South Korea’s Healthcare Crisis: 30,000 Doctors and Families Protest, Patients Turn to Military Hospitals

As 30,000 doctors staged protests, many patients in South Korea found themselves seeking emergency treatment at military hospitals.

On March 3rd, crowds gathered in Seoul’s Yeouido area to voice their opposition to the government’s plan to increase medical school admissions quotas in 2025.

Organized by the Korean Medical Association (KMA), a lobbying group representing 140,000 doctors, the protest brought together around 30,000 individuals, including doctors from various regions like Daegu, Busan, Jeju Island, as well as numerous medical students and their families.

Despite government warnings of legal action against doctors failing to return to work by February 29th, the protesting crowd remained steadfast in their opposition to the government’s plan.

Cho Ji-ho, a member of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, stated, “Protests within legal bounds will be permitted, but any illegal activities will be dealt with firmly. Additionally, we will take strict legal action regarding allegations of coercing participation in protests.”

Amidst the ongoing strike involving nearly 10,000 resident doctors, hospitals across South Korea continue to grapple with the crisis of overloaded emergency and outpatient care.

In a bid to alleviate pressure on general hospitals, military hospitals in the country opted to fully open their emergency rooms on February 20th, ready to accommodate people for examination and treatment.


The South Korean Ministry of Defense reported that since the strike began, over 100 civilian patients have sought assistance from military hospital emergency rooms. 

As of 6 a.m. KST on March 4th, a total of 123 civilians had visited 12 military hospitals nationwide, including the Armed Forces Capital Hospital in Seongnam, just south of Seoul. Some patients were transferred to the Armed Forces Capital Hospital after being turned away for surgery by other general hospitals due to a shortage of medical staff.

Source: K14

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