Korean J Med Hist.  2001 Jun;10(1):60-70.

Social status and role of students entering Jejoongwon: focus on Kyum-Rae Lee

  • 1Department of Medical History, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea.
  • 2Department of Anatomy and Dong-eun Medical Museum Yonsei University College of medicine, Korea.
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine Yonsei University College of medicine, Korea.


This study considers the social class and social role of the entering students of Jejoongwon at that time in light of its very first medical graduate, Kyum-Rae Lee. Foremost, Kyum-Rae Lee was confirmed to have been from a middle-class family. However, unlike other chungin-class families, his family belonged to the minority. He seemed to have entered medical school to seek opportunity to move up in social class by taking advantage of special government provisions, which allowed him to learn English and Western medicine. Afterwards, he performed heroic services in the peasant-war, proceeded up to administration and participated in the modernization of Great Han Empire. With his knowledge of Western concepts, he became involved in numerous social activities, such as organizing the Enlightenment Society and leading the Enlightenment Movement. In much the same way, most early students were from low-class background with exceptional personal abilities and were able to pass aptitude examinations. Such achievements allowed them to apply for positions in the military and administrative management. Ten years later, medical education to train medical professionals was revived with changes in attitudes of people of Chosun Dynasty toward Western medicine and with creation of formal medical study.


Jejoongwon; Kyum-Rae Lee; Chung-in class

MeSH Terms

Education, Medical/*history
English Abstract
History of Medicine, Modern
*Social Class
Students, Medical/*history
Western World/*history
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