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Quality post-natal care facility in Korea

Posted January. 15, 2013 01:20,   


Childbirth has been cause for celebration for a family since ancient times. When a daughter-in-law gave birth, she rested and received highly considerate care by her relatives. Because women who do not get proper care after giving birth could suffer from diseases such as post-childbirth syndrome or arthritis, post-natal women traditionally were not allowed to go outdoors or do difficult chores. The mother and her newborn baby were sent to her parents’ home, ate nutritional food, and took a long rest.

These days, "sanhujoriwon," or a post-natal care facility, is taking charge of what a family would do in the past. This facility is unique to Korea and cannot be found elsewhere. Sanhujoriwon emerged as a professional services facility due to the declining number of people who can afford to provide post-natal care as result of the expansion of nuclear families. First emerging around the time of the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the facility now numbers 510 nationwide. About 150,000, or 32 percent of women who give birth each year, use such a facility. Dozens of mothers and newborns stay together in such facilities and more than half of the places operate as non-medical institutions, leading to occasional problems with hygienic management. To prevent mass infection among babies at sanhujoriwons, the government recently beefed up disease surveillance of workers there and instituted a standard terms of use. The government has been pressuring them to cut prices by publicizing their user fee between 1 million (950 dollars) and 2 million won (1900 dollars) for a two-week stay.

News reports say Japanese actress Koyuki Matsuyama, 37, gave birth in Korea accompanied by her actor-husband Kenichi Matsuyama, 28, in a sanhujoriwon. Matsuyama gained famed by playing the main character in the Japanese version of the drama “You Are Pet.” Her husband is widely known for his role in the movie “Death Note.” After giving birth to a boy in Japan early last year, Koyuki visited a sanhujoriwon in Korea as a TV hostess, and said she was deeply impressed after receiving post-natal services such as constitutional correction and massages. So she visited Korea for the birth of her second baby, a girl. She did so at a sanhujoriwon housed in the same building as a gynecological clinic in Seoul, which is widely used by Korean celebrities.

The cost of using an upscale sanhujoriwon is 5 million (4,730 U.S. dollars) to 10 million won (9,460 dollars) for a two-week stay, but the facility is so popular that a reservation might not be possible if not made six to seven months prior to childbirth. At the facility, a woman can get a penthouse room with view of a park, and gourmet food is served in a hotel-like interior. Because a high-end sanhujoriwon offers childrearing and yoga training for mothers, many foreigners also use them. Japanese media reported that pregnant women are hospitalized five to seven days when giving birth at a hospital in Japan, but since a sanhujoriwon in Korea provides intensive and around-the-clock service for two weeks, more Japanese women are going to Korea to give birth. When the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency did a study on Korean products Japan would like to import among Japanese consumers, cafes in Seoul`s ritzy Cheongdam-dong neighborhood and sanhujoriwons were the most popular. The sanhujoriwon could help accelerate medical tourism in Korea.

Editorial Writer Shin Yeon-soo (ysshin@donga.com)