A study of how proprietary medicines during the Japanese colonial period led to transforms in Korean medicine and Korean medicine prescriptions

일제강점기 매약을 통해 본 한약의 제형 변화와 새로운 한약 처방의 경향성에 대한 고찰

  • Hwang, Jihye (Dept. of Korean Medicine, Graduate School, Kyung Hee University)
  • 황지혜 (경희대학교 대학원 한의학과)
  • Received : 2020.05.11
  • Accepted : 2020.05.22
  • Published : 2020.05.31


In this study, we examine the changes to Korean medicine that occurred when 'proprietary medicines' (賣藥) swept through the pharmaceutical market during the Japanese occupation (1910-1945 C.E.). Proprietary medicine during the Japanese colonial period took various forms including ready-made, over-the-counter, patent, and nostrum type pharmaceuticals. This paper examines how Korean medicine, which was the dominant form of medicine during the Joseon Dynasty, was forced to adapt to the rise of proprietary medicines. We found that the prescription of Korean medicine herbal decoctions became more like proprietary medicine in the way that they were formulated. In addition, prescriptions in Korean medicine books were reformulated with prescriptions and medicines from outside the tradition. Proprietary medicines, many of which were made with secret recipes handed down in a family, also attracted attention. Such prescriptions were made famous through advertisements and further influenced future Korean medicine doctors. New prescriptions took advantage of the trust and authority existing in traditional Korean medicine by introducing ginseng and traditional medicinal herbs such as deer antler velvet (鹿茸, Cervi Parvum Cornu). This paper argues that proprietary medicine of the Japanese colonial period distorted the concept of traditional herbal medicine.