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Medical tourists visiting for Korean medicine on the rise Updated: 2019-05-22 07:11:35 KST

Time now for our "Life & Info" segment, where we focus on information useful for your everyday life.
Today, we will once again talk about medical tourism in South Korea, but this time we focus on foreign patients coming here for traditional "Korean medicine."
Hundreds of thousands come in here for medical treatment, and it turns out, more and more foreign guests visit here for something different.
We have our Choi Si-young in the studio to talk more about it.
So Si-young, what is Korean medicine, and how many foreign visitors are coming in for that?

Well, Mark. Korean medicine is known mostly for acupuncture, where thin needles are inserted onto specific pressure points of the body to stimulate blood flow, which is supposed to help your body get better.
Out of roughly four-hundred-thousand visitors, about twenty-two thousand people visited for Korean medicine last year.
Now the annual average increase of that number of foreign patients, is the second highest, only after plastic surgery.

So, what kind of ailments do they wanna cure through Korean medicine?

Well, there is no "official" record that says which specialized departments within Korean medicine patients seek out the most,

but these days many patients come here to get their back pain treated, since Korean medicine offers non-surgical treatment for them.
So the two things Korean medicine doctors do: Acupuncture and "Chuna treatment".
Now "Chuna treatment" may sound unfamiliar, but this is a traditional Korean way of correcting a patient's spine.
It looks similar to physical therapy done by Western therapists, but is different in that Korean medicine "doctors" apply gentle pressure to specific points of the spine to restore balance to the body's musculoskeletal system, the whole set of your bones.

Using bare hands, the doctor performs the treatment on patients who lie down on a bed. It usually takes less then 30 minutes, and you rarely get serious bruises or hurt during the treatment.
Well enough talking, let's hear how the patient feels after their "Chuna" session.

"I'm totally satisfied. I regularly come to the hospital for the treatment, and every time I receive it, I feel better. The effect of the treatment is noticeable."

Just looking at that interview, now I am curious, where do these people learn about the Korean medicine? Hmm, from family or friends?
And what makes them choose to get Korean medicine and not "Western" medicine?

Yes from family or friends.
Some patients say they chose Korean medicine over Western BECAUSE they were skeptical of their local hospitals.
Let's take a listen to some doctors to see what this means.

"While higher awareness of Korean medicine does attract patients to South Korea, some patients don't trust some local hospitals because they recommend surgery right away. These people visit for Korean medicine which offers non-surgical treatment."

"In Mongolia, local doctors recommended surgery, and my family was worried, but I heard that Korean medicine offers ways to soothe the pain, so I came to receive the treatment here. Now I'm satisfied and thankful."

Well, that's helpful to hear, but I'd imagine many foreign patients would still be reluctant to reach out to receive Korean medicine. Korean medicine doctors may speak some English or other languages, but might fail to clearly understand how foreign patients really think and understand.
What do you think?

If that's the case, no need to worry.
We have a Western doctor practicing Korean medicine.
Without further ado, let's see what he has to say.

"The language barrier is much easier to be overcome (with me). And I do understand the Western people way of thinking. So I can explain as they can understand, and not the Korean way, but let's call it the "international way" of explanation. So it's for them (the patients) much easier to understand what I mean. And it's much easier to follow the treatment."

Well, Si-young, I guess that will do it. Thank you for your report today.

Thanks for having me.
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