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President Yoon said, "2000 is the minimum."

Posted April. 02, 2024 08:10,   

Updated April. 02, 2024 09:50


“Two thousand isn’t just a random number. It is the minimum carefully calculated by the government,” South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Monday regarding the policy to increase the number of new students to be admitted to medical schools by 2,000. “If the medical sector is going to make an argument that the increase should be less than 2,000, they should make a unified proposal to the government based on solid scientific evidence, not taking collective actions. While the president left room for adjusting the increase size by mentioning the potential establishment of a societal discussion group involving people, the medical sector, and the government, some believe that the conflict between the government and the medical sector, which has been going on for almost 1.5 months, can be prolonged as the focus of their conversation is on the validity of adding 2,000 more spots to medical schools.

“While the government received criticism for making a clumsy, one-sided decision, this is not true,” said President Yoon in his public statement filmed in the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul on Monday. “Two thousand spots to be newly added are the minimum increase to fulfill constitutional duties of protecting people’s lives and safety and to respond to rapid aging,” the president said. “If gradual increase had been indeed possible, how come no government added a single spot during the past 27 years?” He dismissed the suggestion made by some ruling party members to gradually add new spots to medical schools.

Meanwhile, President Yoon also said the government’s policies always remain open, suggesting the establishment of a societal discussion group attended by people, the medical sector, and the government. However, the Korea Medical Association, which suggested the withdrawal of the plan as a prerequisite for discussions, said they had high expectations for the president’s statement and were highly disappointed. “There was no single step back about the 2,000 figure in the president’s statement,” said Kim Seong-geun, the head of the media and public affairs of the Korea Medical Association’s emergency response committee. “It is meaningless for groups to get together and have discussions when the numeric figure is already decided. “The possibility of residents, interns, and medical school students’ return is gone (with the statement),” said Bang Jae-seung, the head of the emergency response committee of national medical school professors.

Han Dong-hoon, the head of the emergency response committee of the People Power Party, said regarding the president’s suggestion of 2,000 as the minimum figure that this is not a simple matter of numbers as it is directly related to public health, repeatedly asking the possibility to adjust the increase size.

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com