Gangnam sees surge in medical tourism

Gangnam District, an affluent district in southern Seoul which became world-famous last year due to Psy’s hit song “Gangnam Style,” is becoming an increasingly popular destination for medical tourism patients from diverse countries who head to the district for a range of treatments.

According to the Gangnam-gu Office, the number of foreign patients who paid for services at hospitals and clinics in the district was estimated at around 32,900 for 2012. This estimate is based on the number of patients who attended the top 30 hospitals in the district.

The figure is up 34 percent from the previous year when around 24,500 patients chose Gangnam as their destination. About a quarter of these patients were from the United States, followed by China at 22 percent and Japan at 16 percent. Patients from Russia took 9 percent of the medical tourists in Gangnam, followed by Mongolia at 4 percent and 2 percent from Kazakhstan.

By departments, 30 percent of the patients headed to internal medicine clinics, while 29 percent underwent dermatological treatment or plastic surgery. One in 10 visitors chose Gangnam as the place to get comprehensive medical checkup, while 16 percent headed to clinics offering Korean traditional medicine.

The country is promoting medical tourism as a new growth engine, and services in Gangnam District are leading the campaign. The district has world-class hospitals such as Samsung Medical Center and Gangnam Severance Hospital as well as renowned traditional Korean medical hospitals including Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine and Kwangdong Oriental Hospital. The district is also famous as a hub of plastic surgery and dermatological clinics.

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