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Tuesday June 25, 2024

South Korean govt to compromise on medical reforms, meet opposition

Yoon’s refusal to communicate with parliamentary leaders and the standoff with doctors were key issues in last week’s legislative elections

By Reuters
April 20, 2024
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a cabinet meeting in Seoul. — AFP/File
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a cabinet meeting in Seoul. — AFP/File

SEOUL: South Korea’s government announced a compromise in its medical reform plans on Friday in a bid to end a two-month walkout by doctors, and also said President Yoon Suk Yeol would meet the opposition leader for the first time after two years in office.

The conciliatory moves followed a crushing election defeat for Yoon’s ruling party last week. The government has been locked in a stalemate with doctors over its plans to boost medical school admissions.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said on Friday the government accepted a proposal by major state medical school deans to let them set new admissions for 2025. This was the first shift from the government’s plan to increase new medical student admissions by 2,000 a year from next year, eventually adding 10,000 more physicians by 2035.

The association representing the country’s trainee doctors who walked off the job on Feb 20 said it had no information to share, following the government announcement.

Following the announcement on medical school admissions, Yoon’s office and the opposition Democratic Party (DP) said Yoon and DP leader Lee Jae-myung held a brief phone call and Yoon invited him to a meeting next week.

Yoon’s refusal to communicate with parliamentary leaders and the standoff with doctors were key issues in last week’s legislative elections, in which Yoon’s ruling party failed to win back control of parliament.

A Gallup Korea opinion survey published on Friday showed Yoon’s support ratings had plunged by 11 percentage points to 23 percent, the lowest since he took office in May 2022.