South Korea’s Yoon accuses doctors of running a ‘cartel’ as the strike continues Labor Rights Issues

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Yoon has vowed not to back down from the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčexpanding medical school admissions.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has vowed not to back down from plans to expand medical school enrollments as he denounced doctors operating as a “cartel”.

Speaking to the nation on Monday, Yoon said the addition of 2,000 medical school places is what is needed.

“The figure of 2,000 is not just a coincidence that we found. We have reviewed the statistics and the necessary research and reviewed the current and future medical conditions,” Yoon said, adding that the government’s reform aims to establish “a medical environment where all people can receive treatment and peace of mind”.

Yoon said doctors who oppose the plans should stop “intimidating” and offer “a plan based on sound scientific opinion”.

“If a clear and reasonable plan is brought, we can negotiate as they want,” he said.

About 12,000 young doctors in South Korea have been on strike since early February over the idea, forcing hospitals to stop treatment and surgeries.

South Korea’s government says the changes are necessary to ease the labor shortage and manage the country’s rapid transition to an aging population.

South Korea had 2.6 doctors per 1,000 people in 2022, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the lowest among developed countries.

Trained doctors argue that the medical service is not ready to deal with the huge increase in new recruits and as a result the medical service will suffer.

Doctors taking part in the march face the risk of losing their medical licenses after the government last month took steps to stop them.

Mr Yoon urged doctors to return to work before the process of suspending their licenses ends, saying collective action should be considered “if I don’t keep my promises”.

Yoon also lamented the hardships people faced, saying he regretted not being able to “quickly resolve people’s problems”.

Yoon’s approval rating has fallen as the protests continue, with more than 36 percent of South Koreans expressing a favorable opinion of the president in a RealMeter poll released Monday.

South Korea will hold parliamentary elections next week that will be crucial for Yoon to avoid disability status for the remaining three of his five-year term.

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