The four VIP rooms at Seoul National University Hospital in northern Seoul are full up as two ex-presidents and two tycoons have their ailments seen to.
Ex-President Roh Tae-woo (81), who was hospitalized on Aug. 26 due to a surge in blood pressure, is the only high-profile patient not staying in one of the 12th floor VIP rooms. He had to be relegated to a deluxe room in the cancer ward on the sixth floor.
The other VIP patients there are former President Kim Young-sam (86), Hanwha Group chairman Kim Seung-youn (61) and CJ Group chairman Lee Jay-hyun. The fourth room is occupied by a mystery patient.
There are also 26 regular suites on the 12th floor, but they are smaller and lack guest rooms for retinue.
Roh's room on the sixth floor has been remodeled and is the same size as the VIP rooms, according to SNU Hospital staff, and he is in line to be moved up to the 12th floor as soon as a room becomes vacant.
Kim Young-sam, who was hospitalized in April with pneumonia, may be able to leave the hospital soon, but staff say he still needs treatment.
The Hanwha Group chairman has been hospitalized since January with depression and breathing problems after being sentenced to four years in jail last year for causing losses to his conglomerate and evading taxes. He has put off the start of his sentence three times already.
The CJ Group chairman was imprisoned for embezzlement and dereliction of duty but was taken to hospital on Aug. 20 for a kidney transplant. The surgery took place Wednesday and Lee is likely to be in hospital till the end of November, though he could stay longer if recovery is slow.
A VIP room costs W600,000 to W1 million a day (US$1=W1,117), but ex-presidents are entitled to free treatment and rooms. If they are admitted to a private hospital, the state covers all their expenses.