How to find 24 hour pharmacies across Korea

Although most pharmacies keep normal business hours in Korea, there are usually many pharmacies in each region or city that will have extended hours, both late into the night and on holidays, sometimes even staying open 24 hours. 

Imagine that your young son is coughing up a storm or has a high fever and can't sleep at night, and you're out of Champ syrup (Korean version of Children's Tylenol). What can you, as a concerned foreign parent do? You could try heading out at midnight in a vain search for a pharmacy that's open. Or, you could search immediately and find exactly one that is open. That's what this post is about. I noticed a search for "late night pharmacies" or etc returns a lot of static posts listing particular pharmacies in particular popular areas, but that info could be out of date or simply insufficient/incomplete. Better to go search a reliable source yourself. 

Pharm114: website for searching extended-hours pharmacies across Korea

The Korea Pharmeceutial Association keeps a pharmacy info website up that has exactly the locations and times you are looking for:

The website is insanely simple to use, even if you only barely read Korean. At the link, you'll see two sections that are what we want. You'll need to choose which you're more interested in, but of course can browse both. 

First just click either the 2nd or 3rd bubbles in the middle section. 
  • The 2nd bubble (연중무휴약국 검색) is for searching pharmacies that are open basically all year round, including on special holidays.
  • The 3rd bubble (심야약국 검색) is for searching late-night or all-night pharmacies. 
  • Then just choose your region and then city from the drop-down menus.

Next, you'll be shown a list of pharmacies that meet your criteria. For example, here's a sample search for Gwangmyeong city, south of Seoul in Gyeonggi-do. 

Here you can see the names and addresses of the various pharmacies that are open on holidays, and in fact the first two results include special notices below the addresses:
  • This pharmacy is open 365 days a year. (365일 연중무휴 운영합니다)
  • This pharmacy is open 24 hours a day. (연중무휴 항상 열려있는 약국입니다)
You can also see the normal operating hours listed there in the time column, so I'm not 100% sure why result #2 is listed as 24 hours according to the special note. Perhaps after those regular hours, the pharmacy is available only to sell OTC medications rather than fill prescriptions? Most that are open until 10pm will include an actual pharmacist who can provide your real doctor-prescribed medications.  

You'll want to stick with the ones listed in the sorting as (연중), all of which will appear sorted at the top of the results. These are the truly year-round pharmacies. Others may close on specific days. or just be normal pharmacies. 

You can also click the magnifying glass to see a pop-up Kakao Map of the location. Here's an example for the first result:

It works the same searching for late-night pharmacies too. Here are the results, again for Gwangmyeong.

Here we see, again, a list of normal operating hours, but with the added special info that these are "공공심야약국 밤10시~새벽1시까지 365일" with special operating hours of 10pm~1am every single day.

And by the way, this website works fine in Google Chrome translator too:

So for your coughing kid at midnight, better hustle over to one of these two locations and grab your kid's cough syrup before 1am. 

Mobile app: Good Doc

The Pharm114 website has no mobile version, so can be difficult to use on a phone. If you're on a mobile device, you might find it easier to use an app called "Good Doc" (굿닥).

Good Doc app on Google Play

This app is nice because it's easy and straightforward even if you don't know much Korean. Just press the map pin icon to get to the map view and scroll over to your area. 

From the toggle switch at top, make sure it's selected on 약국 (pharmacy) rather than hospital. 

Of course you could also search for nearby hospitals this way too - the app allows searching hospitals based on all kinds of criteria, including treatments, hours, etc. But we're just using it for currently-open pharmacies. 

Tap the blue button on the right that reads "실시간" (real-time) to see spots on the map that have currently-open pharmacies. 

Good Doc pharmacy map search. Images: Kidult School

Just tap the pill icons on the map then to get more details about the particular pharmacy. 

In the image below you can see the specific opening hours. Times on the left are normal weekdays, times on the right are weekend and holiday hours. 

Pretty simple.

You can also do a location based search by your city/gu/dong on Good Doc at their website:

Another app that has the same basic functioning is DdocDoc:

Naver Map search

Additionally, though your results may be less accurate or complete, you can also just search your city name plus 심야약국 (late night pharmacy) on Naver Map, which will automatically bring up just those later operating locations and include the closing time right there in the results for a quick glance:

Naver Map search for late night pharmacies in Gwangmyeong

Convenience stores

Finally, if cough syrup or Tylenol or cold medicine is really all you need, remember that most convenience stories, aside from being open 24/7/365 (you know, convenient), also now stock a decent selection of basic OTC medications too. 

Convenience store medicine selections in Korea. Image: andrewemma

I know a lot of expat parents have found themselves in situations like I described. Nothing is scarier than having a sick kid at home and no medicine until the next day. Hopefully this knowledge can help you, and your kid, rest easier.