Traditional Asian medicine gains popularity in South Korea
July 21, 1996
Web posted at: 11:59 p.m. EDT (0359 GMT)
From Seoul Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-Ae
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- Seven-year-old Ji-Hoon has a
stomachache. But instead of using a stethoscope to diagnose
his problem, Ji-Hoon's doctor takes his pulse, and after much
persuasion, pushes seven small needles into pressure points, helping the stomachache go away.
Ji-Hoon went to one of the more than 6,000 South Korean
traditional medical clinics, gaining new popularity here.
"I've tried giving him medicine from the pharmacies, but
after a while, the trouble comes back," says Ji-Hoon's
mother, Gong Yae-Ok.
Many people like her are finding that the age-old practice of
acupuncture, supplemented by modern science, is a safe and
at times more effective alternative to Western medicine.
"There are many things Western medicine can't cure...even the
common cold. And increasingly, people are coming to us for
their ailments," says traditional medical doctor Lee Sung-Jo.
Growth prompts new regulations
The growth in popularity of traditional Asian medicine has prompted
the government to recently introduce measures to regulate and
modernize the industry.
One step: the requirement that all raw ingredients of
traditional medicine, like herbs and animal parts, be packaged
In this traditional Asian medicine market, new
regulations have forced many smaller shops to go out of
But it was the government regulations that first allowed
Western pharmacies to deal in traditional medicine, causing outrage among
"Stop oppressing traditional medicine," shout more than 2,000
of its practitioners.
Many of them have shaved their heads to protest the
government's rule to let Western pharmacies sell and dispense
"The government talks about modernizing our field, but it is
their policies which are preventing us from developing,"
says Roh Sang-Ryong, a doctor practising traditional Asian medicine.
Roh's clinic is a prime example of just how developed and
modern traditional medicine can be. He even has machines to help him diagnose the correct herbal brew.
Indeed, traditional medicine is being used for some modern concerns including helping burn off fat.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
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