Korean J Med Hist.  2020 Dec;29(3):1065-1100. 10.13081/kjmh.2020.29.1065.

The History of Korea-Japan Medical Relations: Through Miki Sakae’s Research and Life

  • 1Assistant Professor, the Center for Asia Diaspora, Konkuk University


This study examines the life and research of Miki Sakae, a historian of Korean medicine, to explore the relationship between the study of medical history in Korea and Japan. Miki’s investigation and research on old medical books conducted in colonial Korea became the starting point and foundation for the study of the history of Korean medicine. However, due to the peculiarity of being ‘a Japanese who studied the history of Korean medicine,’ there was no sufficient research on him.
The gist of his research can be summed up as: ‘You cannot talk about Japanese and Chinese medicine without knowing the medicine in the Korean Peninsula.’ This was a challenge to the Japanese medical history circles that tended to understand and interpret the history of medicine centered on their own country. Miki defines the Korean Peninsula as an important place in East Asian medicine, based on the understanding that medicine does not spread from one center to other places, but moves and mixes with other systems of medicine like water flows and creates new things through it. By paying attention to the medical interrelation between Korea and Japan, which had continued from the ancient times, Miki recognized that the problem of disease is a problem of culture and people. In particular, focusing on infectious diseases in Korea, he attempted to prove the influence and relationship between Korea and Japan.
Since Miki lived in Korea during the Japanese colonial period and was a physician who majored in Western medicine, his study of traditional Korean medicine was rather limited. However, despite the Japanese medical community’s indifference after the defeat in the Second World War, he did his best to introduce the value of traditional Korean medicine to the academic community in Japan and left meaningful data to the future generations. This study focuses on medical studies from the perspective of the history of Korea-Japan relations that Miki pursued, and explores the changes in his attitude toward Korean medicine, the patterns of exchanges that is found in the history of Korean-Japanese medicine he studied, as well as the spread of infectious diseases.


Miki Sakae; History of Korean Medicine; The relationship between Korean and Japanese medicine; The flow of culture and people; Infectious diseases; 미키 사카에; 한국의사학; 한일의학의 관계; 문화와 사람의 흐름; 감염병
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