Going to a Doctor in Korea

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Last Updated on August 25, 2017 by Christine Kaaloa

korean nurse, getting a shot in the butt Going to a Doctor in Korea

Updates: Shout out to my fellow EPIKers for passing the 2 month stretch!  b) Amanda’s blog confession totally rocked and I thank her for the mention! She’s a tough cookie, yet I didn’t know she was undergoing a culture shock, as well.   c) Christo’s 2 month battle without a budge is heartbreaking and angering- we’re all rooting for him!   d) Since moving here, I’ve experienced both, good and bad and it’s not my intention to Korea bash. Everyone has different stories to tell. Some have very happy stories, some not. This is luck of the draw.  e) I promise I have some fun blogging about my travels around Korea, I do! I do! It’s been overshadowed until now; f) next weekend, I’m off to Seoul, to pick up my family who is flying out to visit me!

So I finally did it.

I went to the hospital for my cold.

I even got that “shot in the butt” that other expats have talked about.

Yes, the nurse lightly tapped on my tushie and gave me  the needle.

I felt incrementally better .

Getting sick while traveling is one adventure. Getting sick after you’ve just moved to live and work in Korea is another!

The ‘Yellow Dust’ cough attack

I was coming down with a light cough over my two-day weekend in Busan and thanks to a particularly bad yellow dust day a couple of days later, it blossomed into cough-attacks, coughing-fits and even heaving convulsions. I can feel it when it hits my lungs. When I went into a coughing fit, it felt like I was trying to unearth a deeply lodged itch; but in essence, it was dust.

All of that cough was enough to strip my throat raw and it ultimately opened the door to a raging cold.

It’s the worst case of dry itch-cough I’ve every experienced. I suspect it’s worse than smoker’s lung.

I realize now, the Korean Crud is another term for Yellow Dust.

Although my apartment feels like an air-tight tomb at night, there are some nights that itch in the back of my throat comes and I feel prone to it. That’s when I wear my yellow dust mask at night and …yes, while I’m sleeping.


How to avoid catching a cold from Yellow Dust

There’s actually no way you can avoid Yellow Dust. The best is avoid inhaling it or getting it in your throat. When you know it will be a dusty day, close your apartment windows and don’t go outdoors without a sick mask.

Don’t know when the Yellow Dust alerts are?

I find observing other Koreans helps. If you see an unusual amount of people wearing sick masks, especially children, that’s a sign there’s been a ‘Yellow Dust’ alert.

These days, I stash one in my office desk and one in my bag.


Going to the doctor in Korea

When you’re going to the Korean doctor for a cold, it’s common practice to receive a shot in the butt.

If you’re wondering why the extreme measures, let me explain…

Seeing the doctor or going to a doctor’s clinic in Korea, is referred to as “going to the hospital”. Don’t ask me why…

And ” a shot in the butt” is a mild exaggeration.

To be more specific, the “butt shot’s” insertion point is below your hip and above your butt so removing underwear and bending over was not something you have to do.

Nobody knows what’s inside these shots. Some say it’s a vitamin booster. Many  profess to feeling immediately better.

But my voice was still feeling raw.

Going to the doctor in Korea: needles from the hostpitalGoing to a Doctor in Korea: These booster shot injections are common. Many think it’s extra Vitamin C.

As my voice and coughs were getting noticeably worse, my co-teacher kindly drove me to the hospital during school.

The hospital was only five minutes away and around the corner from my apartment. But it was a bad ‘Yellow Dust’ day and my co-teacher was concerned my symptoms might worsen, especially as I forgot my sick mask at home!

My hospital visit consisted of a doctor’s consultation, two x-ray exams (yeah, really), a diagnosis that there was nothing serious, a booster shot to the butt and a three-day medicine prescription.

Grand total?

After medical insurance -which covers half my expenses- my total landed at somewhere under $4 USD.

going to the doctor in koreaThis is my packet of medicine.  $4USD for a 3 day supply


My face mask collection is slowly growing

I’ve wanted to grow my sick mask collection.

Love Story was the name of my first mask and it’s made me curious about the circumstances that might draw my second.  Well, my second mask is for my  first hospital visit, but unfortunately, the hospital’s pharmacy offered very little option! pbbt.

Okay, so there you have it.

Anti-climactic, but a fully functional Kitty Pink ‘Yellow Dust’ mask.

e2pKPoyF9F2iJdeaTLqRZ6J3wag xlFlwhhZQkoS2IeY=w640 h480 noMy new pink Yellow Dust mask  (mousepad not included)

Living in Korea, I suggest you pick up a sick mask for yourself! Have you been to a doctor in Korea?

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  • I know, where have I been? Here. I promise. Just trying to dismantle my former life.:)

    Okay, first, what is this yellow dust? I keep imaging turmeric blowing around Busan. And way to score cheap pills! Glad you’re feeling better. Pardon me if my comments will start appearing in descending order, I’m working my way backwards through your old posts.

    Love, love the updates. 🙂

  • So, if I’m in Korea in the middle of October, the bad air season should over, right? Or should I bring a face mask anyway?

  • Wow. Medical care there is ridiculously cheap! It might actually be cheaper to fly to Korea for medical care than to get it here in the US! LOL.

  • Christine, thanx for the shout out! Things are certainly looking up and from here on out we just have to get back into travel mode! That’s who we are and what led us on this epic (k) journey in the first place! I really hope you return to good health soon! Good luck and hope to see you soon!


  • chris, you are hilarious. keep them coming. your articles are a joy to read. and hats off to you for uprooting yourself to go see and experience more 🙂

    • @Kathy: Supposedly in Oct you should be in the clear. If you find yourself here and in need of a face/sick mask, you should have many to choose from. They’re sold year round 😉
      @Gray: Hey- Korea touts themself as a one-stop shop for medical tourism. At least that’s one perk!
      @Christo:Yes, agreed! I love that you’re always try to stay positive about things. Get into travel mode, here we come!
      @Johanna: Thanks for the hats, lady… but bring me home. wah!

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