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KMA decides to carry out a general strike on June 18

Posted June. 10, 2024 08:08,   

Updated June. 10, 2024 08:08


The Korean Medical Association has decided to carry out a general strike with all private clinics and GP offices across the nation to be closed next Tuesday. If doctors go on strike as planned, it will be their fourth time to hold a general strike following the ones they had in 2000, 2014, and 2020. This time, the strike is expected to have a more significant impact as professors of the Seoul National University College of Medicine and the Seoul National University Hospital will stay out of the office starting next Monday for an indefinite date. This could lead to a severe disruption in the medical service sector, potentially leaving patients in a more vulnerable position.

“The KMA members, in a unified stand, will close their offices and hold a general rally on June 18,” the KMA announced in a convention of national representatives on Sunday. The association revealed that the strike plan gained significant support, with 70,800 (63.3 percent) out of 111,861 valid votes in favor and 52,015 valid voters supporting collective action, including office closure, in an online poll from last Tuesday to Friday. The association initially planned to strike on June 20 in an emergency meeting of the executive board of directors last Monday but brought it forward by two days. This strategic move aims to maximize their collective action's influence by carrying out a strike right after the Seoul National University College of Medicine and the Seoul National University Hospital close down next Monday.

“We will continue an all-out fight against the government with all the tools at our disposal to protect the Korean medical industry from the government that is held accountable for wielding its authority to control the medical and education sectors,” said Lim Hyun-taek, the head of the KMA. If private clinics are closed, patients will only be left in a worse situation as university hospitals have struggled to handle patients seamlessly since interns and residents started leaving their jobs in February. “What action we will take on June 19 and 20 is completely up to the government,” he said, implying a probability that the forthcoming strike can last more than two days.

“We should not let trust fall apart in a flash in a relationship built around the medical community and patients because of a handful of hardliners calling for the KMA to scrap the strike plan,” South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said in a statement to the nation on the same day.

Sung-Min Park min@donga.com