Most Medical Tourists Now Come from China

Chinese visitors have beat out Americans to take the No. 1 spot in the Korean medical tourism market.

The Korea Health Industry Development Institute announced recently that a total of 159,464 people from 188 countries visited Korea in 2012 to seek medical treatment and spent W267.3 billion (US$1=W1,059). This marks a 30.4 percent rise in the number of visitors compared to 2011. Medical spending rose 47.8 percent.

Chinese patients claimed the top spot for the first time since 2009, when collection of statistics began, accounting for 32,503 visitors, or 20.4 percent. Next in the rankings were Americans (19.2 percent), Japanese (12.4 percent), Russians (10.3 percent), and Mongolians (5.3 percent).

Han Dong-woo at the institute said, "The number of Chinese medical tourists has grown seven-fold since 2009, and they mainly sought cosmetic surgery and dermatological treatment."

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 17, 2014 09:10 KST