Korean J Med Hist.  1999 Dec;8(2):169-186.

The brief history of Korean traditional medicine (1899-1999)

  • 1Department of Pathology, College of Orientation Medicine, Wonkwang University, Korea.


Since Korea had opened her ports to foreign forces, the typically royal system of her traditional medicine started to turn its attention more to a modernized and folk-focused one. After the Kap-oh Reformation (1884) had ended in vain, under the spirit of the 'Eastern mind in Western frame' that gained influence during Kwang-moo Reformation (1896-1905), Euihakguanje (1899) and Euisagyuchik (1900) were decreed to find reciprocal support between Eastern and Western medical science. It was the reflection of the independent will Korean medical devotes to reply to the swirling changes around the country. However, the Japanese rule (1910-1945) would not allow the survival of the inherited medicine of the colony and the Korean cure system could only persist as folk remedies. The situation didn't get better in the post-liberation years when the Western medical system that had found its secure base of growth under the Japanese government continued to keep its privilege while the original Korean medicine failed to recover its dominance. The law of medicine provided qualification of Oriental doctors but the nominal regulation without any administrational support has been far from being practical. Thus, the history of Oriental medicine in Korea after 1945 has been all but strife. To outline the past hundred years of Korean medicine briefly, it has a chance of renovation during the modernization oriented years (1882 - 1910); suffered under the severe restraint of imperial control (1910 - 1945); strived to build legal and structural background after the liberation (1945 - 1970); and has been fighting to regain its authority since the democratic wave of the eighties (1980 -1999). Conflict struggle in the 20th century shall be resolved into harmony in the beginning century of a new millennium. Medicine also will find warm ground of compatibility and bear 'the 3rd medicine.' All who are devoted to healthy welfare of people should find their responsibility of connecting the forgotten lines of the national medicine and upon the regained tradition, proudly developing it into a universal system of cure.

MeSH Terms

English Abstract
History of Medicine, 20th Cent.
Medicine, Traditional/*history
Philosophy, Medical/*history
Full Text Links
  • KJMH
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2024 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr