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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 19(1); 2010 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2010;19(1): 1-43.
한국 전근대 의학사 연구 동향
Trends in Research on the History of Medicine in Korea before the Modern Era
Dongwon Shin
School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), 373-1 Guseong-dong, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-701, Korea. newsdw@kaist.ac.kr
Research on the history of medicine in Korea in the form of modern scholarship began with the publication in 1930 of Yi Neunghwa's "A History of the Development of Medicine in Korea." The purpose of the present study lies in surveying studies on the history of medicine in Korea in the past 80 years since the publication of Yi's paper. In terms of periodization, research on the history of medicine in Korea is bifurcated by the publication of two comprehensive histories.i. e., Miki Sakae's A History of Medicine and Disease in Korea (1963) and Kim Du-jong's The Complete History of Medicine in Korea (1966). Indeed, all earlier studies converged in these two books. Because Miki and Kim both had majored in Western medicine and conducted research based on similar perspectives, data, and methods, the two works overlap considerably, and Kim's book, as the later of the two, unfortunately lost the initiative to the former to a considerable extent. As a result of these two scholars' research, it became possible to trace the overall flow of the history of medicine in Korea. Following the publication of works by Miki and Kim and with the advent of the 1980's, research on the history of medicine in premodern Korea was renovated with the emergence of no fewer than some dozen new doctoral degree holders in the field. In fact, these young scholars went beyond surveying trends in each era to expand the scope of specific discussions and topics per era, to delve into the actual contents, and to elucidate the function of medicine in society. The fruits of studies conducted in the past 80 years on the history of medicine in premodern Korea can be summarized as follows. 1) before the 5th century AD: the existence of a comprehensive medical practice in regions inhabited by those considered to be the ancestors of the Korean people; and information on medication including ginseng. 2) 5th-10th centuries: the existence of professional medical posts; the management of medicine by the royal household; institutions for medical education; the import and use of Chinese medical texts; the compilation of independent medical texts; the transmission of medical knowledge to Japan; and the import and export of medicinal ingredients. 3) 10th-14th centuries: public medical organs; medicine focusing on domestic medication; the invitation of medical doctors and the transmission of new medicine from Song China; the inclusion of medicine in the civil service examinations; the compilation of diverse types of Korean medical texts including those on native medicinal ingredients; disaster relief organs; regional medical organs; regional medicinal ingredient tribute system; and the state's measures against infectious diseases. 4) 14th-17th centuries: the consolidation of traditional East Asian medicine; the consolidation of Korean medicine including native medicinal ingredients; the emergence of a medical tradition that stresses the Daoist preservation of health ; and the publication of dozens of types of Chinese and Korean medical texts led by the entral and regional governments. Also noteworthy is the emergence of simple medical texts on emergency relief, pregnancy and childbirth, smallpox, and epidemics ( as well as the dissemination of their vernacular editions. In addition, there were phenomena such as the increasing occupation of the posts of medical officials by the non-aristocratic middling jung'in class; the existence of Confucian scholar-physicians and women physicians; and the compilation of texts on independent external medicine. 5) 17th-19th centuries: the formation of medicinal ingredient markets; the spread of pharmacies throughout the provinces; a vogue for Ming Chinese medical texts; veneration for the Treasured Mirror of Eastern Medicine; the emergence of a positivistic stance toward medical research; a vogue for experiential remedies; interest in Western medicine; compilation of several medical texts on measles; criticism of Chinese traditional medicine and/or Korean traditional medicine; the spread of variolation; attempts to introduce smallpox vaccination ; Korean-Japanese medical exchange through the dispatch of Korean goodwill missions to Japan; a great vogue for the Treasured Mirror of Eastern Medicine in both China and Japan; the emergence of independent medical texts on acupuncture; the successful cultivation and massive export of ginseng; and the birth of the Sasang (4-type) constitutional typology, a native medical tradition.
Key Words: jinseng, native medicinal ingredients, Daoist preservation of health, Treasured Mirror of Eastern Medicine, medical official, Confucian scholar-physicians, women physicians, medicinal ingredient markets, variolation, constitutional typology
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