Sunday, April 1, 2012

Brief history of modern nursing in Korea

Time to time I have been uploading some of the historical topics of Korea here . I have taken out these articles from The Korea Times written by Robert Neff. Being a student of Korean studies , I am very much of interest about all these issues and some of my followers and freinds as well as the other Korean studies students can get insight from these articles.
There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. And through the hundreds that grace the pages of Prof. Oak Sung-deuk’s new book, “A Pictorial History of Modern Nursing in Korea,” the reader ― or rather the viewer ― is granted a privileged account of the history of Western medicine in Korea. This massive tome contains rare images of Gwanghyewon (the first Korean hospital of modern medicine) which was established in April 1885 by Dr. Horace N. Allen who went on to become King Gojong’s personal physician and later the American Minister to Korea. Prof. Oak notes that at the Gwanghyewon, Allen “used ‘uinyo’ (government medical/dancing girls) as nurses, yet soon replaced them with male assistants.”Scattered throughout the book are the portraits of the various Western doctors and nurses ― most of them great personalities of the late Joseon Korea ― who, up until now, were mere names; faceless except in our imaginations. The rough buildings that served as their homes and medical facilities as well as their equipment are candidly revealed and further illustrate the trying conditions that these early medical pioneers endured.
A picture of a graveyard further emphasizes that many paid the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duties.Other sections deal with the training of Korean nurses at Severance Hospital and other facilities in the country at the beginning of the 20th century. This is followed by nursing during the Japanese colonial period at both the government and private hospitals.The book also provides pictures of the Korean government’s efforts to deal with such all-too-frequent tragedies as cholera and smallpox and war that plagued the country during the closing years of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.
A gruesome image of a Korean severely wounded during the March 1st Independence Movement of 1919 begins the section dealing with the Korean Red Cross. It is further supplemented with a picture of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai’s Red Cross efforts and a pamphlet entitled “A Plea from the Land of Sorrow ― Korea” self-described as “a brief statement of Koreans suffering from Japanese atrocities, famine and Asiatic cholera.”Scans of prominent missionary journals and publications can be found scattered throughout the book offering insights into the recipes of “Korean food for the sick” ― mainly porridges and gruels ― and their relative costs to make. One beef porridge was alleged by the Koreans to be good for everything but indigestion.Maps and drawings further add to the value of the book. Prof. Oak has provided locations of hospitals and medical facilities in Seoul during the early 20th century and an annotated drawing of the Jeongdong area around the American legation.
The book also provides an impressive bibliography. Several large archival collections are cited as well as hundreds of pages of periodicals, books, reports and pamphlets in English and Korean.The only criticism should be the English/Korean captions; a little more effort could have been made in regards to the English captions as the Korean captions have a lot more information including names and statistics.Priced at 100,000 won, the book is not cheap. It apparently was designed as a reference book for universities and libraries but, because of its size and the quality of the pictures, would also make an excellent coffee table book.All in all, “A Pictorial History of Modern Nursing in Korea” is a valuable visual resource to anyone with an interest in Korean history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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