Dispute over acupuncture needle found in Roh

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Dispute over acupuncture needle found in Roh


An X-ray shows an acupuncture needle lodged in former President Roh Tae-woo’s right lung. Provided by Seoul National University Hospital

The mystery behind how a seven-centimeter (2.75 inch) acupuncture needle ended up in former President Roh Tae-woo’s right lung has caused controversy after it was reported that an unlicensed acupuncturist, who was educated under the famous acupuncturist Kim Nam-soo, 96, used the needle while treating the ailing ex-president.

On Tuesday, an SBS current affairs program reported that “the needle that was removed from former President Roh’s right lung is the type of needle used at Tmsarang, [a training center for acupuncturists], and it appears a female student of Kim Nam-soo, who is the director of the institute, was engaged in the treatment.”

According to the broadcast, the acupuncture needle normally used in oriental medical clinics in Korea is different from the pipe-type needle removed from Roh.

There are two types of acupuncture needles used in Korea: coil type and pipe type. According to the Association of Korean Oriental Medicine, 95 percent of all oriental medicine doctors use coil-type needles, while the rest use the pipe type. Most pipe-type needles are used by Tmsarang.

The AKOM said Kim is considered to be “unlicensed” because he only has an acupuncture license but not a moxibustion license, which involves heating acupuncture needles with the mugwort herb, or moxa. In 2008, the AKOM filed a lawsuit against Kim for engaging in illegal medical practices, and Kim’s acupuncture license was suspended for six weeks.

After learning acupuncture from his father at the age of 11, Kim established his own acupuncture clinic in 1943.

He gained fame for offering acupuncture treatment to former President Kim Young-sam, who reportedly praised Kim’s skills. Kim was engaged in acupuncture treatment until he retired in 2008.

In response to the news reports blaming Kim’s student for the Roh incident, the Association of Korean Oriental Medicine called a press conference yesterday to demand legal measures to root out illegal medical practices, especially in the field of oriental medicine.

AKOM said that “The government should prohibit sales of acupuncture needles, which are medical instruments, to the public,” and requested that the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and the Ministry of Health and Welfare investigate illegal acupuncture practitioners.

Tmsarang responded by saying “the media reports are not true and it is a deliberate attempt to malign us.”

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
구당 "침 논란, 노 전 대통령이 진실 밝혀야"
한의사협회는 검찰에 수사요구 진정서 제출키로
노태우 전 대통령의 몸속에서 발견된 한방 침(鍼) 논란이 계속되는 가운데 침 시술을 했다는 의혹을 받고 있는 구당 김남수씨가 11일 "노태우 전 대통령 측에서 누가 침 시술을 했는지를 직접 밝혀야 한다"는 입장을 밝혔다.

이는 한의사협회가 노 전 대통령 측에 '침 시술의 주체'를 밝히라고 요구한 데 이어 나온 것으로 앞으로 노 전 대통령 측이 어떻게 대응할지 주목된다. 앞서 일부 언론에서는 구당 김남수씨의 여성 제자가 침은 놓은 것으로 보인다고 보도한 바 있다.

김남수씨는 이날 연합뉴스와의 전화통화에서 "내가 노 전 대통령의 초청을 받아 몇 차례 진료를 한 적은 있지만, 이는 대통령 퇴임 후 얼마 지나지 않았을 때의 일"이라며 "그 이후에는 (침)시술은 물론이고 노 전 대통령을 만나지도 않았다"고 주장했다.

김씨는 이어 "일부에서 내 제자가 침을 놓았다고 주장하는 내용을 듣긴 했지만, 그게 사실인지는 나도 모르는 일"이라며 "지금까지 내가 배출한 수많은 제자 가운데 누가 노 전 대통령과 알고 지냈고, 침을 놓았는지 어떻게 알 수 있겠느냐"고 반문했다.

그는 이어 "결국 이번 논란이 해결되려면 노 전 대통령 측에서 모든 진실을 직접 밝히는 수밖에 없다"면서 "진실이 규명돼 논란이 해결되기를 바랄 뿐"이라고 덧붙였다.

한편 노 전 대통령 비서실과 서울대병원 측에 침 시술자를 밝히기 위한 공동조사단 구성을 제안했던 대한한의사협회는 조사단 구성이 결렬되자 이날 오후 시술자에 대한 수사와 법적 조치를 요구하는 진정서를 검찰에 제출할 방침이다.
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