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Police commence first compulsory investigation on KMA

Posted March. 02, 2024 07:47,   

Updated March. 02, 2024 07:47


The police conducted searches and seizures at the residences and offices of both current and former executives of the Korean Medical Association (KMA) in connection to the medical gap issue. This marks the first compulsory investigation undertaken since the incident arose. The Ministry of Health and Welfare also disclosed the medical license numbers of 13 residents (interns and residents) who had submitted resignation letters on its official website, instructing them to resume their duties in the medical field. Although the government had initially set a deadline of Thursday for the residents to return to work, as the majority did not comply, it seems they are now exerting pressure on medical professionals' organizations from all angles.

On Friday, the Public Crimes Investigation Unit of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency carried out a search and seizure operation at the KMA in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, as well as the office of the Gangwon Provincial Medical Association in Chuncheon City, Gangwon Province of Kim Taek-woo, chairman of the Emergency Response Committee of the Medical Association on charges related to violations of medical law. Relevant data was seized during this process. The investigation's focus extends to five current and former executives of the KMA, including Chairman Kim and Joo Soo-ho, who serves as chairman of the media and publicity committee. The search operation also encompassed the residences of Joo and Lim Hyun-taek, chairman of the Korean Pediatric Society.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health and Welfare filed a report with the National Police Agency, accusing Chairman Kim and five others of violating the orders to commence work as stipulated under the Medical Service Act and instigating and aiding the obstruction of business. The government's assessment is that they interfered with the operations of training hospitals by either encouraging or facilitating collective actions, such as supporting and providing legal assistance for the collective resignation of medical residents. Subsequently, on Wednesday, following the receipt of the complaint, the police transferred the case to the Seoul Police Agency and conducted legal scrutiny to apply for a search and seizure warrant on Thursday.

On Friday, the Ministry of Health and Welfare took further action by publicly issuing an order to commence work via its website to 13 residents who had left their hospitals, including Park Dan, the president of the Korean Intern Resident Association (Daejeon Association). In cases where the intended recipient cannot be reached directly, posting such notices on the official website is a standard procedure. The government has declared its intention to suspend the licenses of medical residents who fail to comply with this order for a minimum of three months and to initiate legal proceedings against them. An official from the Ministry of Health and Welfare explained, "They are individuals for whom registered mail was returned or whose contact information has changed among those subject to the initial work commencement order."

In response to the search and seizure operations and the issuance of public notices on this day, the KMA announced, "We reject the false accusation that we have incited voluntary resignations, and we oppose the coercion of residents who do not have hospital placements due to resignations or contract terminations to return to work." The association announced plans to hold a large-scale rally in Yeouido, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, on Sunday.

최원영 0@donga.com