Are there any vaccinations I should get or other health precautions to take as I prepare for my move to your city?
No vaccinations are required to enter South Korea, however it is recommended that immunizations be up-to-date for all family members, particularly for Hepatitis A, diphtheria, tetanus, polio (DTP) and typhoid.
Hepatitis A can be contracted through food and water. Given the lack of enforcement of sanitation rules prevalent in some eating establishments, vaccination against Hepatitis A is highly recommended. This vaccine is given usually in two doses in the muscle of the upper arm. The first dose provides protection two to four weeks after initial vaccination; the second booster dose, given six to twelve months later, provides protection for up to twenty years.
For up-to-date information on the vaccinations required for travel to Korea and all other countries, check the information on the WHO website: www.who.int/ith/en/ go to Country List, then to Korea under "K."
Before I get sick, what should I know about seeking medical care in your city as an expat?
In the event of a medical emergency, it's best to take along a Korean-speaking person, if possible, as hospitals or clinics may have limited English-speaking skills. Alternatively, you can write out your medical symptoms and/or condition since most Koreans can easily read English medical terminology. However, the English abilities of staff in hospitals and clinics are steadily improving and some speak and understand it quite well. There is also a volunteer interpretation service, BBB (Korean volunteers who speak another language), that offers free interpretation over the telephone in 17 languages.
A few hospitals in Ulsan have clinics staffed by English-speaking physicians and nurses who can coordinate appointments with specialists.
1. Koreans do not have the same sense of privacy that Westerners do, so don't be embarrassed if the doctor asks to examine you in front of other patients. If this is an issue for you, you can ask to have a screen put up.
2. The wait time for medical treatment in hospitals can be quite long, even in the emergency unit.
3. In an emergency, you should take some cash with you (at least W500,000-W1,000,000) because some hospitals accept only certain credit cards. There are ATM machines located throughout most hospitals.
4. An international medical insurance card is not recognized as a form or pre-payment. You will have to pay your medical bill in full in cash before you can be discharged. If you have global coverage, you can then submit the receipt to them for reimbursement. Some private hospitals (a small number) do not want to accept National Health Insurance and while this is allegedly not legal, there is little that one can apparently do. As long as you are a legal resident of Korean, you can enroll in the National Health Insurance plan; if your employer does not provide coverage, you can enroll yourself. Compared to the medical insurance policy rates in some Western countries, the cost is not prohibitive.
5. If you are admitted to the hospital through the international clinic, your bill will likely be higher than if you had gone directly to emergency or been admitted by one of the hospital’s other departments.
6. Korean physicians sometimes give the worst-case prognosis first and then go on to the less serious ones. Don’t panic or think you’ve been misdiagnosed. It’s just a question of style and culture.
What is the word for "doctor" in the local language?
What is the best way to locate a suitable health care provider?
Seoul Global Center runs a 24-hour Medical Referral Service. Calls are taken by medically trained, English-speaking foreign and Korean volunteers.
Contact numbers: 010-4769-8212 or 010-8750-8212. (Note: Emergency calls only from 8pm to 8am)
Do expats in the area tend to leave the city/area/country to seek medical care? If so, why and where do they go?
As the options are somewhat limited in Ulsan, some expats choose to go to a hospital in Busan or
Seoul. There are many hospitals and foreign clinics with English-speaking doctors in these two cities in Korea. Many of the doctors have been educated in North America or Europe. The surgeons are some of the best in the world.
What is the number to call to summon help in an emergency? List medical/fire/police.
Fire and Emergency Ambulance: 119
Medical Emergency: 1339
International SOS Korea provides a 24-hour emergency service for foreigners, acting as a link between patients and Korean hospitals for a fee. Tel: (02) 790-7561
What do I do if there's an emergency in the middle of the night—or at another time when my normal doctor/clinic is unavailable?
- Police: 112
- Fire and Emergency Ambulance: 119
- Ulsan Hospital Emergency: 052 259 5000
- Emergency Medical Information Center: 1339
International SOS Korea Ltd: (02) 3140 1700 (24 hours)
How will I recognize a pharmacy? What is it called in the local language?
There are many of them, with one on almost every street corner. Below are signs that are easily identifiable.
Pharmacy is called "Yak-guk" and medicine is called "Yak.".
Is the water safe to drink?
The water in Korea is safe to drink, however, most people continue to use water purifiers or filters in their homes or have water delivered as needed.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.