Medicine is a little bit hard when you’re living abroad~ especially when you’re unfamiliar or not fluent in the language… I have taken TONS of medicines in my 2+ years here, and wanted to share what I have found useful~~ If you have specific questions, or things you’d like to add~ please leave a comment ^.^
Where to go~
약국 Pharmacy /yahk-gook
Have you seen big signs that say “약” on them? 약 /Yak means medicine, and these places are pharmacies~ Be advised! They usually close around 8 or 9pm and they are usually closed on Sundays, as well.
병원 Hospital/ Byuhng-wuhn
치과 Dentist/ Chee-gwah
이비인후과 ENT (Ear, nose, and throat)/ Ee-bee-ihn-who-gwah
내과 /Internal Medicine Specialist/ Enterologist/ Gastroenterologist/ Nae-gwah
외과 /Surgeon /Wae-gwah
산부인과 /Gynecologist /Sahn-boo-ihn-gwah
(If you see something with “과” at the end of it… it’s some kind of hospital or specialist ^.^)
A hospital visit will run you less than ₩20,000, and sometimes much less~ Also, don’t be afraid to go to a specialist. With the national health care plan, they should be about the same price as a hospital (or a lot less) but will be a lot more direct and prepared for what you have than the generalized hospital will be ^.^
At the pharmacy~
tylenol/aspirin: “(바이엘) “아스피린” (bye-air) ah-seu-pee-reen”
If you have a headache, which you will one day, you’ll be begging for an aspirin~ If you’re lucky, your school will have some on hand~ if not, please go buy some! Just ask for “ae-su-pee-rin” aka, konglish aspirin ^.^ It comes in a green and white box and is made by Bayer (as are most Western medicines). Also, the word for headache is 머리 아프다 (muh-ree ah-poo-dah)
birth control :마이브라 / 머시론 (my-beu-lah) (muh-shee-rohn)
Lots of girls take birth control for many reasons, including health and such~ however, do not expect to buy this medicine without judgement. It is available at pharmacies (no prescription necessary!) but I was advised to purchase this far from my hagwon/school. This is because you never know who is a parent at your school, and you don’t want them to get the wrong idea about you or make a problem for you. The most common are Mercilon (머시론)and Myvlar (마이브라). They are both 28 pills packs and include NO PLACEBOS. They do have the days of the week written on them (in Korean).
medicine for times of sickness
diarrhea: 로페리드 (roh-pay-reed)
If you have upset stomach (which you probably will when you’re getting adjusted to a new and hectic schedule and new and spicy/greasy foods), this is the medicine I recommend the most! It is a yellow and white pill and you take two by mouth. It might take a couple of doses for full effect. You can eat it anytime, but before meals is best. If they don’t have it, the word for diarrhea is 설사 (seol-sah), and the word for stomachache is 배 아프다 (bae ah-poo-dah).
head cold?: 코싹 (ko-ssahk)
Head colds are a common thing in Korea, especially for teachers, since kids don’t usually cover their mouths when sneezing and coughing… Be prepared. You might want to bring some medicine from home, because even the medicine at the doctor’s office will be pretty weak in comparison to the Western medicines you’re used to. I’ve gone through TONS of cold medicines, but I think this is the best. If you have a cold, here are some words to know: 감기 (gahm–gi/ cold), 기침 (gee-chim/ cough) 코물 (koh-mool/ runny nose/ phlegm), 목 아프다/ 목 쓰림 (mohk ah-poo-dah/ mok sseu-reem)
“한약 괜찮아요?” “Is Oriental Medicine okay?” “Han-yahk kwaen-chahn-ah-yo?”
Han-yahk (한약) is “Korean medicine” or “Oriental medicine”… It’s usually a packet of brown liquid (ginseng/ 인삼/ ihn-sahm) and tastes really earthy… People also drink this for stamina, energy and overall health. You might also get some brown pellets. These can be chewed or added to water (though they won’t really dissolve). I haven’t had much luck with Oriental medicine, personally… but if you aren’t too sick, why not give it a chance? I live in Daegu and it is known for Oriental medicine, so pharmacists here push it on you a lot, lol! Don’t be afraid to say “양약 주세요” (yang yahk joo-say-yo) “Western medicine, please” ^.^
감기에 조심하세요~! Be careful not to catch a cold~!