Yoon Emphasizes Responsibility Amid Medical License Suspension for Striking Doctors

SEOUL - President Yoon Suk Yeol has highlighted the importance of responsibility that comes with freedom, especially for physicians, amid a significant walkout by trainee doctors protesting the government's decision to increase medical school seats.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Yoon's remarks were made during a meeting at the presidential office on Sunday, as the country faces a healthcare crisis with about 70 percent of its 13,000 medical interns and residents off the job for nearly two weeks.

The striking doctors, vital to surgeries and emergency services in major general hospitals, have defended their mass resignations as an exercise of their freedom, despite the government's calls for their return. Following the lapse of a government-set deadline for the doctors to resume work, steps are being taken to suspend the medical licenses of those participating in the walkout and to accelerate investigations into the leaders of the Korea Medical Association for allegedly inciting the protest.

The government reports that the strike has caused major hospitals to turn away non-emergency patients and cancel roughly half of all surgeries. President Yoon has insisted on the urgency of medical reform policy, stating that the plan to increase the number of doctors is non-negotiable, even as striking doctors argue it does not address underlying issues such as workload and lack of incentives for essential healthcare services.

Despite these challenges, Yoon's approval rating has remained above 40 percent, reflecting some level of public support for the government's stance on medical reform. A recent survey by Realmeter showed a slight dip in positive assessment of Yoon's performance to 41.1 percent and an increase in negative views to 55.4 percent.

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