Chinese become majority of foreign medical tourists

By 정주원
  • Published : Feb 16, 2014 - 17:02
  • Updated : Feb 16, 2014 - 17:02

Nearly 160,000 foreigners came to South Korea in 2012 on medical tours and spent 267.3 billion won ($252.17 million), with visitors from China outnumbering those from the United States for the first time, health industry records showed Sunday.

According to the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, 159,464 foreign patients from 188 countries came to South Korea in 2012, marking a 30.4 percent increase from the previous year. Their total medical-related spending increased 47.9 percent.

The number of Chinese medical visitors showed a marked increase from 4,724 in 2009 to 32,503, nearly a seven-fold increase over the three-year period. Seven out of 10 were young women, most of them in their 20s and 30s, and about half of them came for plastic surgery or other cosmetic procedures. Chinese visitors spent an average 1.69 million won per person.

Japanese medical tourists, totaling 19,744, were the third-largest group, but the number was 12.2 percent less than the previous year.

Although fewer in number, medical tourists from Russia increased 70.3 percent, and those from Mongolia jumped 157.4 percent, the records showed.

The overall tally indicated 22.2 percent had come for treatment in internal medicine, and another 11.5 percent for medical check-ups. Others received care at skin clinics (8.3 percent), plastic surgeon clinics (7.7 percent) and gynecologists (5.3 percent). (Yonhap News)