Korean J Med Hist.  2002 Jun;11(1):20-48.

The Emergence of Korean Modern Hospitals: Hospitals in the Late Period of Chosun Dynasty

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea.
  • 2The Graduate School of Health Science and Management, Yonsei University, Korea.


Hospitals are confronting in the transforming or reforming period to cope with the rapid social and environmental changes worldwide. By the researches in the history of Korean health, we could understand the context of the introduction of Western medicine and institutions to Korea. However there have been few studies on the historical review of hospitals in relations to their roles in the modern medicineThis article is to review the issues around the rise of modern hospitals in Korean history of health affairs. The introduction of Western medicine to Korea was on the road with the establishment of Kwanghyewon, the Royal Hospital, which was possible due to favorable conditions under the Korean socio-political background for the emerging and accepting the entirely new medical system. And also the emergence of modern hospitals had transformed the Korean traditional health system from the fundamentals through the corruption of the old dynasty to nowadays. Most national health affairs including medical services, prevention of diseases, health promotion, and the training of health personnels have performed along with the development of modern hospitals, which have the roots in the period after the end of 19th century. Thus the Korean history of health care around the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century could be defined as the period of the emergence of modern hospitals. The hospitals also have played core roles in establishing the Korean modern health system and culture. Compared to the cases of Western countries, Korean modern hospitals were emerged with the exogenous factors in the turbulence of political and cultural changes in the world system. In sum, Korean modern hospitals in the period of late Chosun have the great meaning in that they are the beginning point to shape the current Korean health care system and the driving forces or carriers of this new system.


Emergence; Modern Hospital; Health Transformation

MeSH Terms

English Abstract
History of Medicine, 19th Cent.
History of Medicine, 20th Cent.
History of Medicine, 21st Cent.
Western World/*history
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