The Korea Herald


Yoon to address nation on medical reform Monday amid attention to possible change to 2,000 quota hike

By Yonhap

Published : April 1, 2024 - 09:30

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President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the Cabinet meeting in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the Cabinet meeting in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol plans to address the nation Monday on the government's push for medical reform, his office said Sunday, amid keen attention to whether he may show a flexible attitude toward the state plan to boost the medical school enrollment quota by 2,000 seats.

"As there are many opinions saying that the people still want to know about the progress on the government's plan for medical reform and the medical school quota hike, Yoon plans to explain them in detail tomorrow," the presidential office said in a text message to reporters.

Yoon is expected to deliver a speech at his office Monday morning, which will be broadcast live. He will address the nation for the first time since November last year, when he apologized to the people for South Korea's failure to win in its bid to host the 2030 World Expo.

Public anxiety about medical service disruptions has been growing amid the protracted walkout by trainee doctors in protest of the government's plan for the medical school enrollment quota hike.

More than 90 percent of the country's 13,000 junior doctors have been on strike in the form of mass resignations since Feb. 20, with medical professors having submitted resignations in support of the walkout since last week.

Concerns have heightened that the prolonged walkout could disrupt medical services as medical professors and community doctors are set to reduce their working hours starting this week.

Ahead of the April 10 general elections, some candidates from the ruling People Power Party have proposed that Yoon take a gradual approach on the quota increase.

It remains uncertain whether Yoon could relax his adamant stance on the 2,000 quota hike or whether he would reaffirm his current position while stressing the need for medical reform.

Senior officials at the presidential office refrained from mentioning what would be in the message Yoon will issue Monday.

The government has said it is open to dialogue with the medical community to resolve the situation, but made it clear that the quota increase of 2,000 cannot be changed.

The government said the move is aimed at addressing a chronic shortage of doctors in rural areas and essential but less popular medical fields. But doctors called for measures to first address the underpaid specialists and improve the legal protection against excessive medical malpractice lawsuits. (Yonhap)