If it's your first time in Korea, don't be surprised if you see a person walking on the street while wearing what looks like hospital pajamas and pulling along an IV-drip stand. No, he or she isn't an escaped patient from an insane asylum. That just means there's a hospital nearby.
Yes, hospital patients in Korea are free to move around the neighborhood as long as they're not spreading any contagion and are ambulant enough after a surgery.
In my Hannam-dong neighborhood in the Yongsan District, there's a big hospital where I rushed to after I accidentally (and stupidly!) sliced open a part of my right hand. And almost every time I pass by the hospital, there will always be a patient in hospital pajamas navigating the sidewalk. The patients are usually just standing on a corner smoking, or on their way to a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a convenience store.
Although they are hospitalized, I sometimes doubt if they are really sick. A few years back, I read in the news that some are just insurance scammers. They check themselves into a hospital, pretending to be sick so they can claim insurance compensation.
So, the next time you see a pajama party in the streets of Seoul, just remember they're having a break from their doctors in a medical center nearby. Although you won't be able to tell what they're in for, don't forget to tell them to get well soon!