S’porean Shares How Seoul Trip Turned into Nightmare When Trying to Get to Hospital


Getting sick at home is already so dreadful. Quarantining with COVID for a week while FOMO-ing watching everyone in your Instagram stories is one of the worst feelings.

But falling ill in a foreign land is a whole different story. Imagine going abroad for a relaxing vacay just to end up in the hospital because of something wrong you ate.

This happened to a particular TikTok user holidaying in Seoul, who had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night when public transport doesn’t run and it is very, very hard to get a taxi.

The silver lining? The hospital bill. It would’ve been so much worse elsewhere.

The Details

User xueyay posted a TikTok detailing her experience in a Korean hospital’s emergency room due to severe food poisoning while on holiday in Seoul.

According to her, finding a taxi in the middle of the night in Seoul would be a “nightmare” if you didn’t have a Korean number.

She mentioned that it would be challenging to get a driver on the app Kakao Taxi, the Korean equivalent of Grab, using ‘General Request’, which foreigners can only use, before 7 am.

She said they were advised against calling an ambulance by the hotel reception due to the surcharge. She ran around the streets trying to hail a cab as they couldn’t find a driver on Kakao Taxi for 1.5 hours.

None of the cabs stopped, but they got a cab on Kakao Taxi at 7 am.

They went to Yongin Severance Hospital, the hospital nearest to their hotel in Hongdae.

Image: TikTok (@xueyay)

As many English-speaking medical clinics are closed on Sundays, they had to go to the emergency room (ER).

She mentioned that for a foreigner to visit the ER in Korea, they need to bring their passport and wear their masks. An upfront fee of 500,000 won (~SG$500) must be paid, which will be used to offset your total bill.

To claim insurance, one must get a doctor’s letter and a receipt with their particulars accurately reflected.

She mentioned that a companion can go in with the patient as long as they register with their passport.

Doctors and nurses do not speak English much. Still, their communication was smooth as they used Papago to translate, and all medication, prescriptions and directions in the hospital have English translations.

The doctors ran an X-ray, blood test and urine test before providing a diagnosis and administering treatment. They spent approximately four to five hours in the ER.


They were also placed on IV drips and were given antibiotic shots. While they weren’t put in a ward, they were attended to in a room where they sat on reclining chairs, similar to those at a massage parlour.

Their upfront cost was offset on their receipt, with the bulk of their bill due to tests and consultation. They did not need to use a Korean bank credit card, and their Singapore-based one worked just fine.

Image: TikTok (@xueyay)

In the caption, she said, “Manifesting those seeing this to not end up sick overseas like we did.”

Netizens’ Reactions

Netizens in the comments were shocked at how inexpensive the hospital bill was and also advised the user on other steps to take.

Image: TikTok

The bill for something like this could even reach the thousands if she visited the US instead.

Image: TikTok

One commenter even said they would go to the hospital for fun because of how cheap it was. A form of travel accommodation, perhaps?

Image: TikTok

While some said that going to the hospital for food poisoning doesn’t help, others fought back, saying food poisoning could be on many levels of severity.

Image: TikTok

One thing’s for sure: never forget your insurance when you travel.