SEOUL: South Korea on Wednesday (Mar 20) announced the allocation of 2,000 new medical school admissions slots nationwide every year, moving ahead with a reform plan to create more doctors despite a crippling month-long strike by medics opposed to it.

Hospitals have been forced to cancel crucial treatments and surgeries since thousands of trainee doctors stopped working on Feb 20 to protest proposed training reforms, but the government has vowed not to back down, threatening striking medics with legal action.

Seoul says it needs more new doctors to address one of the lowest doctor-to-population ratios among developed nations and to cope with the needs of an ageing population.

The bulk of the 2,000 new slots for medical students were awarded to universities outside the Seoul capital region, underscoring the government’s drive to boost capacity in under-served rural areas.

More than 80 per cent of the new quota of students was allocated outside of the capital region “to set up competitive regional medical systems”, Education Minister Lee Ju-ho said at a press briefing.


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