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The integration of Korean medicine in South Korea
  1. Taehyung Lee1,2
  1. 1Department of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  1. Correspondence to Dr Taehyung Lee, Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, 26 Kyungheedae-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea; stephan3203{at}gmail.com

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Korean medicine (KM) currently has a prominent place in the healthcare system of South Korea. Through the Medical Service Act (1951), KM constituted one part of the dual but separated medical system together with Western medicine (WM), and the independent 6-year KM college education and 4-year intern/resident KM hospital training programme was established, corresponding to that of WM.

Unlike Chinese medical policy, which pursued the integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and WM from 1949, the South Korean medical policy did not aim for the integration between KM and WM in 1951.1 Rather, the Medical Service Act defined the boundaries of WM and KM in an exclusive way, and physicians in each sector have been allowed to practise only within their licensed medical categories based on the parallel educational system.

Becoming a part of the national healthcare system stimulated the modernisation of KM, which included institutionalisation, standardisation and scientification. After the dual medical system was set up, 12 colleges of KM and 26 university-affiliated KM hospitals were established and, in 1994, the Korean Institute of Oriental Medicine—the first government-funded KM research institute—was established.2 To be adapted to the national healthcare system, KM treatments have been standardised and researched with scientific methodologies in KM institutions. The inclusion of KM treatments into the national …

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