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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 20(2); 2011 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2011;20(2): 291-326.
선교의사 알렌(Horace N. Allen)의 의료 활동과 조선인의 몸에 대한 인식 고찰
A Study on Horace N. Allen's Medicine and Recognition of Korean Body
Young Ah Lee
Bangmok College of General studies in Myongji University, Seoul, Korea. coolya112@naver.com
Je Jung Won was the first modern-style Government hospital built by the Korean King Ko-Jong in April 1885, and it was the medical missionary Horace Newton Allen(1858~1932) who made one of the greatest contributions to the establishment of the hospital. Allen was an American missionary. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in theology in 1881, and completed one-yearcourse at Miami Medical College. In Korea and America he worked as a physician, a missionary, an American diplomatic minister to Korea and a Korean minister's secretary to America. While acting as a mediator between Korea and America, he knew and recorded the domestic and foreign situation of Korea during Gaehwagi(the civilized and enlightened age). Thus to study him is to understand Korea's Gaehwagi as well as to research American medical missionaries. During his stay in Korea(1884~1905), Allen steadily wrote diaries and letters about Korean politics, diplomacy, society, culture, and medicine. Thus his public/private record through diaries and letters(the quantity of these materials amounts to several thousands) supplements the Korean early modern era's historical record. However, until now these materials have received little scholarly attention from researchers except for a few historians of missionary work between Korea and America, or of Korean modern medicine. I intended to use these materials to suggest a new perspective on the study of Korean Gaehwagi. Allen, along with John W. Heron, who came to Seoul on June 21st 1885, treated about 10,460 Korean patients in the first year of the opening of JeJungWon. They made "the first annual report of the Korean Government Hospital". This report explained how Allen and Heron regarded and treated Korean patients. Allen's diaries, letters and other writings offer a realistic view of how the western people actually recognized the Korean people at that time. As a western doctor, Allen had an ambivalent attitude toward Korean medical concepts and systems. On the one hand, he thought that medical idea, some food and drug of Korean is valuable. He said that the native Korea faculty had some good ideas with regards to treatment. And he held Korean rice, ginseng, and so on in high regard. However, he did not rate Korean acupuncture and Korean traditional ointment at all. In addition, he sometimes cured Korean patients dangerously and with imprudence. The amputation of patients' body, no matter how little, must ask the permission of the patients themselves. Especially, the sense of Korean filial duty couldn't accept amputation of body at those times. The artificial change of body meant to hurt parents' body, because at those times Korean people thought that my body was my parent's possession. But Allen did it without enough explanation or persuasion. Moreover he didn't feel guilty for the behavior at all. Besides, he seemed to be proud of it in the above mention. Such careless or unethical behavior cannot be excused. On the other hand, he had made mistakes in treatment according to his record. He pulled out some healthy teeth of patients who had a bad toothache. But he didn't explain nor apologize the mistake. Besides, he refused treatment of patients until the hospital would be opened in order to push Korean government to prepare hospital quickly. Why or how did he do that? The first answer available to the question, he might be so confident of his medical knowledge and skill that he didn't feel the need to ask the patients' thought and will. However, as stated above, his medical study was just one year. And he worried about his inexperience of surgery. Thus the first assumption seems to be false. He wasn't confident of his medical knowledge. The fact that nevertheless Allen treated Korean patients at his will, is still blamable. The second assumption is that he regarded western modern medicine as the only correct and proper approach. He didn't have many experiences, but his west modern medicine made him proud of its achievement. After middle 19th century of modern times, Micheal Foucault said at The Birth of Clinics, western modern medicine believed itself scientific on the ground that west modern medicine could have pathology and surgery. Allen might also trust the scientific ability of western modern medicine. So he might think that he didn't need to explain 'modern and scientific' medicine of West to people in 'premodern and non-scientific' medicine of Korea. The third answer is his 'Orientalism'. He thought that Koreans were dirty, lazy, and barbarous and, therefore, he made a clear distinction between Caucasian and Korean. He set his affection on 'Cho-Seon' and made efforts to cure Korean patients and establish the first western Government hospital in Korea. However he, as a westerner, could not free himself from 'Orientalism' and 'Imperialism'. Thus, he might ride so roughshod Korean patients. In fact the 'Orientalism' was not only Allen's thought. Many western visitors thought Korean as an 'Orient'. The West regarded themselves as civilized and the East as uncivilized or barbarous, therefore the West thought that the East should be modernized with the help of the West. This thought rationalized their imperialism and colonialism toward the East. In addition, he seemed to have some ambition in politics and diplomatics. He wanted to be a high-ranking official, so his goal of his life was political or economical power rather than medical missionary.
Key Words: Horace N. Allen, medicine, missionary, body, Cho-Seon(Korea), Gaehwagi(about the year 1876-1910, that is the civilized and enlightened age), Orientalism, western modern medicine
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