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Restaurant boycotts doctors on medical strike

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : April 22, 2024 - 12:02

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A patient is sitting on a chair at a hospital in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap) A patient is sitting on a chair at a hospital in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)

A Seoul-based restaurant recently posted a notice on its Instagram page that it will not serve anyone taking part in the nationwide medical strike, which has been continuing since the mass walkout by the country's trainee doctors in February.

The owners of the Italian restaurant based in Mapo-gu, one recommended in the Michelin Guide Seoul & Busan 2024, said they will refuse service for the doctors on strike from "firm personal beliefs."

"For the time being, we will not serve those taking part in the medical strike. ... We will bear whatever disadvantages that will occur from now on," the restaurant said in its Instagram notice, thanking.

The post has gotten a little over likes and around 600 comments as of Monday, many of them negative. It was also bombarded with malicious comments on the Naver review page, most of which have been taken down by the filter service.

This screengrab shows a notice posted by a Seoul-based restaurant on Sunday, saying they refuse service to anyone taking part in the medical strike. (Instagram) This screengrab shows a notice posted by a Seoul-based restaurant on Sunday, saying they refuse service to anyone taking part in the medical strike. (Instagram)

As of Monday, the restaurant ratings via Google review is marking 2.1 out of five stars. All publicly listed Google reviews were made the previous 24 hours.

In the notice page on Naver, the country's biggest search engine, the restaurant also decried the medical strike and accused the doctors of "abandoning their sense of duties."

Doctors here have been in a standoff with the government over the plan to increase the number of medical school enrollment quota by 2,000, leading to disruptions in medical care across the country. The government took a step back last week by proposing the state-run university to voluntarily adjust a number of newly increased quota -- within the 50 to 100 percent range of the government-allocated numbers -- but the medical circles have remained steadfast.

Im Hyun-taek, the president-elect of the Korean Medical Association, told local media that it is the KMA's official position "not to allow (the enrollment hike) by a single person."

The vacuum left by the medical strike has resulted in severe hindrance for patients to receive medical care, particularly those in need of emergency care. There have been several news stories over the past few months of emergency patients suffering from late treatment due to a lack of doctors.

Last week, a woman in her 60s died in South Gyeongsang Province when hospitals in her region refused to take her, saying they did not have the medical staff that could provide the necessary care. Her ambulance had spent hours on the road looking for a hospital with medical staff, before her eventual death.