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Korean Traditional Medicine

A Look Into A South Korean Traditional Clinic

Bucheon, South Korea

Something that’s a plus in South Korea is the convenience of everything being so close to one another. You can find many different businesses located in one building that will actually be useful if you explore it. My building has had a traditional medicine clinic and I haven’t been to it until recently.

Walking In

I was unsure if this was actually a clinic, so I asked the staff. Their English was limited but I used what I knew to ask them and when that wasn’t enough I used Papago or Google Translate for the rest of the conversation. I was told to take off my shoes and put on the clinic shoes, write my name and my phone number, and take a seat. I took out my laptop to try to make use of my time in the waiting room, but before I could open a word document, I was called in.

The Doctor Will See You

I spoke with the doctor and his English ability was better, but I had to talk slowly. This was good because I was able to speak in half Korean and half English so that we would be able to understand each other well. I told him that my throat, ears, nose, and my back hurt. He asked for my ARC (alien registration card) and medical insurance card.

The Process

After he entered in my information, I was asked to lay down on a bed and change into a clinic shirt. After a couple minutes a weighted heat press was placed on my back and it felt cozy. Shortly thereafter a suction apparatus was placed to prepare for the acupuncture. I have to admit, I was worried about having who knows how many needles stuck in my at once. When the doctor administered them, I felt a prick when they went in, but then I couldn’t feel them afterward. The whole process took about 45 minutes and it was pleasant.

The Cost

It was ₩20,000 for the optional acupuncture and heated treatment and ₩10,000 for the medicine. The medicine was two days worth and tasted terrible, but it has been working. You know when you were younger and your grandma took a mortar and pestle to grind up some herbs to make you drink some strange milk of magnesia mixture? It tasted horrible, but it was just what you needed. I guess before medicine was placed into capsules and tablets, there were just herbs, powders, and mixtures, which did the trick as well.

While it took me the better part of two weeks to fully recover from ear, throat, and nose pain, I would say that this clinic visit played a role in my recovery. The Korean government deserves praise for keeping medicine so cheap. Even a visit to the ER won’t run you as much as it would in the United Sates. During my first year in Korea I developed an ear infection during Chuseok, which is the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving and the hospitals were closed. Only the ER was open. I was skeptical about going, but I eventually did because the pain was unbearable and it only cost me 75 bucks. The antibiotics were four dollars. It sounds like a joke right? In the U.S, getting sick can be a death sentence, but here it’s manageable, efficient, and convenient. If traditional medicine isn’t your style, walking into a pharmacy is a great choice as well with more agreeable tasting medicine.Pharmacies are numerous in each city and they are reasonably priced. If you are worried about getting sick while in Korea, don’t be. The healthcare system is great!

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