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NO.410 07.16.2018

At last, Inter-Korean Collaboration in Traditional Medicine

 ‘Spring on the Korean Peninsula’ is spreading beyond politics and into the private sector. The joining of hands that began in the religious circles is now poised to extend into the study of Korean medicine. Recently, the Korean medicine community in the South has proposed academic exchange to the North. Jae-Dong Lee, Dean of the Department of Clinical Korean Medicine, attended the 10th Global University Network of Traditional Medicine (GUNTM), hosted by the Taiwan University of Chinese Medicine between May 25 ~ 26. At this conference, Dr. Lee proposed the invitation of the Koryo Medical School of the Pyongyang Medical College (PMC). All member universities agreed.

Kyung Hee University’s College of Oriental Medicine proposes to invite the
In North Korea, traditional medicine is called “Koryo (Korean) Medicine.” In the 1990s, prior to the end of the Cold War, North Korea had active exchange with western medicine via eastern Europe. Economic downturn and international sanctions, however, have since forced North Korea to focus on oriental medicine. Dean Jae-Dong Lee shared, “Based on what we know, currently 80% of North Korean residents rely on Korean medicine.”


North Korea has based its medical system on homeopathy and traditional medicine: Koryo Medicine has allegedly defined over 50,000 treatments with high hopes to find among them ‘hidden treasures,’ treatments unknown to the outside world. Dean Lee expressed his hope to promote exchange and further development in medicine and said, “It is likely that there are areas of medicine that Korean Medicine has not been able to uncover. Through exchange, we hope to provide a transformational opportunity for the advancement in traditional medicine.”


The Beijing University of Chinese Medicine has been selected as the main channel of communication with the PMC. To carry out this task, a task force has been formed with the Taiwan University of Chinese Medicine as the team leader. The initial goal is to have PMC attend in the 11th GUNTM, slated for next year. The ultimate goal is to hold a GUNTM conference in Pyongyang as soon as possible.


GUNTM is a consultative body that was established in 2009 through a proposal by Kyung Hee. Current membership comprises seven universities (Kyung Hee University, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Shanghai University of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) from five countries, including China, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. Member institutions convene to share information regarding traditional medicine programs, research and findings from clinical experiments.

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