In response to striking doctors, South Korea starts the process of suspending licenses

As part of its efforts to penalize medical professionals who have left hospitals in protest of training reforms, South Korea announced on Tuesday, March 5, that it would begin informing striking resident physicians that their licenses would be suspended. In protest against an increase in medical school admissions starting next year—which the government claims is intended to assist address shortages and fulfill the demands of an aging society—thousands of junior doctors handed in their notice and ceased working two weeks ago.

 

The government gave the striking trainees until February 29 to report back to work or face legal repercussions, which might include arrest or suspension of their medical licenses. However, they have disregarded this ultimatum. According to Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo, at a press briefing, the government has identified some 7,800 junior doctors who disobeyed the back-to-work directive. Officials will notify these doctors of their impending license suspensions beginning on Tuesday. Park stated, referring to the suspension of the license, “We will send out advance notice of administrative measure starting today as soon as their violations of the back-to-work orders are confirmed.”

 

Government data indicates that striking junior physicians have not returned to work on a considerable scale despite being warned about suspension. Nearly 9,000 trainee doctors were still on walkouts as of Monday, according to Park, a number that hasn’t altered much in the previous two weeks. “The government will respond in accordance with laws and principles to keep acts of threatening people’s lives and health from occurring again,” Park stated.

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