Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo speaks during a media briefing at the Goverment Complex Seoul, Friday. Yonhap

Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo, who has spearheaded the Yoon Suk Yeol administration’s efforts to boost the admissions quota of medical schools, has emerged as the primary adversary of doctors. He is being cited as a major obstacle hindering dialogue between the government and the doctors’ community to resolve the ongoing health care standoff.An emergency response committee representing medical professors nationwide called on the Yoon government to exclude Park from ongoing efforts to promote dialogue, if it sincerely wants to hold talks.The committee expressed concern over Park’s strong remarks, primarily conveyed during media briefings, which the professors argued have only served to provoke doctors further.“There could be progress in government-doctor talks if Park, who has only represented the government’s position, stepped back from engaging the news media,” Bang Jae-seung, head of the committee, said during a press conference, Saturday.“Park has misled the public by claiming that the medical school quota hike plan is not a matter to be negotiated with the doctors’ community and that a failure to raise the quota would lead to increased health insurance premiums.”Bang also noted a discrepancy in the government’s responses, highlighting that the second vice minister consistently maintained a firm stance, insisting that adding 2,000 slots to the admissions quota starting next year was non-negotiable. In contrast, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo emphasized the importance of promoting dialogue.Kang Hong-jae, a medical professor at Wonkwang University, criticized Park for exacerbating the situation, wherein thousands of trainee doctors have walked off their jobs to protest the government’s plan.“Park’s use of harsh language and disregard for the concerns of doctors have sparked emotional reactions from the doctors’ community,” Kang said.

Park has been a consistent presence at media briefings, serving as the main spokesperson nearly every day, since the collective action by trainee doctors began in February. During a ministry meeting, last Thursday, he characterized the ongoing standoff as “not a conflict between the government and doctors, but rather a contest between the people and privileged doctors’ groups.”Regarding the professors’ call for Park’s exclusion, Jeon Byung-wang, responsible for health care policy at the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said on Tuesday, “The claim is not worth commenting on.”This is not the first time that Park has been at the receiving end of criticism from doctors.On Feb. 27, groups representing female doctors lodged a complaint against him with the prosecution, accusing him of making sexist remarks.During a briefing on Feb. 20, Kim referenced a report by the state-run Korea Development Institute as supporting evidence to justify the government’s assertion that the country is facing a shortage of doctors. He said at the time, “The report included the increased ratio of female doctors and the gap in working hours between male and female doctors in its analysis.”Female doctors asserted that Park’s remarks insinuated that female doctors are less capable than their male counterparts, thus promoting discrimination against women.“Park belittled the professionalism and efforts of female doctors,” the groups said in a statement at the time.The Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) also joined the criticism, saying, “His official statement as a high-level government official caused widespread disappointment and distress among female medical practitioners at all levels. His statement could be based on unfounded generalizations and portray female physicians as being less capable and less 슬롯게이밍 competent.”

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