J Korean Assoc Oral Maxillofac Surg 2024; 50(3): 121~122
The dispute over increasing medical student numbers in South Korea
Bu-Kyu Lee, DDS, MSD, PhD
President of Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
Bu-Kyu Lee
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 88 Olympic-ro 43-gil, Songpagu, Seoul 05505, Korea
TEL: +82-2-3010-3850
E-mail: bukyu.lee@gmail.com
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8888-1719
; Published online June 30, 2024.
© Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The South Korean government’s decision to increase the number of medical school students by 2,000, increasing the total from 3,058 to 5,058, has sparked a heated dispute between the government and the medical community.

1. Government stance1-3

The government argues that this move is necessary to address the shortage of doctors in the country, which has one of the lowest doctor-to-population ratios among OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations at 2.6 doctors per 1,000 people. They claim that this shortage will worsen due to an aging population and increasing demand for healthcare services. The implemented plan aims to improve access to medical care in rural and underserved areas, where there is a noted lack of doctors. The government has proposed allocating more seats to medical schools outside the Seoul region. Additionally, a government survey found that around 80% of citizens support increasing the number of medical students, indicating public backing for the move.


No funding to declare.

Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

  1. Nam D. Surge in medical school student sparks conflict between South Korean government and doctors [Internet]. Seoul: Herald Insight; 2024 [cited 2024 Mar 5].
  2. Lee J. Why raise the medical student quota? [Internet]. Seoul: Korea Herald; 2023 [cited 2023 May 24].
  3. Park J, Kim J. Explainer: Why are South Korean trainee doctors on strike over medical school quotas? [Internet]. London: Reuters; 2024 [cited 2024 Feb 22].

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