South Korea grows its medical tourism business


The Ministry of Health and Welfare has released detailed figures on 2016 medical tourism. According to the South Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare the number of foreign medical tourists increased to more than 364,000 in 2016, up 23% from 2015.

Source countries

An increasing number of patients were from Uzbekistan, Vietnam and the Philippines. There were over 7,200 patients from Middle Eastern countries including 700 United Arab Emirates nationals on a Dubai government programme. Most UAE patients sought treatment for serious and complex medical conditions or illnesses such as cancer or stroke, or to undergo transplant.

A complete breakdown of source countries in 2016, according to The Ministry of Health and Welfare:

CHINA    127,648 USA    48,788
JAPAN    26,702 RUSSIA   25,533
KAZAHKSTAN    15,010 MONGOLIA    14.798
VIETNAM    8,746 CANADA    4,123
UZBEKHISTAN    4,103 THAILAND    3,933
PHILLIPINES    3,686 UAE    3,562

Treatment share

A fifth of patients sought treatment for internal medicine (20%), followed by cosmetic surgery (11.3%) and dermatology (11.1%).

A growing number of patients sought treatment for cancer or stroke, transplants and rehabilitation as well as traditional Korean medicine and obstetrics/gynaecology. 18,011 sought treatment with traditional Korean medicine, up 36.3% from 2015 and 23,081 visited obstetricians/gynaecologists, up 21.6% from 2015.

Internal medicine    20%
Cosmetic surgery    11.3%
Dermatology    11.1%
Health check-up    8.3%
Orthopaedics    5.7%
General surgery    5.4%
Traditional Korean medicine    4.2%
Dental treatment    3.2%
Neurosurgery    3.1%
Eye surgery    2.9%
Ear/nose/throat    2.9%
Urology    2.1%
Other    16.2%

Revenue growth

Year     Total revenue (100 million Korean won)

2009    547
2010    1,032
2011    1,809
2012    2,673
2013    3,934
2014    5,569
2015    6,694
2016    8,606



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