A majority of neighborhood clinics in South Korea will close on Friday, as the Korea Medical Association has decided to go ahead with its scheduled one-day strike.
The decision made by the KMA, which represents some 130-thousand doctors nationwide, is in protest against healthcare reforms announced by the government, including a plan to expand admissions quotas for medical schools.
However, the KMA said medical practitioners whose services directly affect the lives of patients, such as those working in emergency rooms, intensive care units and delivery rooms, will not join the strike.
The President of the KMA wrote on his Facebook page that doctors are faced with continued threats by the authorities that they will issue a guidance or order medical institutions to resume medical services.
Noting Article 59 of the Medical Service Act provides the legal ground for the government to issue such an order, Choi Dae-zip called for the need to abolish such an act that undermines doctors' rights to collective action.
While the KMA refuses to sit down for talks, the government continues to stress the need for negotiations.
"The government has expressed its intention to embrace the idea of establishing a consultative body, as suggested by the KMA. We ask the Association to come to the negotiation table to gather wisdom with the Ministry of Health and Welfare."
Health minister Park Neung-hoo will make a public statement at 11 a.m. Thursday, urging the doctors to withdraw their plans.
Last week, thousands of trainee doctors staged a one-day strike, arguing the government's (quote) "hasty and unilateral" decision to expand the quotas may lead to insufficient medical training.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.