Credit card spending by foreigners in South Korea on medical care surged by more than 38 percent last year.
The combined amount of foreigners’ credit card spending in South Korea came to 9.40 trillion won (US$8.21 billion) in 2018, up 12.6 percent from 8.40 trillion won (US$7.34 billion) a year earlier, according to data released by the Korea Culture & Tourism Institute and Shinhan Card Co. on April 8.
By sector, credit card spending in the medical sector amounted to 520.60 billion won (US$454.67 million) last year, showing a 38.2 percent growth from a year earlier. The growth rate is more than three times higher than that of foreigners’ total credit card spending in South Korea.
In particular, spending at private medical facilities jumped by 67.6 percent. Spending on the medical sector by China and Japan, which show a high proportion of spending at private medical facilities, grew by 68 percent and 56 percent, respectively, while that by Russia and Kazakhstan, which prefer general hospitals, rose by 11 percent and 12 percent.
Spending on the medical care sector in Seoul and satellite regions of Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province accounted for 92 percent of the total. The figure was higher than 85 percent of the average spending on all industries in capital areas. Notably, spending on the medical care sector in Seoul increased by 46 percent last year, showing a strong preference for the metropolitan area.
Meanwhile, China ranked first, taking up 36 percent of the total credit card spending by foreigners. The amount of credit card spending by Chinese nationals is still half of that in 2016 due to the aftermath of Seoul’s deployment of U.S. THAAD missile defense system.However, the total amount of foreigners’ spending showed an upturn, driven by more spending by other major countries, such as Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom and the United States.