The deal to end strike over medical reform plans went unheard as some doctor trainees rejected it for being a “hasty agreement.”
South Korean doctors face a rift in the medical community after trainee doctors turned down the national government’s deal to end the two-week-old strike over medical reform plans. President Moon Jae-in, however, hopes the agreement to materialize as a solution to help the country mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
South Korean doctors, trainees reject end of strike deal
On Friday, September 4, the South Korean government struck a deal with the Korean Medical Association (KMA) to end the medical community’s protest over reform measures—a plan which the government said could help manage future health crises better.
Yet it appears that the community was not informed concerning the matter as many South Korean doctors voiced their rejections over the said pact.
A senior official from KMA named Lim Hyun-taek, for instance, had filed a non-confidence motion against Choi Dae-zip, per Reuters. It is said that Choi—the medical body’s president who also signed the agreement—strike a deal without proper and sufficient consultation with its members.
The head of the Korean Intern Resident Association Park Ji-hyun also opposed the deal citing they were “not informed of the agreement at all” and that the deal failed to meet the members’ demands.
In a separate statement, a group of South Korean doctors connected to the KMA had also called for Choi’s resignation over the pact.
Choi, in his defense, explained that the decision was not unilateral and that strike alone cannot solve the medical community’s current problems. “Our shared goals of improving work conditions and building a reasonable medical system cannot be achieved by a strike alone,” the KMA president said.
Moon hopes for unity
Following the deal, President Moon Jae-in hopes it could lead the community to join forces with the government in mitigating the spread of coronavirus.
In a report posted by Yonhap News, the South Korean president has expressed gratitude towards the country’s medical professionals. He said the country “has been able to be successful so far in anti-virus efforts, protecting the lives and health of the people” because of them.
The government, as well as the ruling Democratic Party, also said that its decision to halt its reform plans is a way to prioritize the most pressing matter now, which is its coronavirus response.
Still, they agreed to have the matter discussed with South Korean doctors once the outbreak has “stabilized” and that that it will be “from square one.”
“I expect that (the government and the medical community) will have dialogue in a candid manner, cooperating with the National Assembly, and pool wisdom,” Moon said.