South Korea to arrest striking doctors unless they return

South Korea's government has warned it will arrest striking junior doctors and revoke their licenses if they don't return to work by Thursday.

Publication: 29.02.2024 - 14:01
South Korea to arrest striking doctors unless they return
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The strike, which saw about 75% of junior doctors walking out, protests plans to increase medical student admissions, aiming to address the country's low doctor-to-patient ratio amidst an aging population. The action has led to significant disruptions in major hospitals.

The striking doctors, like 25-year-old Ryu Ok Hada, argue that simply increasing doctor numbers won't solve underlying issues such as excessive work hours and low pay. The strike has halved some hospitals' surgery capacities and led to a tragic incident where an elderly woman died after being turned away by several hospitals, a situation the government claims was not strike-related.

The government's proposal to boost medical student admissions has met strong resistance from doctors, who believe it will lower care quality. With public sympathy dwindling and the government refusing to negotiate, citing a minor boost in presidential approval ratings, the standoff intensifies. Health authorities are threatening legal actions and license suspensions, with nearly 300 of the 9,000 striking doctors having already returned to work. The Korean Medical Association is considering whether to escalate the strike, depending on the government's response.

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