Korean J Med Hist.  2019 Dec;28(3):685-720. 10.13081/kjmh.2019.28.685.

A Study on the Name of “Po Goo Nyo Goan” and Its Marking

  • 1Research Assistant, Medical Education, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Korea.
  • 2Lecturer, General Education Institute, Sun Moon University, Korea.
  • 3Professor, Department of Medical Education, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Korea. kivo@ewha.ac.kr


This study aims to correct the Chinese characters of 普救女館 (Po Goo Nyo Goan) and its Korean pronunciation by re-examining the circumstances around the establishment of this hospital, and to discover its naming principle which is associated with the Confucian political philosophy of the Joseon Dynasty. Although 普救女館 is the first modern women's hospital in Korea, most historical studies of this institute have been conducted on limited documents and records. Many published studies use the incorrect names in many ways, so the correct name of the hospital is still in confusion.普救女館, however, was named with four or five of the Chinese characters given by the Joseon government (King Gojong (高宗)) at the time of its establishment. The Joseon government gave the name of Seonnyeoboguwon (善女普救院) to the first modern women's hospital established by Mary Scranton, the name of which was changed to 普救女館. Some records left by the female missionary doctors who worked in 普救女館 show the romanization and meaning of the name of the hospital. The romanization of 普救女館 clarified the Korean pronunciation of "女 (nyeo)" at that time. English translation name of the hospital has always shown that the place provided "extensive" medical treatment to women. It proves the fact that the first Chinese character of the name is "普", not "保" which is expressed in many documents today. The hospital was named according to Confucian ideals just like the other modern hospitals established around the same time, such as Jejungwon (濟衆院), Gwangjewon (廣濟院), Gwanghyeyeowon (廣惠女院). The Joseon government commonly used similar Chinese characters during the naming of these hospitals, characters that imply the ideal of the good Confucian king's favor for many people of Joseon. 普救女館 was unique in having the character "館(gwan)" in its name, not "院(won)" as in other hospitals. It seems to stem from the characteristic of "women's hospital." Po Gu Nyo Goan, the unprecedented women's hospital, was probably imagined as a hospitable accommodation where women provided kindness to people in need. This may have been the reason why "館", which has the meaning of accommodation, was chosen instead of "院" that primarily meant medical facilities. Correcting the name of 普救女館 helps to eliminate the confusion in current historiography and to promote the understanding of the historical significance of this hospital.


Po Goo Nyo Goan (普救女館); Seonnyeoboguwon (善女普救院); Jejungwon (濟衆院); Gwangjewon (廣濟院); Gwanghyeyeowon (廣惠女院); Women's Hospital; Modern Hospital; W.F.M.S.; Name; Marking

MeSH Terms

Asian Continental Ancestry Group
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