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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

You’re in good hands.

Ever thought that doctor’s visits in Korea are a drag for one reason or another? Is 10,000 or 20,000 won a visit too much money to pay if you’re from Canada, the UK or New Zealand? If you’re from the US you’re literally laughing all the way to the bank and are unlikely to have any beef with the Korean Health Care System (for purposes of simplification, Health Care Systems will be referred to as HCS from here on). For those who may deem the clinics or hospitals in this country “user unfriendly” I’d like to list a few points of interest from personal experiences, which may or may not change the readers mind. Hopefully they will awaken a need for further scrutiny. I’d like also to settle a personal grudge which I now hold against the hospitals of England and particularly that located in Northampton, Northamptonshire.

Most comparisons I’m about to lay out are based on ‘casual doctors’ visits or in this case those relevant to pregnancy, and do not include cases of terminal illnesses. The most recent nine months of my life were spent in England, which has a Health Care System (HCS) closely resembling that of the HCS in Canada and which, as mentioned earlier, resembles it in many ways.


Our first visit consisted of walking in and stating the desire to meet with a doctor. We told the receptionist that we were 5 weeks pregnant and as such would like to see a doctor and as the custom has it in the UK, a midwife. The receptionist slid over two copies of the National Health Services application forms and we were given an appointment to come back in a weeks time.


Our first visit consisted of walking in and stating the desire to meet with a doctor. We told the nurse that we were 16 weeks pregnant and as such would like to see a doctor. The nurse took my wives name down, we were directed to the waiting room and ten minutes later were in with the doc.

Realistically a number of questions may arise about the patient’s nationality and the according admittance policies in the respective countries. To answer that question, the patient is Korean who was visiting a health care facility located in the UK on terms similar to those given to most foreigners living in Korea namely a legal residency visa. Moving on to the first ultrasound scan.


After having returned a week later, we spent ten minutes with the doctor and made an appointment for the ultrasound, which was to be held the following week. With me not being able to attend as working as a supply teacher means you only get paid when you work, the patient was set to visit the hospital on her own.


After spending 3 minutes providing the doc with a bit of background information on our initial visit, we were taken into an adjacent room equipped with an ultrasound scanner. Fifteen minutes later we were handed our first ultrasound scans and made an appointment for another week. As the patient’s Korean insurance hadn’t come through yet we had to dole out the 35,ooo won for the scans.

To catch up on this episode:


Another week later, the patient attended her appointment and went through a rather, in her own description, brisk intake by nursing staff with a cool approach. The hospital kept the scan and although the nurse assured the patient that everything was fine, the patient left empty handed.

Throughout the months of February and March, we’ve managed to visit the Northampton hospital on a number of occasions. Prenatal testing is done in order to ascertain that everything is going well with the pregnancy and assure the overall health of the fetus. There are a number of ways in which hospitals do this, one of which is done through blood testing. England seems to take 6 beakers full. Korean hospital took only one. The English HC “professionals” didn’t seem to be able to decide between themselves, what it was exactly that they were testing. The nurses said tests were to be done for one thing, the doctor contradicted and once more we were left empty handed. In England we were told that such tests had to be done prior to the 15th week of pregnancy, which apparently is why they needed six test tubes to perform 3 different tests, which were not those telling anything regarding the state of the fetus. Earlier today the patient had visited a hospital in Gyongju where she deposited one test tube of blood and by the time the 23rd week of pregnancy comes around, we’ll have all the answers so dearly sought after for the past two months. The ultrasound scans in Korea are performed by the doctors themselves, as are most other procedures. Unless you visit a large hospital, you will be attended by a professional. England has ultrasound technicians who may not necessarily be as well rounded on all health related matters. The doctors we had in England were amateurs, which does not speak badly of them but rather a system that is unable to provide fully licensed, professional services.

The idea projected here goes beyond that of the obvious approach to pregnancy, which in my mind is the most important since how can patients expect to be treated well when the HCS can hardly do a good enough job of looking after the most fragile of human beings?

If the reader who is prone to scrutiny of Korea’s health system or its facilities, I am not suggesting that there many such readers, should ever feel the urge to express their complaints about the service or the price, I suggest to just look around the clinic and the service being given. The money here is really of no significance. A monthly insurance of 75,000 won or under and with that pennies for a visit to a local clinic can not compare to the lie that is a “free HCS” based on taxes about which most people forget and praise the not so immediate gratification over the long forgotten costs.

But that’s an all different article…………..