Eggs, fish sauce thrown at KMA head

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Eggs, fish sauce thrown at KMA head

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A meeting of the Korean Medical Association turned into a melee on Saturday when several doctors turned violent and threw eggs at the president of the association.

The chaotic scene took place at a special meeting that was held to determine the details of the KMA’s indirect election system for selecting its presidents. As Kyung Man-ho, president of the KMA, walked to the dais to deliver an opening speech, members of the National Union of Korean Medical Doctors descended on him, throwing raw eggs and fish sauce and kicking him while hurling insults.

The union members have been said to oppose the KMA’s new presidential election system, which was changed from a direct election to an indirect one in April 2010. Several eggs were thrown right at Kyung’s face, and the meeting came to a halt as union members trying to get at Kyung and KMA officials trying to block them squared off in front of the dais.

Kyung was escorted out of the meeting room and was unable to finish his address.

The union has also expressed anger at the KMA for failing to stop the government’s plan to implement a new policy tentatively called the “medical clinic selection system,” which is set to go into effect in April 2012.

The new policy, drawn up by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, attempts to strengthen the health care management of patients with chronic diseases. Under the government’s new policy, medical consultation fees for chronic disease patients, such as hypertension and diabetes, would be reduced if patients select a medical clinic to visit regularly. The proposed policy, however, has received criticism from some medical doctors, who say the new rules would restrict market entry for new medical clinics.

Kyung is known to be a close acquaintance of President Lee Myung-bak. When Lee was mayor of Seoul, Kyung served as head of the KMA’s Seoul chapter. Kyung then served on an advisory committee in the president’s transition team. Many in the medical community believe that such activities helped Kyung be elected as president of the KMA in May 2009.

The KMA on Sunday condemned in a release the “outrageous violence” that took place at the meeting, saying that it would “file a complaint to the ethics commission and will request an expulsion [from the KMA] and will also do everything possible to handle the issue head on by taking legal actions.”

Noh Hwan-gyu, head of the medical doctors’ union, said, “The act of throwing eggs was the minimal expression of our anger,” adding that he would run for president of the KMA in the next election.


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

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