Jeju, South Korea's biggest island, is transforming into a medical destination for foreign patients who are looking for world-class treatments as well as tourism attractions. Jeju Healthcare Town will start construction from the end of this year with the first step due to be completed early next year.
Jeju Healthcare Town will consist of three facilities a Wellness Park, Medical Park and R&D Park. The local government set aside a site of 1.48 million square meters in Seogwipo to build the healthcare complex, where JDC will invest approximately US $614 million.
One of main themes of the Jeju Healthcare Town is medical treatment and research for a long life. Jeju will attract foreign patients who want to have check-up regularly for their healthy life to the Wellness Park and then, they will develop the sites for an anti-aging R&D center in the R&D Park. The medical facilities and R&D Park will support and improve medical treatment used in the Wellness Park.
There are three positive factors pointing to success for Jeju Healthcare Town. First of all, geographically, Jeju Island is located off the south coast of South Korea, between China and Japan. Eighteen cities with populations of more than 5 million are within 2 hours' flight of Jeju Island. This geographic advantage will attract overseas patients who want to take advantage of tourism as well as medical treatment. Second, Jeju offers an unspoiled natural environment that other competitive medical destinations do not have. Jeju Island is traditionally well-known as a tourism destination with its beautiful landscape and clean environment. Therefore, medical tourists, and their friends and family members, can enjoy Jeju while they receive medical treatment. Last but not least, Korea offers state-of-the-art technology in medical treatment including surgery, diagnostics and cancers. The high level of Korean hospitals' technology is already well-known among Asian countries.
The name Seogwipo comes from a story about Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China. Qin Shi Huang asked Xu Fu(also called Seobok), his court alchemist, to find a special elixir plant. Xu Fu visited Jeju and found the elixir plant on Mt. Halla. When Xu Fu left Jeju with the plant, he carved "Xu Fu Visited Jeju Island" on a rock. The name Seogwipo was given to the city based on this story. Qin Shi Huang, who was well-known for being ageless, recognized Jeju as the home of special elixir plants. Jeju believes this story will attract more Chinese visitors who are looking for medical treatment.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the number of visitors to Korea for medical treatment has increased significantly. It aims to attract 850,000 overseas patients by 2015. The efforts of Jeju and other cities in Korea are showing signs of success in this area, meaning that Korea has the potential to become a hub for medical tourism.SOURCE: JDC