Korean J Med Hist.  1999 Dec;8(2):147-156.

One Hundred Years History of Surgery in Korea

  • 1Department of Rehabilitation, College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Korea.
  • 2Department of Biochemistry, Wonju College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Korea.


Introduction of western surgery into Korea is closely related to the introduction of western medicine itself into Korea. In December 4th, 1884 Allen, who came to Korea as a Missionary Doctor of North Presbyterian Church of America, had a chance to treat a patient with severe stab wounds. The patient was a nephew of Queen Myungsung. The paitent, Min Young Ik was recovered completely. These happenings led to the establishment of 'Kwangheywon (renamed to Jejoongwon 2 weeks later)', the first westernized hospital in Korea. With the great financial aids from Severance family, Jejoongwon developed into Severance Hospital and Medical School in 1904, and greatly contributed to education of Surgery for Korean medical students. Meanwhile Korean Government established the Medical School and Hospital to train Korean Doctors in 1899. But the original intentions became to be impaired by occupation of Korea by Japan in 1910. As a colony, many Japanese Surgeons came to Korea as a professors of Kyungsung Medical College, and gave only few chances for Koreans to became a professor. On the contrary, several surgeons became professors in the private, missionary 'Severance Union Medical College'. After liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945, American medical system was introduced into Korea, and many surgeons had a chance to be trained in America. There were great advancements in the field of surgery, especially of neurosurgery, during a tragic Korean War. With the restoration of economy after 1960s, surgery in Korea continued to develop toward an independent and consolidated fields of medicine.

MeSH Terms

English Abstract
History of Medicine, 19th Cent.
History of Medicine, 20th Cent.
History of Medicine, 21st Cent.
Missions and Missionaries/*history
United States
Western World/*history
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