Posted : 2012-05-25 20:08
Updated : 2012-05-25 20:08

Moving to Korea brings medical, social changes

Dear Dr. P: I came to Korea to teach English 3 months ago. I have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and I need a doctor to prescribe me medication and monitor me. I have been taking Adderall for several years in the U.S. But it seems that the only medications for ADHD available in Korea are Ritalin and Strattera (Atomoxetine) How can I get Adderall for myself in Korea? Also, is there a significant stigma attached to taking ADHD meds in Korea? Should I tell anyone about my ADHD here? (Anonymous)

Dear Anonymous: Many people think the attention deficit disorder is only a serious problem for child and adolescents who need to concentrate on studying. In fact, the treatment of adult ADHD is still not covered by national insurance. However you need to be careful to tell anyone about psychiatric treatment.

Unfortunately, Adderall, which is a popular prescription medication for ADHD in the United States, is not available in Korea, because one of its ingredient, dextroamphetamine, is prohibited here.

So far, I have prescribed other ADHD medications such as Ritalin, Methadate CD, Concerta, and Strattra as alternative medications to foreign patients whom had been taking Adderall. Certainly the method of action is not the same as Adderall, but they can offer similar effects. If you still have trouble finding Addreall, I’d recommend you to try one of those medications above. (Dr. P)

Dear Dr. P: I am moving to Korea to teach English soon, and I wanted to understand some general aspects of the culture; what is appropriate and what is not. What can I expect from interacting with Korean people? (Lisa Desu)

Dear Lisa: First off, I'd like to welcome you to Korea. Living your life in a completely unfamiliar land can be a challenge, but on the other hand it can be a big worry as well. You may feel unstable or insecure.

However, I feel that the principles of living in this world are virtually the same across the map. In the Bible, it says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In Buddhism, it is taught that, "All life should be revered the same respect as Buddha."

Similarly, the national idea of the founding of Korea is "Hong Ik In Gan."

This translates to "devotion to the welfare of mankind." Of course, there will be differences depending on the person, but generally speaking Korea is a safe place with many people open to welcome new friends.

However, just as you worry, I feel that there will be a cultural gap. To adapt to such cultural differences can be quickly summed up like this. Firstly, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." The same applies in Korea ― when in Korea, do as Koreans do. Secondly, if there is something you don't understand or are unfamiliar with, ask a lot of questions. Thirdly, rather than trying too hard to establish a relationship of complete assimilation with a Korean person, base your relationship on helping each other out and doing your best to be a good friend. (Dr.P)

Park Jin-seng is a psychiatrist who runs a clinic for foreigners in Seoul and operates the personal therapist forums on Please submit questions for Park to or call the hotline at 1588-4276.
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