DP leader urges gov’t, doctors to meet halfway to resolve walkout

SEOUL, Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung urged trainee doctors Wednesday to return to work as they stayed away from the job for the second day as part of a collective resignation campaign protesting the government's plan to increase medical school admissions. Lee also urged the government to come up with a compromise, stressing that the planned 65 percent hike, or 2,000 seats, in the medical school admission quota is too steep and the increase should be carried out gradually. Medical services at general hospitals across the country, including the country's five biggest hospitals in Seoul, experienced partial disruptions, such as canceled surgeries, after interns and resident doctors failed to report for work following their mass resignations. "While hoping for an immediate cessation of strikes or collective action, I also urge the government to create feasible alternatives through sufficient discussions," Lee, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, said in a party leadership meeting. According to the health ministry, more than 70 percent of trainee doctors nationwide, including interns and residents, have submitted their resignations en masse as of Wednesday. Out of over 8,800, about 7,800 did not report for work, and more junior doctors are expected to follow suit. The collective action is part of a nationwide protest against the government's decision to add 2,000 slots to the country's medical school enrollment quota next year, a significant increase from the current 3,058 seats. "It is appropriate to increase gradually and sequentially," Lee said, adding that the government's plan to increase medical student admissions should take into consideration realistic matters. On Tuesday, President Yoon Suk Yeol urged young doctors to call off their collective action, saying that the increase still falls far short of the required number and there would be no negotiation with the planned increase. Criticizing Yoon's strong stance, Lee said such remarks will not only fail to solve the current problem but will also intensify the standoff between the government and the medical community. Source: Yonhap News Agency