S. Korea’s Yoon Urges Doctors to Return, Leaves Room for Talks

(Bloomberg) — South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol said Monday he won’t back down on a plan to increase the number of medical school seats while he remains open for talks in a weekslong dispute that has prompted the walkout of almost all the nation’s trainee doctors.

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In an address to the nation, Yoon said the government’s plan to add 2,000 more slots at medical schools a year was a minimum requirement to address the country’s doctors shortage. Still, the government is willing to discuss the plan if doctors make a reasonable alternative proposal, he said.

“If (doctors) come up with more valid, reasonable solution, we can discuss it for sure,” Yoon said in an hour-long televised speech.

The doctors’ walkout has entered its second month with almost all of the South Korea’s 13,000 trainee doctors protesting the government plan. The trainees play key roles in emergency care and surgeries.

The government has said the increase in university slots from the current 3,058 is the first in nearly three decades and is needed to elevate the quality of medical services for the country’s rapidly aging population. The doctors contend the plan to increase enrollment won’t fix fundamental problems such as a shortage of physicians in fields seen as lower paying and a concentration of doctors in urban areas.

Yoon’s remarks come as South Korea prepares for a parliamentary election on April 10, a crucial vote for the president as his conservative party seeks to push forward its pro-business policies and maintain a tough line on organized labor.

The latest poll shows Yoon’s People Power Party leading in support ahead of the vote, but the margin may not be large enough to wrest control of parliament from the progressive bloc dominating the body.

Read more: South Korea Doctors’ Walkout Leaves Patients in Limbo

Polling shows support for Yoon’s plan but the numbers have slipped in recent weeks among voters who want to see an end to the labor action.

“The public is generally in support of the increase, but their anxiety has been growing. It’s the question of ‘What if I get hurt or sick right now?’ Voters with those concerns can’t favor the government,” said Shin Yul, a political science professor at Myongji University.

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Hello, My name is Ramveer Dhakar. I am a professional blog writer and working on moviesmentor.in since September 2021

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