원산노동병원; 의료보장; 노동조합; 일제 식민지기; 원산총파업; Wonsan Laborers’ Hospital; health coverage; labor union; Japanese occupation; Wonsan General Strike
의사학 2016.12, 제25권 제3호(통권 제 54호) , Page. 445-488
On July 3, 1928, the Wonsan Labor Union established the Wonsan Laborers’ Hospital in Seoku-dong, Wonsan for the purpose of reducing medical consultation fees for its members. The union’s efforts to improve the welfare of its members include the establishment of an educational institute, a consumers union, a barbershop, and a relief department. The Laborers’ Hospital, which began with ten wards, was led by a team of two doctors, one midwife, two pharmacists, and four nurses. The two doctors were Cheol-sun Cha and Jeong-kwon Lee, and the midwife/nurse was Sun-jeong Kim. Union members received a 40% discount on medicine, and this was utilized by a daily average of 60 to 70 workers, or 21,000 workers annually.
The Laborers’ Hospital was clearly distinct from medical facilities founded as charity institutions in that funds were raised by the recipients themselves, and that the recipients formed a community based on their common status as laborers. However, the Wonsan Laborers’ Hospital was shut down in roughly April 1929 due to the breaking of the general strike, and the heightened suppression of union activities prevented any additional opening of laborers’ hospitals until Korea’s liberation from Japan.
Nevertheless, the history of the Wonsan Laborers’ Hospital represents a key development in Korea’s health coverage. It is not adequate to declare, as was the case in past research, Korea’s health coverage to be simply an imitation of the Western system and lacking its own history. Despite some differences in scale and operation, the development of health coverage in the Korean peninsula is in line with the history of health coverage development in the West. The Wonsan Laborers’ Hospital, founded and operated by the laborers themselves, thus holds great significance in the history of Korea’s health coverage, The findings of this study are expected to stimulate new and more diverse discussions on the history of health coverage in Korea.