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October 2021

Health Policy. 1998 Jun; 44(3): 261-81.

Modernisation of the system of traditional Korean medicine (1876-1990).

Son AH.

Uppsala University, Sweden. [email protected]

For the past two centuries or so, the emergence and growth of scientific medicine has resulted in the gradual replacement non-scientific medical practitioners with scientific medical practitioners at the field of public health in most Western countries. The key factor behind this transformation has been the official policy that has encouraged practitioners of scientific medicine while at the same time suppressing and ignoring practitioners of non-scientific medicine. The case of the Republic of Korea (henceforth called Korea) reveals, however, a small discrepancy from this general trend, i.e. the coexistence of practitioners of both non-scientific medicine and scientific medicine. This article explores the modernisation of the system of Traditional Korean Medicine from 1876 to 1990 in an attempt to answer why the Korean health care system has a dual system of medical care and argues that the dual system of medical care in Korea was shaped by the conflicts and tensions between herbal doctors and Western trained doctors throughout the various stages of historical development.


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