The number of foreign patients visiting Korea increased last year, and the largest percentage of them sought medical help for cosmetic purposes, government data showed. More than half of the foreign patients who underwent plastic surgery in Korea were Chinese.
Rep. Nam In-soon of the ruling Democratic Party released the data of foreign patients in the recent five years, submitted by Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI).
The number of foreign patients who visited Korea rose to 464,452 last year, up 16.7 percent from 397,882 in 2017. The largest share of international patients – 19.4 percent or 89,975 – visited the internal medicine department the most.
Other popular departments include plastic surgery with 14.4 percent, dermatology with 13.7 percent, health checkup center with 8.9 percent, obstetrics and gynecology with 5.3 percent, orthopedics with 5.1 percent, neurosurgery with 3 percent, general surgery with 2.8 percent, and dentistry, 2.7 percent.
The number of foreign patients who visited either the plastic surgery department or dermatology department took up 28.1 percent (130,640) of the total last year. The figure is a record high.
The proportion of foreign visitors at plastic surgery or dermatology department out of the total started to surpass 20 percent in 2016. The number went up from 22.4 percent in 2016 to 23.2 percent in 2017 and 28.1 percent in 2018.
In particular, the number of Chinese patients visiting the plastic surgery department hit 128,366, accounting for 53.2 percent of the total 241,186 foreign patients who underwent plastic surgery in the past five years.
“The proportion of plastic surgery patients out of the total foreign patients has kept breaking records every year since Korea began to attract foreign patients. Their dependence on plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes is rising, rather than sliding,” Nam said.
The Moon Jae-in administration needs to promote Korea’s advanced medicine better, including surgery and treatment for severe, rare, and intractable diseases, she added.
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