The Korea Herald


SMC draws patients from more nations

By 배지숙

Published : April 15, 2011 - 15:09

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Its international clinic aims to be the top in world for expertise, services

This article the first part of a series of articles on international clinics for foreigners at medical centers in Korea. ― Ed.

Samsung Medical Center’s international clinic has been praised for its latest medical techniques and for having some of the most sophisticated services.

Located on the second floor of the annex building of Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul, there are two internists, a family doctor, a pediatrician and a rheumatologist. All of the doctors are certified in both Korea and the U.S.

The patients who register through the international center also have access to 1,364 doctors and 2,000 nurses at 40 departments and eight special centers. The hospital also has contracts with 16 foreign insurance firms, in order to ensure safety as well as “cashless service.”

The clinic earned recognition among foreigners when it signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. armed forces in Seoul to look after military personnel, who once preferred to be taken to Japan or the U.S. when sick.

Dr. Lee Mun-hyang, head of the clinic, said more and more people are visiting the clinic as its reputation reaches new heights. “We are seeing more patients coming from Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. They are seeking the best service within an attainable distance,” she said.

A total of 10,630 foreign nationals visited the clinic last year for treatment. A total of 601 were hospitalized.

Among them, doctors have saved the life of a premature infant weighing 460 grams and even performed a heart transplant. Currently, the state-of-the-art Cancer Center, the ever-popular Cardiovascular Center and the Gastric Center are full of patients seeking doctors who can take care of their illnesses. 
A doctor talks with foreign patients at the clinic. (Samsung Medical Center) A doctor talks with foreign patients at the clinic. (Samsung Medical Center)

“With the latest endoscopic surgery, one can walk in and walk out of the surgery room. You need to stay just a couple of days for recovery,” Lee said.

Samsung Medical Center’s “tailor-made service” provided to each patient is a factor that attracts foreign patients.

“When the patient walks into the hospital, they are already scared and worried. They are affected by the smallest behavior and gestures by the doctors. We should always be careful of what we do and what we say, (because) she should understand them,” she said. Lee is the head of the hospital’s service evaluation committee, which teaches and monitors staff hospitality.

“Yes, we are good at medical techniques. But that isn’t enough. That won’t pull us to the top. We need to be alert all the time to talk with the patients at their level. That is our next challenge,” she said, adding that the hospital holds service education programs every month.

“Yes, we are at the top of the nation. Now we are seeking the top of world,” she added.


Samsung Medical Center International Health Services

Office hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Service available in English, Japanese, Russian, Chinese and more.

How to get there: Exit 1, Ilwon Station on Subway Line No. 3. A shuttle bus service to the hospital is available at the subway station. Airport pick up service is also available upon request.

For more information, call (82) 2-3410-0200/0226 or email

By Bae Ji-sook