By Bae Ji-sook
A total of 1,061 foreigners visited Korean hospitals in May, up 41.3 percent from the same month last year, the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs said Sunday.
The government expects medical tourism to boom after the Medical Law was revised on May 1 allowing hospitals to aggressively attract overseas patients.
According to the Council for Korea Medicine Overseas Promotion, a group of hospitals seeking foreign patients, 1,061 overseas patients visited six of its members, including Seoul National University Hospital and Ajou University Medical Center in May. The figure is a huge jump from 751 in May 2008.
``The government and hospitals have been trying to induce foreigners who would like to get high-quality, low-priced medical treatment and enjoy traveling in Korea. The effort is finally paying off,'' said Park Geum-ryeol, a ministry official.
But the government has yet to check whether the surge is thanks to a Korean tour craze based on the weaker won or the lure of medical tourism.