Jen and I were on the train, next to a young lady who dramatically grasped her head and/or covered her mouth for most of the trip. We thought she had motion sickness or maybe a migraine. Whatever it was, she finally decided the pain was too much to bear.
Staff from our tour group showed up en mass with an emergency four-pack of acupuncture needles. They removed her high-heeled shoes — natch — revealing two of the ugliest feet I’ve ever seen. Her left ankle had a swollen lump the size of a tennis ball. (I’m not even joking about her feet. They looked like they’d been run over by an 18-wheeler towing a U-Haul trailer.)
Tearing my eyes away from her wretched pedal extremities, I watched as a young woman hammered each needle in with the precision and confidence of someone who’s had plenty of practice, one in each hand and foot. I should also note that the lady receiving the treatment was relaxed and, dare I say it, eager for acupuncture. Afterward they propped her feet up and let her rest, before coming back and re-sticking the needles in her arms.
Now, I don’t want to minimize or downplay the lady’s pain and I sincerely hope she continues to get treatment — any kind of treatment that works — for whatever was causing. However, as with most things in Korea, I’m now left with an exasperating number of questions:
- Is acupuncture considered legitimate medical science in Korea?
- Is it an officially sanctioned and overseen medical practice?
- If so, are certified first-aid responders required to learn how to use an emergency four-pack of needles?
- What is the training regimen like? Is there a pamphlet or video, as with CPR certification?
- Are migraine headaches and/or swollen ankles generally considered worthy of receiving first-aid treatment in any country?
I hope my tablet’s camera captured the scene effectively. Unfortunately, the crappy resolution doesn’t show the needles, but trust me, they’re there!
Update: Judging by this picture Jen took on the train this morning, the lady may have been in pain all day long.