The Korea Herald


Gangnam strives to lead medical tourism

By 배지숙

Published : April 14, 2011 - 18:19

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District displays advanced capabilities at Medical Korea 2011 exhibition

This is the second of a three-part series on medical tourism in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. ― Ed.

On Wednesday morning, people from various countries bustled into the COEX Hall in southern Seoul for Medical Korea 2011, the largest convention-exhibition dedicated to boosting medical tourism here.

From giant hospitals such as Seoul National University Hospital and Samsung Medical Center to smaller clinics such as Areumdaun Nara dermatological clinic and others, medical facility promoters showed off their state-of-the-art techniques and tailored services.

It seemed like a perfect opportunity for the medical insiders since medical and tourism experts held conferences, debates and discussions on how to outline a global marketing strategy while medical tourism agents strolled around the exhibitions picking up useful information. Familiarizing tours for those interested in the service fields were arranged, too.

Some foreigners dropped by promotional booths asking questions about the latest surgical methods, prices and extra services that come with the visit.

“I am impressed that the level of medical services has jumped up so fast,” an medical-tourism agent from Russia said after consulting with several clinics. 
A booth set up by the Gangnam-gu office at the Medical Korea 2011 in the COEX, southern Seoul. (Gangnam-gu office) A booth set up by the Gangnam-gu office at the Medical Korea 2011 in the COEX, southern Seoul. (Gangnam-gu office)

The stand-out of the scene was Gangnam-gu, the affluent southern Seoul district, which brought nine medical facilities to the convention. The participants were 354 mc Obesity Clinic, Yeson Voice Center, Gowoonsesang Dermatological Clinic, Real Cosmetic Clinic, Oracle Skinland, Areumdaun Nara, Samsung Line Plastic Surgery and iLove Eye Center.

The office subsidized half of the operating and installation fees of their booths and held other marketing events during the sessions to promote them.

The hospitals ranged from those for vocal chord treatment to Oriental medical diets, and nose jobs to facelifts.

The office expected participation in Medical Korea would expose Gangnam’s medical attractions to more than 400 industry insiders.

Gangnam has a very good reason to push medical tourism. According to the office, there are five general hospitals, 29 hospitals, 19 dental hospitals, five oriental hospitals and 2,249 clinics in the district. The district has about 15 percent of the total medical facilities in the region. Adding in aesthetic care centers and other semi-medical facilities, the portion is even higher.

There are 40 registered medical tourism agencies in the district, helping foreign patients find good quality but affordable treatment.

The local government is planning to go beyond Korea. It held joint promotion events in China and Russia and is planning to hold another session in Russia in May. It is also running website,, listing the details of medical facilities in the district in English, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

“It is true that Gangnam might not be the most historical place or the largest shopping district to woo tourists but combined with the skills and techniques we have, I think we have a good chance,” Lee Hye-ran, an official of the administrative office, said.

By Bae Ji-sook (