History and Future of the Korean Medical Education System

우리나라 의사양성체제의 역사와 미래

  • Ahn, Duck-Sun (Department of Medical Humanities, Korea University College of Medicine) ;
  • Han, Hee-Jin (Department of Medical Humanities, Korea University College of Medicine)
  • 안덕선 (고려대학교 의과대학 의인문학교실) ;
  • 한희진 (고려대학교 의과대학 의인문학교실)
  • Received : 2018.06.22
  • Accepted : 2018.06.26
  • Published : 2018.06.30


Western medicine was first introduced to Korea by Christian missionaries and then by the Japanese in the late 19th century without its historical, philosophical, cultural, social, political, and economic values being communicated. Specifically, during the Japanese colonial era, only ideologically 'degenerated' medicine was taught to Koreans and the main orthodox stream of medicine was inaccessible. Hence, Korean medical education not only focuses on basic and clinical medicine, but also inherited hierarchical discrimination and structural violence. After Korea's liberation from Japan and the Korean war, the Korean medical education system was predominantly influenced by Americans and the Western medical education system was adopted by Korea beginning in the 1980s. During this time, ethical problems arose in Korean medical society and highlighted a need for medical humanities education to address them. For Korean medical students who are notably lacking humanistic and social culture, medical humanities education should be emphasized in the curriculum. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, human physicians may only be distinguishable from robot physicians by ethical consciousness; consequentially, the Korean government should invest more of its public funds to develop and establish a medical humanities program in medical colleges. Such an improved medical education system in Korea is expected to foster talented physicians who are also respectable people.


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