Korean J Med Hist.  2002 Jun;11(1):85-110.

The Development of Private Hospital in Modern Korea, 1885-1960

  • 1Department of Medical History and Medical Ethics, Inje University, Korea.


Modern hospital in Korea was the space of competition and compromise among different forces such as the state power and social forces, imperialism and nationalism, and the traditional and the modern medicine. Hospital in the Japanese colonialism was the object of control for establishing the colonial medical system. Japanese colonialism controlled not only the public hospital but also the private hospital which had to possess more than 10 infectious beds in the isolation building by the Controlling Regulation of Private Hospital. In fact, the private hospital had to possess more than 20 beds for hospital management. As a result, its regulation prevented the independent development of the private hospital. But because the public hospital could not accommodate many graduates of medical school, most of them had to serve as a practitioner. Although some practitioners had more than 20 beds in their clinics, they were not officially included in the imperial medicine. By concentrating on the trend of the number of bed in the hospital, this paper differs from most previous studies of the system of hospital, which have argued that the system of hospital was converted the public-centered hospital system under the colonial medical system into the private-centered hospital system under the U. S. medical system after the Liberation in 1945. After Liberation, medical reformers discussed arranging the public and the private hospital. Lee Yong-seol, who was a Health-Welfare minister, disagreed the introduction of the system of state medicine. Worrying about the flooding of practitioners, he did not want to intervene the construction of hospital by state power. Because the private hospital run short of the medical leadership and the fundamental basis, the state still controlled the main disease in the public health and the prevention of epidemics. This means the state also played important part in the general medical examination and treatment. The outbreak of Korean War in 1950 reinforced the role of state. The leadership of the public hospital verified the trend of the quantity of bed. The number of bed in the private hospital exceeded that of the public hospital in 1966 for the first time. Furthermore, the number of bed in the public hospital doubled that of private hospital in the new general hospital of 1950s. This means the system of hospital after the Liberation was not converted the public-centered hospital system into the private-centered hospital system, but maintained the public-centered hospital system until 1960s.


private hospital; public hospital; practitioner; colonial medical system; state medicine; public-centered hospital system

MeSH Terms

English Abstract
History of Medicine, 20th Cent.
History of Medicine, 21st Cent.
Hospitals, Public/*history
Hospitals, Voluntary/*history
United States
Full Text Links
  • KJMH
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2023 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr