South Korean court denies doctor group leaders’ request to stop license suspension

A court in Seoul dismissed requests by leaders of South Korea’s doctors’ association to halt the suspension of their medical licenses due to a mass walkout by trainee doctors protesting the government’s plan to increase medical school admissions. The Health Ministry suspended two KMA leaders for instigating the collective action, effective April 15.

Kim Taek-woo, emergency committee head and one of the suspended KMA leaders, filed a request with the Seoul Administrative Court to stop the license suspension. The court rejected the request, citing concerns about undermining the Health Ministry’s punitive actions against disobedience of back-to-work orders and the public’s trust in such actions. It also highlighted the risk of the walkout spreading and causing a prolonged medical vacuum, thus outweighing the damage to the suspended leaders.

In a related ruling, Park Myung-ha, KMA’s organisation consolidation chief, also failed in his attempt to halt the suspension of his medical license. The walkout by over 90% of trainee doctors since February 20 has put pressure on the government’s efforts to address the shortage of doctors by increasing medical school admissions by 2,000 next year. The court’s decisions reflect the priority of public health and welfare concerns over individual grievances in this contentious issue.


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