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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Neighborhood medicine man

Korea makes people sick.

It might be the pollution, or different strains of the cold virus, or an unhealthy diet but for whatever reason, it seems that all English teachers here are sick a majority of the time. Sinus infection, cold, flu, chronic stomach issues -- it's not fun.

I've been sick for about three weeks total of the two months I've been in Seoul -- a terrible cold in October and a slightly less miserable sinus infection now. Whereas at home a cold or sinus infection would have been treated by popping some Tylenol, drinking tea and wearing sweats, there's no need to suffer in Korea.

We have a neighborhood medicine man.

Okay, "medicine man" isn't exactly his official title but he's also not the pharmacist. He also doesn't speak English, but that doesn't stop him from doling out meds galore.

It's all a giant game of charades here. Cough *cough cough*, congested nose and headache *point to nose and forehead*, sore throat *yep, you guessed it, point to throat*. He rummages through brown cardboard boxes of drugs and pulls out what he thinks is appropriate.

For my latest illness, he gave me some pink pills and a grainy powder meant to be taken straight -- it's literally the worst-tasting thing I've ever encountered, though, so I'm sticking to the pills. And, of course, he threw in the requisite bottle of unidentifiable warm liquid "for power" that even my Korean coworkers can't explain except that it's meant to give extra "power." Hmm...

Whatever he gave out, it seems to be working. And all for the low, low cost of 4,000 won (about $2.70).

Korean healthcare for the win.


  1. Haha wow I don't think I've ever paid $2.70 for any over the counter med. ever in my life...let alone a prescription!

    Hope you're feeling better soon!

  2. Uhhh.... do you want me to ship you something? Or just pray for your life? Fix yourself a hot toddy too :)