in Life

Dentists in South Korea

According to Wikipedia, a dental cavity “is a disease wherein bacterial processes damage hard tooth structure”.  Just call it what it is, a pain in the ass, and I was stuck with one — and the one place besides jail I really wanted to avoid visiting in Korea was the Dentist. In retrospect, four cups a day of vending-machine caffeine was probably a bad idea. So rather than continue chewing with just the right side of my mouth, I walked into the silent office above a PC lounge with no waiting room. “Korean speak”? the receptionist asked as she handed me some paperwork. Here we go again. Whatever the form was, it was in Korean, so I just wrote my name on the first line. She got the hint, and fetched the doctor, who thankfully spoke English.

“I have a cavity. Please help”.

“Do you have public insurance?” he asked.

“Probably not, but I have money”.

“Follow me,” he waved.

Not two minutes later, I was in the dreadful chair while the doctor charged up a needle of Novocain, and the nurse decided what drill bit to use. Seems like it should have been the other way around. The light went on as the chair leaned back, and it was all over in 15 minutes. Then came the fun part, paying. “Ee ship man wan,” the receptionist said. With both hands, I held out a pile of cash. Please don’t screw me over… Please don’t screw me over… The doctor waved with his hands and shook his head with displeasure.

“You are an English Teacher?”

“Yep, at <insert school name here>”.

“My son is <insert Korean name here>, he goes to that school”.

“Really? That is one of my students. What a small world”.

“Just give me 10,000 Won,” he said smiling.

No appointments, no paperwork, no waiting room, and quality service at an 80% discount. What sort of operation are these dentists running over here?

Relieved that the dentist did not give me (or my wallet) a root canal, we went out with a Korean friend to a “traditional restaurant”.