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The Global Wellness Institute Spotlights South Korea’s $113 Billion Wellness Economy

Therme Group has partnered with GWI to explore the unique wellness landscape of the world’s ninth largest wellness economy on its Geography of Wellness platform

Miami, FL – February 15, 2024 – The Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the leading nonprofit dedicated to research and education in the global wellness industry, today announced the addition of South Korea to its growing Geography of Wellness platform, through a partnership with Therme Group. A global organization committed to fostering inclusive urban wellbeing, Therme recently announced the location for its first Asia Pacific project as part of the Golden Harbor development in South Korea’s Incheon City.

“GWI’s Geography of Wellness platform offers a detailed map of the wellness landscape, delineating the economic contributions of wellness-oriented businesses and activities specific to each nation,” said Susie Ellis, GWI chair and CEO. “South Korea, the world’s ninth largest wellness market, has demonstrated both growth and resilience, scaling from a pre-pandemic $99.6 billion in 2019, to a 5% dip in 2020 ($94.4 billion), to a valuation of $113 billion in 2022.”

South Korea is not only thriving in its overall wellness economy but is also leading the charge in several specific categories, including ranking #6 globally in both physical activity and traditional & complementary medicine. The nation also secures the #8 spot worldwide in public health, prevention & personalized medicine, as well as workplace wellness—despite a slight dip in spending over the previous year in the latter sector— asserting its continued dedication to evolving workplace culture and public health initiatives.

GWI assesses 11 key sectors within the wellness economies of 218 countries worldwide. South Korea has had notable valuation increases in virtually all sectors for 2022 (a new dedicated Global Wellness Economy: South Korea report is available for download.)

South Korea Wellness Sector Annual Growth 2020-2022 with 2022 Valuation

Physical Activity
: +11%, $29.68B

Personal Care & Beauty: +3.5%, $24.87B

Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Weight Loss: -0.5%, $13.49B

Traditional & Complementary Medicine: +2.7%, $13.46B

Public Health, Prevention & Personalized Medicine: +44.6%, $13.40B

Wellness Real Estate: +16.5%, $8.37B

Wellness Tourism: +11.3%, $5.43B

Mental Wellness: +7.2%, valued at $2.86B

Spas: +16.2%, valued at $1.55B

Workplace Wellness: -3.6, $1.15B

Thermal/Mineral Springs: +13.3%, $0.58B


Living Well in South Korea

Wellness in South Korea is a blend of centuries-old traditions and modern science and technology, in an environment rich in natural resources. Korean cuisine—with its vast variety of kimchi (fermented vegetables), banchan (side dishes), fresh seafood and vegan options—has already taken the world by storm. Wellness practices such as sauna and hot springs bathing, meditation, martial arts (taekwondo and taekgyeon), herbal and medicinal teas, acupuncture and moxibustion (a technique of burning herbal moxa cones to warm acupuncture points) are widely adopted for health maintenance and healing. Living well in South Korea today also means adopting modern fitness routines, accessing digital wellness tools, practicing skincare rituals, and accessing diverse cosmetic and beauty options popularly known across the world as K-beauty. 

Key Wellness Experiences in South Korea

With its vast mountain ranges and surrounded by seas on three sides, South Korea offers a phenomenal natural setting for all types of wellness activities and holidays, from hot springs bathing, to hiking, to water sports; from mountain and seaside resorts to meditation retreats and temple stays. One can sample mountain herbs, temple cuisine, and traditional Korean dishes that can help promote blood circulation and warmth in cold weather. Its metropolises offer wellness amenities from spa and beauty to fitness, to traditional and complementary medicine. Visitors may want to try a mindful tea ceremony, or immerse in Korean bathing traditions at natural hot springs as well as communal baths and saunas, a social and family-friendly experience.

Therme Group’s collaboration with GWI is pivotal in showcasing South Korea on the global stage. Stelian Iacob, senior vice president of Therme Group, remarked: “South Korea has rich and varied wellbeing traditions and a high-growth wellness economy. We are committed to enhancing the wellbeing of South Korea’s residents and visitors, and this research provides vital data for the industry. The research shows that people are rediscovering the health benefits of thermal bathing and wellness therapies, and we look forward to working with local partners to bring our unique wellbeing resort experience to the region.”

To learn more about South Korea’s wellness economy, visit its dedicated Geography of Wellness page on the GWI website.


About the Global Wellness Institute

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a nonprofit 501(c)(3), is considered the leading global research and educational resource for the global wellness industry and is known for introducing major industry initiatives and regional events that bring together leaders to chart the future. GWI positively impacts global health and wellness by educating public institutions, businesses and individuals on how they can work to prevent disease, reduce stress and enhance overall quality of life. Its mission is to empower wellness worldwide.


About Therme Group

Therme Group is a global wellbeing leader, driven by an inclusive vision of urban wellbeing. Therme’s landmark projects are a unique immersive environment, based in ancient traditions of thermal bathing combined with modern technology. This unique blended experience includes water-based activities with fitness programming, attractions, wellbeing therapies, art and culture, botanics, food and nutrition. As much as a fun and relaxing experience, Therme’s projects benefit mental and physical health, rejuvenating all who visit, and making a positive economic and social impact for the communities they serve. Environmental consciousness is at the heart of Therme, using sustainable design and technology to create affordable and inclusive environments that welcome many millions of visitors every year. With more than 20 years’ experience, Therme Group and its strategic partners operate four facilities in Europe and have multiple destinations in development worldwide, including the Asia Pacific, North America, the UK and mainland Europe. Therme’s first Asia Pacific project will be in South Korea’s Incheon City as part of its Golden Harbor development.