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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Dr. Kang’s Internal Medicine Clinic

Where: Mugeodong, between Pizza School and Shoe Marker (3rd floor, above the pharmacy)

For those of you who were lucky enough to have had chicken pox at the appropriate age; that is long enough ago to have forgotten what it was like, let me remind you: It is an itchy, itchy, itchy hell. A newcomer to South Korea and Ulsan, I was warned that I would get sick, I expected flu and stomach problems and might even have worried vaguely about contracting some strange Asian illnesses, and when I woke up on Monday morning last week with blotchy, blistery skin, I was convinced I had a very severe allergy. Probably to the air.

I almost went to school, but I was so uncomfortable that I decided I would try get to the doctor first, so I called a friend and was referred to Dr. Kang. Off I went… and got there just after 9 am. The ladies at reception were friendly and helped me in very broken English. I was number 33 and waited nearly two hours to be seen (in other words, the doc saw 32 people in just under two hours!). The waiting room was very busy, full of Koreans reading and sleeping in front of a giant TV screen which was most disturbingly displaying the contents of the current patient’s insides…

I was eventually ushered in to the doctor – well doctors, as there were two guys in white coats sitting at a desk behind computer screens. Dr. Kang, all polite smiles and nods, pulled up a wheelie stool for me to sit on right in front of him and asked me what was wrong. I said: “I think I have an allergy” and showed him the rash; he inspected it and said, “Ah, you think it is allergy but I think it is chicken pox! Confess to me…” (here I got a bit worried) “…Do you have a fever?”

Well, I was both relieved and horrified… Dr. Kang explained that a complication of chicken pox in adulthood is possible liver and kidney damage, so he said he would give me one days’ medication and take a blood sample, and that I must please come back the next day so that he could decide if I needed to be hospitalised. He also told me not to work or go near kids, and not to bath as doing so might cause “inpection”. Consultation over, I was led to a ‘lab’ where blood was drawn, and then back to reception where I paid (15600 won – because of the bloodwork; subsequent visits were 5000 won) and received my prescription and a letter for the director of my school.

The next day, I went a little later (11-ish) and didn’t have to wait as long (only an hour or so), and was told that my bloodwork was normal and that I would be given two days’ medication and must then please come back… So two days later I was back, and I was told that the chicken pox was 20-30% healed – I would need another two days’ medication and must please come back after that. Two days later… you guessed it, I needed another two days’ medication… Two days later… 90-95% healed, I was given one more days’ medication: that is today, and I feel fine; I’m still a little spotty, but I am due back at work tomorrow and I can’t wait to get out of my apartment!

All in all, I believe I was treated well even if I didn’t necessarily enjoy all the coming and going – back home I would have been given a bottle of pills and probably wouldn’t have seen the doc for follow-up so I guess I feel I was more thoroughly taken care of here. If I need to go to the doctor again I will go back to Dr. Kang, and if anyone in the area needs an English-speaking doctor, now you know… I really hope you won’t though