Korean J Med Hist.  1993 Dec;2(2):126-141.

Medical Education in Pyongang(1890-1945)

  • 1Kee's Dental Clinic, Korea.


As early as the reign of King Taejo, the Chosen Dynasty started medical education in Pyongyang by establishing a medical school under "uikwa" which was an independent governmental organization of the 10 bu. Toward the end of the Dynasty, a local medical organization called "uihakwon", which was independent of the "Hyeminso" and comparatively large as a local medical organization, was established in Pyongyang under the control of "Pusa" and "Chick chang". This educational organization was staffed by one professor and had an enrollment of 16 students. Around 1894, when the Sino-Japanese War broke outs American missionaries, medical and non-medical, chose Pyongyang as the base of their missionary activities and started medical and educational work William James Hall, of the Northern Methodist Church, started medical work sometime later, Rossetta S. Hall, who accompanied her husband to Pyongyang opened a hospital for women. In the meantime, J. Hunter Wells, of the Northern Presbyterian Church, inaugurated the "Chejungwon" and launched medical service in Pyongyang. These medical activities naturally needed trained medical assistants and missionary doctors came to embrace an idea of educating regular medical doctors in Korea where there were no Korean medical doctors. This occasioned Dr. Hall and Dr. Wells to launch medical education. Their medical education which began in 1897-1899 was a pioneer work for Western medical education in Pyongyang. In 1905, Japan established the Japanese "Uisagwan" in Pyongyang and commissioned Nakamura Tomizo in charge of the organization and the medical care of Japanese residents. Nakamura opened a hospital in Pyongyang and while practicing on the one hand, conducted medical education for Korean students. At that time, he was recommended to become a member of the Tonginhae and started the Tongin Uiwon(hospital) and its attached medical school. He recruited students from private schools and provided Western medical education to them. This organization for medical education was the first medical school established by Japanese in Pyongyang. The Tongin Uiwon was sold to the Korean government in 1910 and regionalized under the name of Chahye Uiwon. This medical organization was disbanded in 1911 according to the policy for unified medical education of the Government-General in Korea which began with the annexation. The Pyongang area, due to its peculiar situation(the Japanese authorities regarded this area as one of people with strong anti-Japanese sentiment), lagged behind other areas in the benefit of all cultural facilities including medical organizations. Under the circumstances, in spite of a strong and longstanding insistence that there be established a medical school in Pyongyang the demand had not been met until 1923 when the Pyongyang Medical Training Institute was inaugurated by the Japanese. This institute was later reorganized into the Pyongyang Medical College which was operated entirely by Japanese professors until 1945 when North Korea was occupied by the Soviet Army. As aforementioned, the Pyongyang Medical College was staffed entirely Japanese professors. There were no Korean professor or no department chiefs of "political purpose
". It is presumed that the graduates and under-graduates of the Pyongyang Medical College at that time were the most recalcitrant to the educational policy of Japanization. There were many graduates of this college who sought positions of academic researches elsewhere and made strenuous efforts to excel their Japanese competitors in social and academic aspects. with the results that as many as 24 of them won a degree of doctor of medical science with outstanding academic achievements. Such efforts of them resulted, after the liberation of our country, in the remarkable activities in the medical circle, both domestic and abroad, which were equal to those done by graduates of medical college, with much a longer history.


Pyongyang chejungwon uihakkyo; Pyongyang Tongin uiwon uihakkyo; Pyongyang Provincial Medical Training Institute; Pyongyang Medical College
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