In a medical emergency, just dial 119. The caller's location is automatically detected. Emergency responses are rapid; ambulances are quickly dispatched to take people to a hospital. When a foreigner makes a 119 call they are directed to a translator from the Korea National Tourist Organisation via a three-way call; this allows a foreigner to clearly communicate their situation and needs. Available languages include English, Japanese and Chinese. Ambulance services are provided free of charge.
There is an emergency medical information centre which is available 24 hours a day by dialling 1339. English-speaking doctors are available to provide medical information in an emergency, as well as advice on finding an open pharmacy (yakguk), some of which are open 24 hours a day, or hospital. To reach this service from a mobile telephone or from outside Seoul, Tel: 02 1339.
The staff at 1339 can also give medical advice over the phone and directly connect you with emergency services when necessary. So if you call and describe your symptoms, 1339 can let you know what kind of treatment you need, and, if it is deemed serious, immediately connect you with emergency services. Like the MRS, 1339 can also help you find clinics and hospitals in your area that can provide the kind of treatment you are looking for.
Note that if you call 119 from a landline and cannot communicate, the emergency services will trace your location. This is not the case, however, if you are calling from a cell phone. Alternatively, if you have a security system installed in your home, you can press the panic button and the security company will help you.
Information can be best obtained from the 121-Hospital Emergency Room on Yongsan Army Base at 7917-5545/6001. This is the best source of English-speaking information about poisoning in Korea. The Seoul Poison Center can be contacted by dialing 129, but you’re not guaranteed to reach an English speaker.