Seeking affective health care: Korean immigrants’ use of homeland medical services

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This paper explores the phenomenon of migrants returning to their country of origin for health care. Specifically, it examines the case of Korean immigrants to New Zealand making trips to their homeland to obtain medical operations. We situate our inquiry at the intersection of literatures on home, therapeutic spaces and health care consumption. Using semi-structured in-depth interviews we focus on the question of why and how first-generation Koreans in Auckland, New Zealand, seek medical services in their country of birth. Narratives suggest that the immigrants’ decisions are shaped by interactions between agency (self) and structure (society) that occur across transnational social fields. Strong preferences for decisive and comprehensive treatment in culturally comfortable settings are revealed. The study highlights a particular link between health and place: that if financially able, immigrant patients will seek not only effective, but also affective medical care.

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