Korean J Med Hist.  2018 Dec;27(3):357-396. 10.13081/kjmh.2018.27.357.

The Penetration of ‘Sanitary Discipline’ in Colonial Local Society: Hygiene and Medical Care Problem in the Honam Plain in Korea

  • 1Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tokyo, Japan.
  • 2Academy of East Asian Studies, Sungkyunkwan University, Korea. june0504@skku.edu


This paper intends to examine the realities of modern hygiene and medical institutions making their appearance in the rural Honam Plain (often called the "rice basket") of colonial Korea in terms of organizing local units and spreading colonial "˜sanitary discipline' throughout the region. In the Honam area, modern medical staff and facilities tended to concentrate on the cities in plain region (Kunsan, Jeonju, and Iri), while in the counties in mountainous region they were placed in the township where head office of each county was located. The case of Iksan County in plain region represented this pattern, which was closely associated with the behavior pattern of local Japanese immigrants as well as population growth (i.e., urbanization). The colonial city of Iri in Iksan County with burgeoning population of Japanese immigrants witnessed an early case of hygiene association right after Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910. The Iri hygiene association was a product of organizational restructuring of the preannexation Japanese resident association into the school association after the annexation, under which it was subordinated. It stands as an interesting contrast to the Jeonju hygiene association organized "˜autonomously' under the official (police) auspices in the mid-1930s, which did not undergo the stage of school association. Yet, both cases represented the urban "˜autonomous' (civil) organizations' effort to transplant colonial "˜sanitary discipline' into the colonial local societies without recourse to the hygiene police apparatus. On the other hand, the sanitary project in rural areas was carried out on the basis of model hygiene village, with the identical purpose of raising awareness of hygiene and prohibiting epidemics just as the hygiene association in cities. However, considering the low level of epidemic inspection of Korean patients, the effect of the Japanese colonial sanitary project in Korean local societies was disappointing. There was an ever-widening gap in the colonial hygiene and medical services between Koreans and their colonizers as well as between urban and rural areas.


opulation growth; local society; sanitary facilities; hygiene association; model hygiene village

MeSH Terms

Asian Continental Ancestry Group
Emigrants and Immigrants
Medical Staff
Population Growth
Full Text Links
  • KJMH
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2024 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr