According to data from the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare, and reported in Pulse news, 48,849 foreigners visited Korea in 2017 for cosmetic surgery, up by 968 from the previous year and making up 12.3% of all medical tourists in the country. The article says that 397,882 medical tourists visited Korea in 2017.
The article states the visitors spent a combined 215 billion won (US$213.8m), accounting for 33.6% of total revenue from foreign patients. Tourist spending in cosmetic surgery has jumped nearly fourfold from 2012.
While plastic surgery tourism has been on the rise, the total tally of medical tourists to Korea fell 6.5% on year to 397,882 in 2017. They also reduced their spending by 25.6%to 639.9 billion won (US$570m).
In patient counts, internal or general medicine had the most visits from non-Korean residents with a share of 20.2%. Cosmetic surgery and dermatology followed at 12.3% and 10.9%, respectively, showing that one fifth of medical tourists come to Korea for cosmetic purposes. Medical examination came fourth at 9.8%.
When looking at the medical expenses per capita, cosmetic surgery was the highest at 4.4 million won, followed by general surgery at 2.98 million won, pediatrics at 2.77 million won and neurosurgery at 1.95 million won.
Earlier in 2018, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said 321,574 medical tourists visited South Korea in 2017.
South Korea is becoming one of the major centres for medical tourism in Asia. Health care in South Korea is cheap and extremely efficient. Most of the hospitals belong to the private sector and are staffed by doctors with international qualifications. The hospitals are equipped with the latest technology and medical equipment. The hospitals and clinics are of world-class standards. Most of the doctors speak some English. South Korea has been able to establish itself as a major centre for cosmetic surgery.
For a detailed analysis of inbound medical tourism to South Korea, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.