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Located in northeast Asia, South Korea is bordered by the Sea of Japan to the east and the Yellow Sea to the west. The urban district of Seoul, the capital, is home to nearly half the country's population andis one of the most densely populated megacities in the world.

South Korea covers the southern half of the Korean peninsula. It shares its only border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the north, following the partition of the territory in 1945. After the end of the Korean War in 1953, South Korea experienced a real economic boom: it was, in 2021, the 10th largest economy in the world in terms of GDP.

Did you know?
South Korea is often referred to as the "Land of the morning calm". This is actually a mistranslation of Chosŏn, 朝鮮, which literally translates as "Land of the cool morning".

Healthcare system

Discover how the South Korean healthcare system works

Since the 1950s, the health sector has undergone some remarkable improvements. So much so thatSouth Korea's healthcare system is now among the best in the world.

The country can boast top quality medical care, provided by highly qualified professionals. The very modern medical infrastructure comfortably meets international standards.

Thanks touniversal health insurancein South Korea, a wide range of healthcare services can be provided at a reasonable cost. The national health insurance system is managed by theNational Health Insurance Service (NHIS).

 

Healthcare formalities for expatriates

As of July 2019, all foreign nationals residing in South Korea for more than 6 months are required to contribute to the health insurance scheme. The amount of contributions varies depending on employment status and salary. On average it costs 110,000 KRW per month (around €80).
  • If you are working in South Korea under a local employment contract: your employer will enroll you in the health insurance scheme. The company pays 50% of the employee's healthcare and 5% of salary is deducted to fund the health insurance contributions.
 
  • If you are self-employed in South Korea: you will have to apply for enrolment yourself. You will only be able to join the health insurance scheme once you have obtained yourResidence Card(or ARC - Alien Registration Card). This card is mandatory for all foreign nationals wishing to stay in the country for more than 90 days.
 
The South Korean health insurance scheme generally covers 50% to 80% of medical expenses (consultation with a general practitioner, specialist, hospitalization, etc.). It is also highly recommended to take out international health insurance before going to live in South Korea. This will ensure you are covered for the type of stay, your healthcare needs and those of your family. In addition, it will allow you to benefit from repatriation insurance, which is essential during a stay abroad.
 

Visiting a doctor

Most doctors speak good English in the large cities, but this is not the case for all healthcare personnel. To find a French-speaking doctor, you can consult thewebsite of the French Embassy in South Korea.

As far as the cost of healthcare is concerned, it is very affordable: a consultation with a general practitioner averages between 10 and 15 euros (between 13,600 and 20,000 South Korean won).

Traditional Korean medicineis very much a part of medical practices in South Korea, both in the large cities and outside the urban areas. You will find many clinics offering herbal treatments, acupuncture, moxibustion, aromatherapy, and more.

Being admitted to hospital

In South Korea, the number of healthcare facilities has increased by 32% over the past 10 years,according to the FKCCI. Hospitals are highly efficient and equipped with modern facilities.

These are the best-known hospitals in Seoul:
If you are admitted to hospital, you may be asked to pay the cost of the stay and any tests and examinations in advance.

90% of hospitals in South Korea are private, and 10% belong to the public sector. However, public sector hospitals are not free, the patient contributes 20% to the cost of the hospitalization which is why it is advisable to take out private insurance to cover the remaining amount. It also gives the patient access to the private sector.

Buying medication

Under the health insurance scheme, the patient's contribution to the purchase of medication is generally 35% of the total cost.

Many medicines are available in convenience stores and supermarkets (treatments for colds, fever, intestinal disorders, etc.). In pharmacies, you often need to get a prescription from a doctor because not many medicines are available over the counter.

Good to know: if you are traveling with medication, especially sleeping pills or painkillers, remember to take your doctor's prescription with you to avoid any problems at the airport.

Vaccinations to be carried out

No vaccines are mandatory for South Korea, but it is advisable to be up to date with the universal vaccines (diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, etc.).

Depending on the type of stay, vaccination may also be recommended against Japanese encephalitis, rabies, typhoid, and hepatitis A.

You should also be careful to guard against coronavirus: follow the protective measures, wash your hands regularly, wear a mask when required, etc. Consult our FAQ on the subject to find out more.

Health risks

South Korea has suffered from several outbreaks of avian flu (H1N1) in recent years. It is therefore advisable to avoid contact with poultry and birds (in markets, for example).

Malaria is only present in some northern provinces (Gyeonggi and Gangwon). If you plan a stay in these regions between May and September, remember to protect yourself from mosquito bites (wear long clothes, use repellents, etc.).

Good to know : 
  
Here are the numbers to call in an emergency in South Korea: 
  • Fire and ambulance: 119 
  • Police: 112 
  • English-speaking call center for medical emergencies: 1339 
  • French Embassy in Seoul: + 82 2-3149-4300   

Get your health insurance for South Korea

MSH can help you design the best international health insurance plan to suit your needs.

Going for less than a year?  
We have the righthealth insurance plan to cover you for 1 to 12 months, whether it's for a personal project, an apprenticeship, a working holiday or any other reason.

Going for a year or more?
Explore ourcomprehensive and highly flexible health insurancesolutions to protect you and your family while you're abroad.

Korte feiten

Officiële naam

Republiek Korea

Belangrijkste steden

Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju

Hoofdstad

Seoel

Regering

Unitaire presidentiële constitutionele republiek

Gesproken taal

WHV South Korea

Essential Information

Duration: 12 months non-renewable

List of participating countries as of January 2021: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States

Cost of the visa: Applications for a Korean WHV are free for French nationals although from March 2021, a fee of €60 is payable to the KVAC, which will process your application.

For Belgian citizens, the application costs €50.40 (payable in cash only) and $117 for Canadians.

Turnaround time: 1 week

 

Fees may vary depending on nationality

Application requirements

To apply for a visa for South Korea, you must:

  • Be between 18 and 30 years old (inclusive) at the time of application
  • Hold a valid passport from any country having signed an agreement with South Korea
  • Have sufficient funds to meet your needs at the beginning of your stay (€2,500 minimum)
  • Not be accompanied by dependents during your stay
  • Not previously have entered South Korea on a Working Holiday Visa (first application)
  • Have international health insurance for the duration of your stay
  • Apply for a WHV as long as the year's quotas have not been reached
  • Have a return ticket or proof of having the means to purchase one
  • Have a clean criminal record

 

Please note that Working Holiday Visa conditions may vary depending on the country

How to get your Visa

To apply for a visa, you must follow the procedure set out on the page of the relevant embassy:

Here is the link to the visa application form to be completed and signed:https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/upload/cntnts/fr-fr/visakorean.pdf

 

Please note that the documents required may vary depending on the embassy / consulate. We therefore recommend getting up-to-date official information from the relevant embassy / consulate before making any plans.

Verhalen van onze klanten

Verhaal: ik werd wakker met MSH

Rachel woont in Togo en is al sinds 2002 lid van MSH. Na een routine-operatie raakte ze in een coma die 2 maanden duurde. Haar ziekenhuisopname kostte meer dan € 200.000 - maar al deze kosten werden betaald door MSH, zonder dat zij er betrokken bij hoefde te zijn. Doordat het team snel reageerde en de situatie soepel afhandelde kon Rachels familie extra stress vermijden - net als Rachel zelf toen ze wakker werd.
Verhaal: MSH was mijn redder in nood

Mattieu maakte een trektocht door een Peruaanse canyon toen hij opeens meerdere meters naar beneden viel en zijn knieschijf en elleboog brak: "Na 12 dagen in een lokaal ziekenhuis werd ik teruggestuurd naar Frankrijk, waar ik nog 2 weken in het ziekenhuis lag en nog maanden fysiotherapie kreeg", herinnert hij zich. De kosten van Matthieu’s ziekenhuisopname, repatriëring en revalidatie werden allemaal vergoed door MSH: "Zonder mijn particuliere ziektekostenverzekering was het een nachtmerrie geweest: € 16.000 voor het ziekenhuis en € 50.000 voor mijn repatriëring met twee luchtambulances - kun je het je voorstellen?"
Verhaal: mijn second opinion

Petra was erg bezorgd over een operatie die haar na een ongeluk thuis was aangeraden. Ze wilde graag een second opinion hebben voor ze haar besluit nam. Dankzij haar particuliere ziektekostenverzekering, waarin een secondopiniongarantie was opgenomen, kon ze snel een tweede arts spreken en kreeg ze alle antwoorden op haar vragen. De tweede arts was het ermee eens dat de operatie noodzakelijk was en Petra ging met een gerust hart naar het ziekenhuis.
Ontdek hun verhalen

For more information

Find out about other countries' healthcare system

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