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Getting Medical Attention in Korea (& A Movie Review)

Well, where to start?

I have an ear infection, so swimming is out for a couple of weeks. The hospital experience here is a bit unusual. Thankfully I was helped by a friend of mine who is interning at the hospital but it was still a little weird. The doctor looked into one ear, and then the other, and said to himself when inspecting my (troublesome) left ear… “Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho-HO!” It wasn’t all that reassuring. Then he pulled up a standardized presciption listing on his computer and sent it down to the main prescriptions desk of the hospital. I would hesitate to complain about him saying all of three words to me — the hesitation being that, well, unlike my intern friend he didn’t speak much English, and I am a foreigner — but I also saw him handle some Korean patients that way while I was waiting.

Prescription here is handled differently too. You get a week’s meds at most, and you also get them in separated little dosage packets, in a string with each dosage for each time of day separated out for you. Quite convenient compared to the old pills-and-count-it-yourself method of North America, but what a waste of plastic. You also don’t get handwritten prescriptions from doctors, not hospital doctors anyway; you get a printed off sheet in duplicate from a desk elsewhere in the hospital.

Medical coverage here is important, because medicine is pay-as-you-go here. My coverage is half-and-half, so I ended up paying half what most people I know pay when they go to the hospital. That was about 15,000 won, which is roughly $18 CDN. I would hate to go to the doctor as a Korean student; you pay more like $35 CDN each visit, and for any given condition at least two visits are required — the second visit is how you get the rest of your prescription. I’ve also known people whose doctors demanded they visit everyday to get their prescription. Luckily I am a foreigner and I have a friend on the inside, so I actually got a week’s worth of “yak” (medication).

In the wake of this disappointing infection, which is forcing me to take time off from swimming, I have been working on my website pretty ardently, and also have been watching most of the films I manage to download. Most recently, two films were excellent.

The first film is a recent Anthony Hopkins feature entitled Hearts in Atlantis. It’s apparently based on a Stephen King story. Now, not to knock so-called genre fiction — hell, I am a science-fiction guy myself — but despite the supernatural elements in the movie, it’s definitely in the vein of Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption, rather than of Salem’s Lot or It. Here is the movie’s official website. Hearts in Atlantis deals with the issues of childhood, meaning, love, and family perhaps better than most movies I’ve seen in a long time. Almost everyone delivers an excellent performance here, and the story is actually at times quite moving. And, yeah, it has neat psychic stuff too.

The second film I’ve watched recently is Donnie Darko. Here’s that film’s very cool flash website — which is more like a game than a movie promo site, and I think one of the best film homepages I’ve ever seen! Now, this movie is seriously weird. You should see some of the online discussion about it; the film and its website spawned not only its own terminology weird terminology, like the Tangent Universe, the Manipulated Dead and the Manipulated Living, but also very heated discussions about predestination and free will, the importance of science, and what the hell this bewildering and wonderful though extremely dark movie is all about. I know I’ll watch it again, and I highly recommend this excellent but disturbing indie film.

PS: I did a funny test at this site and I was told I am Gretchen from the movie…

Which Donnie Darko character are you? by Shay

Right, that’s it. I am off to do the dishes, work on my novel, and watch another film… uh, I think it’ll be Josie and the Pussycats. And maybe read a bit more of Raymond Carver’s excellent The Big Sleep. More about that next time.

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