However, I don't like going to see a doctor unless I must but it would appear that others here view things differently. I do feel that Koreans have a tendency to stray close to the line of hypochondria. Often they go to the doctor or the 'hospital' when it would appear that what they have is not so serious. When I hear the word hospital back home it means something is badly wrong and often an emergency but here some people go or send their children there a lot more freely and for less serious ailments.
I come from the land of the National Health Service, which is free. People tend not to abuse the system which is always heaving with people. We value the doctors and nurses who work in it and when we look around at other countries we count ourselves as lucky. My take on health is different I know. If you're paying through insurance maybe you feel that you have the right to take advantage of it.
I know people work hard here and taking time off work is a faux pas. It's 'just not cricket' to take a sick day unless you are really in a bad state so I understand why Koreans try their best to stay healthy. I think the 'you don't come in you don't get paid' aspect of things might have a bearing on this though.
I wonder if it is the people themselves or the doctors that encourage patients to come and see them. I would never go to the doctor if I had a cold in England, never, but here it is commonplace and accepted. There is an industry built around treatment and care for things that I feel you would naturally just feel better/shake off given time. I think some people are being ripped off or taken advantage of. I find some treatment, care and aids here a bit over the top and a little at odds to a country that has had so many wars and gone through tough times. Perhaps that is an old fashioned and outdated viewpoint.
Pictured is one of my students - this device I have seen several times in my years here. From what I can gather he injured it playing sport of some kind. His mother took him to the doctors/hospital and there you go, he now has a metal finger. It's important to mention that his finger was not broken and according to him he was in no noticeable pain. I don't deny the injury, just question the treatment.
I have also seen dozens of kids and adults with eye patches and wonder if they are to protect the eye or to hide their problem from people. I sometimes wonder, are people ashamed of being ill/sick? There are other examples too but inconveniently they slip my mind as I write this.
I suppose if the treatment is available then why not use it. Korea certainly has come a long way since the 50's in many regards, health care being one of them.