South Korea warns junior doctors to end walkout or face prosecution


(MENAFN) With just hours remaining before the Thursday deadline, South Korea's government has issued a final plea to junior doctors, urging them to end their walkout. The appeal comes amidst the government's threats to suspend medical licenses and pursue legal action against the striking doctors.

For approximately 10 days, thousands of medical interns and residents have participated in the strike to protest the government's initiative to increase medical school enrollments. In response, government officials have issued warnings, stating that strikers will face legal consequences if they fail to return to their hospital duties by Thursday.

As of Wednesday night, the Health Ministry reported that around 9,076 out of the country's 13,000 medical interns and residents had officially resigned from their hospital positions and left. Observers anticipate that many strikers will defy the deadline, prolonging the labor boycott for weeks or even months. Formal measures for punishments are expected to commence on Monday, given that Friday is a national holiday.

The standoff between the government and junior doctors underscores the deep-seated tensions surrounding healthcare policies and labor practices in South Korea. The outcome of this confrontation will not only impact the medical profession but also have broader implications for the country's healthcare system and the well-being of its citizens.

“We’ve said that we won’t hold them responsible for leaving their worksites if they return by today,” Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo reported to a briefing. “Doctors are there to serve patients, and those patients are anxiously waiting for you. This isn’t the way to protest against the government.”

Park stated that officials had extended invitations to 94 representatives of the striking doctors for a meeting scheduled on Thursday afternoon, employing a mass text message to communicate. While it remains uncertain whether any doctors will attend, Park expressed his intention to be present at the meeting site and engage in discussions with any attendees who show up.

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