Korean J Med Hist.  1999 Jul;8(1):1-14.

The History of Korean Traditional Medicine


Records of ethnic medicine in the Kokuryo, Baekjae and Shilla dynasties can be found in foreign literature, and evidence that a medicine unique to Korean was being developed in the Koryo dynasty can be found in Korean historical records. With the founding of Chosun, Hyang-yak medicine was established, and a medicine purely and uniquely Korean took root. The Chosun dynasty saw the development of a new form of medicine called Dong-Ui medicine, and an independent system emphasizing practicality was established as the new tradition of Korean medicine. Korean medicine continued in the Chosun dynasty without significant changes from the Koryo dynasty. However, tides of enlightenment brought Western medicine onto the shores of the Korean peninsula. Western medicine began to gain the recognition and trust of part of the royal court. Nonetheless, ordinary people still preferred Dong-Ui, Korean medicine, and they did not have a full understanding of Western medicine. As Chosun began to adopt enlightenment policies in the footsteps of Japan through the Kabo (1894) Revolution, Japan drove the Ching rulers out of the Korean peninsula and openly started interfering in Chosun's internal affairs. After repelling Russia, Japan's intervention in the Korean peninsula became even more aggressive, taking over Chosun's politics, diplomacy and military. Its encroachment on Chosun's sovereignty was at times even more cruel than during Japan's Meiji period.


Hyang-Yak medicine; Dong-Ui medicine; Oriental medicine; Ui-Saeng; Korean Traditional Medicine

MeSH Terms

English Abstract
History of Medicine, Ancient
History of Medicine, Medieval
History of Medicine, Modern
Medicine, Traditional/*history
Political Systems/*history
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