First Do No Harm: Korea’s Physicians, Government Policy, and Breakdown of Trust

Tuesday, April 16, 2024
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Via Zoom Webinar

  • Soonman Kwon, Professor, Seoul National University,
  • Jing Li, Assistant Professor of Health Economics, University of Washington,
  • Representative of the Korean Medical Student Association, in dialogue with Stanford Medical School students
First Do No Harm - April 16

This webinar is co-hosted by the Asia Health Policy Program and the Korea Program at Shorenstein APARC

What are the underlying issues that have led to the physician-government stand-off impacting South Korea’s medical system? In this webinar, Korean health policy experts and medical students share their views on the breakdown of trust hampering resolution of the impasse. Medical interns and residents walked out over a month ago to protest the government’s announced plan of a substantial increase in the quota for medical school enrollment, to address Korea’s rapidly aging population and low doctor-population ratio. Medical trainees objected to the policy, alleging it would only exacerbate current problems and decrease quality. Military physicians have been called upon to help support the strained medical system. Some attempts at dialogue have failed to diffuse the tensions, with many senior physicians also tendering resignations in support of the junior doctors, albeit remaining at work. Join our webinar to better understand the genesis of the stand-off and potential longer-term impacts.

Soonman Kwon 041624

Soonman Kwon is Professor and Former Dean of the School of Public Health, Seoul National University (SNU) and has worked over 30 years on UHC, health finance and systems, and ageing and long-term care in Korea and LMICs. He is the founding director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health System and Financing, and was the Chief of the Health Sector Group in the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He was the president of the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), which is a R&D agency under the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

He received the Excellence in Education award of Seoul National University in 2020. He served as president of leading academic associations in Korea, including Health Economic Association, Society of Health Policy and Management, Association of Schools of Public Health, and Society of Gerontology. He is an associate editor (Asia Region Editor) of Health Policy (Elsevier) and International Journal of Health Economics and Management (Springer). He holds PhD from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (1993) and taught at the University of Southern California School of Public Policy.

He has held visiting positions at the Harvard School of Public Health, London School of Economics, University of Toronto, University of Tokyo, Peking University, and University of Bremen. He has been a member of board or advisory committees of Health Systems Global (HSG), WHO Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, WHO Centre for Health and Development, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), etc. He is a member of WHO TAG (Technical Advisory Group) on UHC and WHO TAG on Pricing Policies for Medicines. He has occasionally been a short-term consultant of WHO, World Bank, and GIZ for health system and financing in Algeria, Armenia, Barbados, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Jing Li 041624

Jing Li is an Assistant Professor of Health Economics at the Comparative Health Outcomes, Policy and Economics (CHOICE) Institute at the University of Washington (UW) School of Pharmacy. A major focus of her research studies economic, social and behavioral factors related to decision-making of healthcare providers.

Her work has examined social preferences including altruism of medical students and practicing physicians in the U.S., and has linked these preferences to their career choice and medical practice behavior. Her publications have appeared in leading academic journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Health Economics, and JAMA Neurology.

Dr. Li was a faculty at Cornell University's Weill Medical College prior to joining UW. She received a PhD in Health Economics and MA in Economics from University of California, Berkeley, and an MA in International Comparative Education at Stanford University.