Sunday, 3 July 2016

Pajama Party!

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!


  1. I had never heard of patients ambling around the hospital neighborhood and going to coffee shops, etc., especially while pulling an IV-drip stand. I have to ask, do they go to bars too, and have a drink?

    1. I only see them in coffee shops and restaurants. Although some of them may be itching to go to the nearest bar, it may be too late for hospital curfew. Or coming back to the hospital drunk and not finding their way to their hospital bed?