exploration journal

At the doctor in Korea

These last days I had a little health issue (no drama, nothing serious) and this morning I asked advice to Sun, who runs the guesthouse.

Sun comes every morning at the guesthouse and is available by phone when we need help. She has been living in France for several years in the past, so she speaks French very well.

She is caring and helpful.


To me Sun appears like a magic hotline.

A good fairy who has solutions you had not even thought of, who always goes beyond your expectations – when you are helpless and know nothing of a very different country, it’s like a miracle.

So I told Sun about my problem. I thought I would go to a pharmacy to buy a proper medicine. But Sun told me that it would be more relevant to see a doctor to make sure I have the right treatment. She explained to me that here, it was easy to see a doctor, and not so expensive.


She started making calls.

Today is a public holiday here (National Foundation Day) and some medical centers are closed. She called her husband. She called several medical centers. She found a place. She explained to me very precisely where to go and what to do.

She wrote a note in Korean to explain what was my problem – very useful because not so many people speak English fluently. And at the doctor it is better to communicate properly, right ?!

And she advised me to hurry up because today was Saturday + a public holiday, so the place would close early. No shower, no make-up, no hairstyle, I get dressed in 30 seconds – I can tell you this is totally unKorean !


I take the metro for one station and exit at Hapjeong.

It’s around 10am. From outside I would not spontaneously have guessed this place was a medical center. I have to go to F2. That is to say : second floor.


photo 1(10)


There is a waiting-room with many posters and things written everywhere – I understand nothing, of course.

There is a desk with medical assistants who welcome the patients. They don’t speak English, so I am really happy to have my « symptoms briefing note » from Sun. I write my name and date of birth.


The consultation

I sit for 2 minutes and one of the 3 assistants tells me to enter one of the consultation room. The doctor is around 40, I would say. He asks me basic questions in English (allergies, other symptoms), takes my temperature in my ear.

He writes on his computer and tells me that he gives me a prescription : an ointment (une crème). He tells me I will get the prescription at the welcome desk.

I thank him : « kamsa hamnida » – at the beginning I really had the feeling I was learning arabic, but no, it is really Korean language 😉 !

I pay 17 000 wons (around 13 euros) and get my printed prescription.

Downstairs, there is a pharmacy.


Discovering medicines in Korea !

There is a young man waiting and I am quite curious about the medicines he gets. It looks like home-made potions in white and pink plastic flask ! And it goes with small sachets of yellow powder… Amazing. Totally different from what I know.

My turn. I can’t wait to see what I will get in this different paradigm pharmacy haha ! And I am not disappointed… I get my ointment in a bright-yellow round box. It seems to be a hand-made preparation. The young lady tells me : « twice a day ». All I need to know. I pay 7 000 won (about 6 euros).

Here it is (!!) :


photo 2(10)


I get out of the building and enter the metro again.

I want to go back home and have a shower now !



Not surprisingly, while travelling and living abroad, going to the doctor was not THE experience I wished to have and absolutely looked for… ! It was not a moment when I felt at my best…

However, I think it was really a good experience. Now I know how it is to go to the doctor in Korea – even if it was a very short glimpse which is not necessarily representative.

Well, again, I am so glad Sun was there to make it so smooth and easy !