Korean J Med Hist.  2019 Aug;28(2):427-468. 10.13081/kjmh.2019.28.427.

Traditional Medicine Doctor Kim Gwangjin's Battle against Jaundice during the Japanese Colonial Period

  • 1College of Korean Medicine, Daejeon University / Institute of Medical Humanities, Inje University, Korea. dhworms@gmail.com


This study aims to examine how traditional medicine doctors (醫生) of the Japanese colonial period in Korea treated patients and their own diseases with traditional medicine (漢方) and Western medicine (洋方) by analyzing Clinical Cases (治案) and A Diary of Jaundice Treatment (治疸日記) of Kim Gwangjin (金光鎭, 1885–1940). Through this inquiry, this study aims to reveal that the Japanese colonial period was a time when the traditional medicine and the Western medicine coexisted, and that this period cannot be simply defined as a dualism between “Western medicine, Japanese colonial government” versus “traditional medicine, governed public.” Kim Gwangjin's main method of medical treatment was traditional medicine. Clinical Cases include over 60 treatment cases, and they illustrate that he was a typical doctor at the time using traditional medical knowledge. In addition, Kim wrote A Diary of Jaundice Treatment from January 1939 to July 1940, a month before his death. The disease that led to his death was jaundice. He examined the changes in his abdomen every day, and recorded the changes in edema in upper extremities and testicles, urine and feces. While the treatment that Kim used in the early stages of jaundice were herbal medicines, he was not confined to the boundaries of the traditional medicine as he studied Western medicine to obtain a license of traditional medicine doctor from Japanese colonial government. He took a urine test to confirm whether his illness was jaundice or kidney disease and had X-ray imaging to check for pleurisy at a Western medical hospital in Daegu. Furthermore, he received a procedure to artificially drain bile, took a medicine to excrete bile into the feces, and had injection to treat neuralgia. Mostly, it was diarrhea that bothered Kim, who had been suffering from jaundice. Preventing diarrhea led to edema, and removing edema led to diarrhea again. He managed his symptoms by stopping the herbal medicine treatments and going on a raw food diet. Around this time, Kim relied the most on Ejisan (エヂ散). Ejisan was a type of new medicine mixed with traditional medicine and Western medicine that had the effect of treating edema and digestive disorders. Kim personally manufactured and took the drug until a month before his death, praising it as a necessary drug to treat jaundice. Kim was a traditional medical doctor during the Japanese colonial period. He also had the conventional wisdom that Western medicine was excellent in treating surgical diseases but not effective in internal medicine. However, he used both traditional medicine and Western medicine to treat symptoms of jaundice that have not been treated well and created a new medicine called Ejisan, which combined the two types of medicines. For him, Western medicine was a new medicine that improved the wrong aspects of traditional medicine or the old medicine, but there was still a realm of traditional medicine that Western medicine could not intervene. Furthermore, he published a new theory of traditional medicine called the Principle of Up and Down (升降論), which incorporates some Western medical knowledge. The Japanese colonial government required traditional medicine doctors to study Western medicine, and traditional medicine doctors had to learn Western medicine in order to survive. In the meantime, traditional medicine doctors such as Kim have brought about new changes by integrating the two medical treatments in the clinical field. The Japanese colonial government planned the demise of traditional medicine by forcing traditional medicine doctors to study the Western medicine, but the unexpected achievement brought about by traditional medicine doctors, who survived longer than the Japanese Empire and the colonial government, was an attempt to integrate Eastern and Western medicine.


Kim Gwangjin (金光鎭); Japanese colonial period; traditional medicine (漢方); traditional medicine doctor (醫生); integration of Eastern and Western medicine
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