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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 22(2); 2013 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2013;22(2): 449-482.
doi: https://doi.org/10.13081/kjmh.2013.22.449
한국 현대 의학사 연구에서 구술사의 적용: 의학자들의 구술을 중심으로
Application of Oral History to Contemporary History of Medicine in Korea: With a Focus on Medical Scientists
Ock Joo Kim
Department of the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. okim9646@snu.ac.kr
Received: July 2, 2013;  Accepted: July 26, 2013.  Published online: August 31, 2013.
The oral history helps researchers to fill the gap in historical documents in research on the contemporary history of medicine in Korea. More and more studies in history of contemporary medicine in Korea have come out using oral history of doctors and patients. Based upon the author's research on development of neurosurgery in late 20th century Korea, this paper discusses how to apply oral history to contemporary history of medicine, focusing on oral history of doctors in Korea. In this paper the author describes how to do and use oral history of key doctors and medical scientists in the contemporary history of medicine in Korea. The oral history can be a powerful tool to complement the written documents as following. First, from their interview, doctors and medical scientists often provide valuable information which historians cannot get from documents and written sources. As intelligent interviewees, they not only understand the purpose of research but also help actively the historian-researcher-interviewer. Second, the oral history facilitates further searches and often it leads to more findings of informants, and written and image material. More often than not, doctors and medical scientists do their own research on the topic and provide the historian with valuable historical source material from their laboratories, bedsides, family and friends. Third, interviews with medical scientists and oral material produced by doctors and medical scientists helped the researcher to understand and interpret the papers and written documents. Fourth, the subjective stories told by the medical scientists provide perspectives and historical source as narrative truth. Before a historian attempts to use the oral material as complementary historial evidence, he or she needs to cross-check the validity and of objectivity of the oral material. Oral material is produced through bidirectional intersubjective interaction between the interviewer and interviewee, and critical reflection over the relationship between the two is crucial. Especially the researcher should keep an eye on the possible bias and strive for the objectivity of the oral material with discernment and reflection, when she or he found the interviewees of doctors and medical scientists closely connected together and tied together in a web of relationship with a common interest or agenda.
Key Words: oral history, physicians, contemporary history of medicine in Korea, objectivity
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