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The Peninsula

Korean Medical Reform Plan and Doctors’ Strike

Published August 26, 2020
Author: Korea View
Category: South Korea

What Happened

  • The South Korean government’s medical reform plan proposes to raise admission quotas at medical schools by 400 annually from 3,058 to 3,458 for a decade starting 2022.
  • Seoul’s plan addresses data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that South Korea has fewer clinical physicians per capita (2.4 per 1,000) than the member countries’ average (3.5).
  • In response to these proposed measures, the Korean Medical Association (KMA) threatened to go on a 3-day strike.

Implications: The KMA’s work stoppage threat reflects the Korean government’s tendency to pursue metric-driven objectives without fully consulting domestic stakeholders in the policy making process. Medical professionals argue that the government’s proposals drive up competition between doctors without addressing underlying discrepancies that yield variations in health outcomes between regions. While the government has sought to talk with the medical community on these issues, the loss of trust will now be difficult to amend.

Context: In June, the Korean government introduced a mandatory quick response (QR) code system in order to trace and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in high-risk indoor facilities. This new system was introduced with great urgency in response to a new outbreak among club goers in Seoul. However, many public health experts and privacy advocates raised questions around the effectiveness of this new tool. This suggested that the Korean government inadequately explained its rationale for the trade-off between privacy and public health, among other concerns, to key civic organizations.

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Sophie Joo, Sonia Kim, and Chris Lee. Picture from flickr user Republic of Korea

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