For medical procedures, many foreigners come to Korea from all over the world because of the reasonable prices and high quality. I remember while I was living in America, I hated going to the dentist and eye doctor because of how much money I would spend for my medical procedures. Even with insurance, I’d pay at least $80-$100 for each visit. Luckily here in Korea, the prices are not astronomical. Here are some tips to help you save money while you are living and teaching in Korea.1. Visiting the Optometrist:
Eyeglass stores and contact lens shops are pretty much everywhere in Korea. A pair of eyeglass frames can easily start at $100 without the lens in America . Shopping in Seoul, I can buy a minimum of two complete pairs for that price. The best places to shop for eyeglasses in Seoul are at Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Night Market, Hongdae, and Ewha University. These are some of the cheapest places to buy a stylish pair or two.
The cheapest pair of frames cost 10,000 won but if you buy more than one pair, definitely try to negotiate the price. As long as you are shopping from an outside vendor, they are normally willing to strike a deal. All the glasses I have bought were made in Korea and are of high quality. After purchasing, take those glasses to any eye doctor. Normal lenses are about 25,000 won and scratch-resistant lenses are 35,000 won.
With minimal Korean skills, you will be able to get your eyes checked and get to pick up your pair within the same day. Here are some words that you should know:
How much for the eyeglasses? 얼마나 안경은 (Ol-ma-na an-gyeong-eun)
Right side – 오른쪽 (Or-en-chok)
Left side – 왼쪽 (Wen-chok)
The same – 똑같애 (To-ka-tae)
For buying contact lenses, a pair starts at 5,000 won but I would suggest to spend a little bit more money for these. Most places to get your eyes checked will be free as long as you buy a pair of lenses. If not, they may charge you about 10,000 won. Most boxes of daily lenses start at 25,000. If you go to a good lens place, hopefully you will get some eye contact solution and lens cases for free.
2. Visiting the Dentist:
Going to the dentist in America was always a painful ordeal. Necessary, but painful. When I realized I hadn’t gone to the dentist in over 4 years, I knew it was time to go for a routine check-up or ‘scaling’. Koreans take their teeth cleaning regime seriously. After every meal, you can go into the bathroom and see someone brushing his or her teeth. I, however, am not like that.
Upon entering the dentist here in Korea, I could hear the sound of drills going. I was able to talk to one of the nurses with some basic Korean mixed with English, and we got my paperwork completed. The dentist’s office was very clean and bright which made me feel a bit comfortable. As I sat down in the patient’s chair, the head dentist came in and did a quick check of my teeth and gums. Luckily, there was nothing wrong he said (thank you Korean toothpaste)! The dentist left the room and the nurse took care of me from there. She said “if you experience discomfort, raise your left hand”. A sense of panic came over me because I knew they were going to go after my gums. My chair tilted back and they put a piece of protective cloth all over my face only leaving my mouth open. After about 15 minutes of drilling, picking, and polishing, my teeth looked pretty good and I was feeling good too. This was not the painful experience that I was accustomed to. With my insurance card, the cost was only 14,000 won. For fun I asked how much it would be without insurance and they told me 50,000 won. It was way cheaper than what I would pay back home.
3. Getting a Haircut:
Although this is not a medical procedure, many people are intimidated of getting a haircut in Korea. A lot of this fear is because Korean hairstyles are very different from Western hairstyles. If you are a male and want to get a Western style haircut, I suggest looking for a barber in the Itaewon area. Many of the barbers there consistently deal with foreigners so they know what style you are looking for. Most barbers charge 10,000-12,000 won for a male haircut. If you are a female, many of my friends go to hairstylists like Lucy Hair and Juno Hair near Sinchon (near Hongdae, do not confuse this with Sincheon near Jamsil). Many of the stylists there speak a decent amount of English. Also, some places like Juno Hair have iPads where you can search for the latest hair design. The starting price for a trim is about 25,000 won depending on your hair length.
Many foreigners can save a lot of money getting these procedures here. If you are looking to save money and getting something stylish, you don’t have to look too hard. Just check out the top spots that I’ve selected for you!
I hope these tips on how to save money for routine health and beauty procedures for when you are in Korea.
Marc Gonzales has been living in Seoul working at the ChungDahm's Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. During those 4 years, he worked his way up from being a teacher and is now a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.