Korean J Med Hist.  2002 Dec;11(2):137-153.

A History of Medical License in Korea

  • 1Department of History, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea.
  • 2Dong-Eun Medical Museum, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea.


Medical license is to qualify a person for medical practice and to attribute him/her a privileged right in the practice. This privileged and exclusive right asks for protection from the side of a state and the state in turn needs qualified medical personnel in order to carry out her task of public health, one of the main duties of modern states. In Europe, physicians succeeded in obtaining medical license that guarantees the privileged right in a highly competitive medical market against other practitioners. The first regulation for medical license in Korea was made in 1900 when few Korean doctors trained in Western medicine was in practice. The regulation aimed at controlling traditional medical practitioners who had been practicing medicine without any qualification as a physician. The regulation was very brief, consisting of only seven articles. A newly revised regulation appeared in 1913 when Korea was under the occupation of Japan. The Japanese Government-General enacted a series of regulations about medical personnel, including dentists and traditional medical practitioners. This heralds its full-scale engagement in medical affaires in Korea. Unlike the case of European countries where medical license was obtained after a long struggle with other practitioners, in Korea, medical license was given to doctors too easily from the state. And this experience played a very important role in the formation of identity of Korean doctors.


Medical license; Regulation for doctor
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