Korean J Med Hist.  2006 Jun;15(1):1-21.

The Gaze of the Others: How the Western medical missionaries viewed the traditional Korean medicine

  • 1Department of Medical History, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea.


It is generally known that the Western medical missionaries played an important role in introducing Western medicine into Korea. However, little is known about their role in introducing traditional medicine of Korea to the Western world. The present paper aims at showing various efforts of the Western medical missionaries to understand the Korean traditional medicine and to introduce it to the Western world. Allen payed attention to the clinical effect and commercial value of the Ginseng; Busteed gave anthropological descriptions of the traditional medical practice; Landis translated a part of the most cherished medical textbook of Korean traditional medicine Dong-Eui-Bo-Gam into English; Mills, along with his colleagues in Severance Union Medical College, tried more scientific approaches toward the traditional medicine. All these various efforts proves that the attitudes of the Western medical missionaries cannot be summarized as one simplistic view, that is, the orientalism, a term which is quite en vogue today. Of course, we cannot deny that there may be such elements, but to simplify the whole history as such does not only reflect the fact, but also miss a lot of things to be reflected in history.


Traditional Medicine; Medical Missionary; Western Medicine; Ginseng; Dong-Eui-Bo-Gam

MeSH Terms

Western World/history
Missions and Missionaries/*history/psychology
Medicine, Oriental Traditional/*history
History, 20th Century
History, 19th Century
Attitude of Health Personnel
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