February 26, 2024

South Korea issues deadline, threatens prosecution for junior doctors amid surgery-stopping strike

Editor's Note

A week after a walkout of junior doctors in South Korea halted about a third of surgeries at large hospitals in Seoul, the government is threatening prosecution and the revocation of medical licenses if the walkout doesn’t end by February 29.

As reported by the Associated Press February 26, the government issued the deadline with reassurance that striking doctors who return to work by the end of the month will face no disciplinary action. Those who do not comply will face a minimum three-month medical license suspension as well as the possibility of investigation and prosecution.  

The medical interns and residents are protesting a government plan to increase the numbers of medical students. Supporters say more doctors are required to address the needs of the country’s aging population. Striking doctors argue the plan would hurt quality of service. 

There are about 13,000 medical interns and residents in South Korea, AP reports, most of them working and training at 100 hospitals. They typically assist senior doctors during surgeries and deal with inpatients. They represent about 30% to 40% of total doctors at some major hospitals.

The government says it aims to add up to 10,000 doctors by 2035.

Live chat by BoldChat