canada, China and Russia. 

Kim said the center is also open to expats. “We do provide primary healthcare service because we understand that primary care can prevent serious diseases many times and most of all, we are good at it,” he said.

By Bae Ji-sook (

SNUH International Healthcare Center

•Office hours: Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

•Saturday: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

•Contact: (82)-2-2072-2890/ 0505. Emergency consultation is available through 013-0484-0505. Services are available in English, Japanese and Chinese.

•A doctor fluent in English, Spanish and French is stationed at the center. Russian, Chinese, Turkish language service is available upon prior request.

•How to get there: Proceed 100 meters from Exit No.3 of Hyehwa Station of Subway Line No.4. The center is on the second floor of the main building.

•For more information, visit