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Resident Doctors in South Korea Ordered Back to Work After Mass Resignations

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Resident Doctors in South Korea Ordered Back to Work

The South Korean government warned on Friday that more than 150 resident doctors have resigned in protest over a government proposal to accept more students to medical schools, endangering public health.

The health ministry said it had issued a back-to-work order to 154 resident doctors at seven hospitals, warning them that failure to comply would result in penalties.

The government intends to increase medical school admissions by 2,000 students in the 2025 academic year and add 10,000 doctors by 2035. Currently, over 3,000 students join medical school each year.

Doctors and medical students have expressed strong opposition to the idea, claiming that increasing the number of physicians will result in unneeded medical care and wreak havoc on the national health insurance system’s finances.

Earlier, resident doctors at the country’s five largest hospitals, all in Seoul, announced their resignations, effective Tuesday, according to Park Dan, the head of the Korea Interns and Residents Association (KIRA).

Tough stance against strikes by Doctors

Resident Doctors South Korea

According to media sources, the shift would involve approximately 2,700 doctors, or roughly one-fifth of the country’s medical interns and resident doctors. The system depends on them for emergency and acute treatment.

The government stated that any collective action by doctors or resident doctors is prohibited, and that it will take a tough stance against strikes or refusals to work. It committed to continue with the plan to expand doctors, which polls show has widespread public support.

The health ministry has ordered all teaching hospitals to overlook doctor resignations, and those who do not comply with the back-to-work order may face legal consequences, according to Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo.

“There will be no amnesty or reprieve this time,” Park informed Asia One News.


The government scrapped a proposal in 2020 to raise medical school admissions by 4,000 over ten years due to strong resistance from the medical community and a trainee doctor strike.

At the time, the government filed charges against ten trainee doctors who went on strike, but ultimately dismissed and restored them.

Resident Doctors Play a Key Role

Resident Doctors South Korea

The government’s plan intends to boost the number of doctors practicing outside of Seoul, particularly in core specialties such as paediatrics and obstetrics, while also strengthening the profession’s protection against malpractice suits and prosecution.

Doctors and medical students have stated that the proposal will not address the overcrowding of large teaching hospitals or the absence of incentives for doctors to practise in fundamental specialties.

Doctors and resident doctors around the country rallied on Thursday, urging the government to abandon the plan.

Resident doctors in South Korea play a vital role in the healthcare system. These doctors undergo rigorous training to become specialists in their field. They work long hours, gaining hands-on experience in hospitals and clinics across the country.

South Korea’s healthcare system relies heavily on resident doctors to provide quality care to patients. These doctors are often faced with challenging cases, requiring quick thinking and problem-solving skills.

Despite the demanding nature of their work, resident doctors in South Korea are dedicated to their profession and committed to improving the health and well-being of their patients.



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