When you get sick in Korea, with anything, the doctor writes you a prescription. Not that that’s unlike the west, of course. The drug companies worldwide make sure that the medicowhores push chemicals on their patients relentlessly. But in Korea, this is actually a new feature of the medical landscape – until recently you were able to just walk into a pharmacy and say “I’ve got this pain right here,” and the pharmacist would load you up with armloads of drugs.
The law was changed a few years ago, and the pharmacists kicked up a big stink. To no avail, happily.
But no matter the illness with which you have been diagnosed, you always get the same number of pills. Five. Regardless of whether you have cancer or a common cold, ulcers or an ear infection, you come away from the pharmacist with a string of little sealed wax paper packets, in each of which is 5 pills, of various colours and sizes. Without fail. I’ve never actually checked to see if these variety packs of pills change depending on the illness with which you are currently stricken, but I am curious as to what they might be.


Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. I’m sorry to hear that your ear infection is still with you. C’mon stav, you can lick this problem!

  2. Still the ear? Damn. And those are painful.
    The pills, though. spooky.

  3. If they always give you five pills, at least three or four of them probably do nothing at all (added at the behest of the national association of homoeopathists) or are simple vitamins (added at the behest of the national council of vitamin manufacturers). There is great money in keeping patients ignorant of their treatments.

  4. I assumed this. I actually thought they might be sugar pills or some other pointless placebo.
    The bit that I didn’t add to the post, as I was on my way out the door, was that I find it to be one of the myriad hints and insights into the Korean character I am afforded, this pill-packeting.
    Where I am deeply curious about all the possible effects, side and otherwise, of any drug I might be prescribed in Canada, and demand a long, detailed tract about it in the box, with detailed instructions on its use and potential for abuse (that part is mostly just a personal quirk), here, the patient is satisfied that all is being pharmacologically taken care of as long as there are a bunch of pills.
    Doctors are not questioned, never, as that would be rude, and somehow these two facts end up colliding and resulting in the ubiquitous multi-pill packets I described.
    I find it faskinatin’, but I’ll forgive you all if you don’t…

  5. Hee hee. I would LOVE to know what’s in those surprise packets. Way back when, when I was in Korea, my mother theorized that my sister and I were suffering from heat exhaustion, so she took us to the pharmacy where we described some of our symptoms. The guy quietly padded behind a shelf and came back with packets that look exactly like the one pictured. They each had several pills like the ones in the picture, but my packet also had stuff that looked EXACTLY like cake sprinkles. There was a small handful of these along with various sized pills and at the time, I ingested all of them without a second thought. Now I’m dying to know what exactly was in there and what each pill was supposed to do.

Comments are closed.