South Korean President Calls Striking Doctors a 'Cartel'

  • South Korean Pres. Yoon Suk-yeol reiterated his desire to increase annual medical school admissions by 2K, and he went on to accuse the doctors in the ongoing strike against the proposal of being a "cartel." Al Jazeera (LR: 2 CP: 1)
  • Yoon said the 2K figure was "not a random figure we came up with" but rather an "essential" policy to "combat shortages and treat a fast-aging society." Koreatimes
  • Since thousands of doctors in training walked off the job on Feb. 20, hospitals have had to cancel surgeries and other important treatments. In response, the government has threatened to suspend their medical licenses. Barrons
  • On Monday, medical professors and private practice doctors also announced that they'll begin a new "law-abiding" protest by reducing their hours to the mandatory minimum of 40 per week. English
  • Yoon said past government attempts to increase admissions failed repeatedly, with "the cartel of doctors" being "strengthened" each time. He called on doctors to articulate a "blueprint with clear scientific reasoning" rather than striking. The Straits Times
  • While the public initially supported the government's plan, new polls suggest that 60% of respondents believe Yoon should make changes to the original proposal. Koreatimes

Narrative A:

  • South Korean doctors have pulled these schemes for decades, and the government never punishes them. Despite a visible decline in medical personnel, hospital leaders and medical school professors never hold students accountable for breaking the law. Whether the government proposes an admissions increase of 2K or 500, the medical establishment enjoys its elite status too much to prioritize patients over their desires.

Narrative B:

  • This strike is not just over admissions rates but rather a response to deeper issues with the national healthcare system. Despite life expectancy and the economy growing, the government has not increased compensation for doctors working at national hospitals. This has led to an exodus from medical care and toward cosmetic fields. If the government gave the pool of quality doctors the resources, there would be more health providers across the country.

Nerd narrative:

  • There's a 50% chance that South Korea's fertility rate will be at least 0.69 in 2032, according to the Metaculus prediction community.
    METACULUS (LR: 3 CP: 3)
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