Korea University med professors to launch voluntary indefinite walkout from July 12

July 1, 2024

Medical professors at three Korea University-affiliated hospitals vowed Monday to start an indefinite voluntary walkout later this month, amid a prolonged standoff between doctors and the government over its medical reform plan.

The emergency committee of the professors serving as senior doctors at the university announced the walkout starting July 12, excluding the operation of emergency rooms and intensive care units, calling for the government to “withdraw its pressure on medical students and trainee doctors” and engage in dialogue.

“The medical community sought to launch a dialogue by offering solutions and compromises, but the government has flatly ignored all and abused its administrative orders,” the committee said in a statement.

The announcement came after professors at Severance Hospital, Gangnam Severance Hospital and Yongin Severance Hospital also began suspending the treatment of outpatients, nonemergency surgeries and other services starting Thursday last week.

Senior doctors at Asan Medical Center are anticipated to launch a one-week walkout starting Thursday as well.

Despite strong opposition from doctors, the government finalized an admissions quota hike of some 1,500 students for medical schools in May in an effort to address the shortage of doctors.

Last month, the government asked hospitals to swiftly accept the resignations of trainee doctors who have left their worksites in protest of the government’s medical reform, in an apparent move to appease the junior doctors.

About 12,000 trainee doctors have walked off their jobs since late February to protest against a hike in the number of medical students. In a punitive step, the government ordered hospitals not to accept the resignations of trainee doctors to prevent them from seeking jobs at other clinics.

Last week, a committee formed by the medical community to navigate joint responses to its monthslong standoff with the government over the medical reform plan decided to convene a nationwide debate on July 26 regarding the government’s medical reform.

In this file photo, medical professors at Korea University submit their resignations in Seoul on March 25, 2024. (Yonhap)
In this file photo, medical professors at Korea University submit their resignations in Seoul on March 25, 2024. (Yonhap)