Going to the doctor

Going to the doctor in Korea Part 1

Going to the doctor in Korea Part 1

Going to the hospital in Korea can be a very interesting experience. It is very much unlike doctor offices in the west. Many N.E.S. here in Korea often look for the a “English-speaking” doctor whenever they get sick. This is usually not the most difficult task if you live in Seoul or in Busan. However, it can be an impossible feat if you live outside the big cities. So, through having to drag myself to the doctors office, I learned a lot of simple phrases to help you make it through a routine visit. Many of these phrases can also be used at a pharmacy if you want to drop by to get some medicine. Unlike in the U.S. you have to tell them what’s wrong with you and they will give you a recommended medicine. To hear phrases spoken, watch the YouTube video or paste them into Google translate and hit the speaker button.


The first thing you have to do when you go to a doctor’s office in Korea is fill out a card. It’s the standard fare: Name, Date of Birth,Address, Social Security number.

In Korean, name is written as 이름 or 성함(honorfically).

You will need your DOB or 생년월일 as well.

Address is 주소 which is pretty simple and easy to member.

Finally you have your SSN which is your 주민번호 and is located on your ARC card.

Once you’ve made it through this, the person at the desk will usually ask you what’s wrong with you. In Korean, it is written as:

어떻게 아프세요?

It literally means “What’s wrong with you?

Let’s go through a list of simple responses:

My head hurts.

머리 아파요.

My eye hurts.

눈 아파요.

My ear hurts.

귀 아파요.

My neck/throat hurts.

목 아파요.

My hand hurts.

손 아파요.

My wrist hurts.

손목 아파요.

My arm hurts.

팔 아파요.

My back hurts.

등 아파요.

My chest hurts.

가슴 아파요.

My waist hurts.

허리 아파요.

My stomach hurts.

배 아파요.

My leg hurts.

다리 아파요.

My knee hurts.

무릎 아파요.

My ankle hurts.

발목 아파요.

My foot hurts.

발 아파요.

I caught a cold.

감기 걸렸어요.

I have a stuffy nose.

코가 막혀요.

I have a runny nose.

콧물이 나요.

I have a cough.

기침이 나요.

I threw up. I vomited.


I have indegestion.

소화가 안 돼요.

I have bad menstrual cramps.

생리통이 심해요.

I have diarrhea.

설사가 나요.

This list contains so VERY simple ways to say that you are hurt/sick that will help you get through the process of seeing a doctor very quickly. Once you’ve told the nurse your problems, you will need to sit down and wait. While you are waiting, the nurses begin to type in your information and can check the status of your insurance through your social security number. Some teachers end up finding out they have no insurance the moment they go to use it. If the nurse can’t find your insurance she will most likely say:

보험이 안 되는데요.

This means: “I don’t think you have insurance”. So, they have entered the information in several times and the system has turned up nothing. This phrase will most likely be followed by:

비쌀 것 같아요.

This means: “I think it will be expensive”. If you are an American like me, you know prices to see doctors in Korea are ridiculously cheap for routine things like minor sicknesses. I’ve found that treatment fees will be around 30-40k without insurance which isn’t a big deal to me.

There are some possible responses to this revelation of no insurances.

1. “I have insurance”. 보험이 있는데요.

2. “I’m sorry? Please check it again”. 네? 다시 확인해 주세요.

3.“I know. I will pay for it.” 알아요. 지불할게요.


Knowing these small phrases can help you get in and out of a doctor’s office with zero problems and they are not difficult to learn. Even if you are not someone who plans on studying Korean seriously, it can definitely come in handy to learn small phrases.


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