Calls for resignation of Ajou director

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Calls for resignation of Ajou director

Professors of Ajou University’s School of Medicine issued a statement on Thursday demanding the director of Ajou University Medical Center make a public apology and step down amid allegations that he verbally abused Dr. Lee Cook-jong, the celebrated head of the hospital’s trauma center.

On Monday afternoon, local broadcaster MBC reported on part of a transcript of a conversation between Lee and Ryu Hee-sug, director of Ajou University Medical Center, in which Ryu verbally attacked Lee.

“We were completely astounded that Lee was the victim of serious verbal abuse by Ryu,” the statement read. “Verbal abuse is never acceptable, regardless of the circumstances. It is a prime example of workplace bullying.”

The professors also added that it was an undeniable fact that Dr. Lee has greatly contributed to raising the hospital’s reputation. Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, Gyeonggi, was included in the list of 100 of the world’s best hospitals selected by Newsweek, a weekly American magazine, last year.

“We are ashamed of the fact that the director of the medical center, who has a duty to punish the perpetrator, is the actual assailant,” the statement added.

They also requested the hospital to “come up with some countermeasures and develop a system that can prevent workplace bullying” as soon as possible.

Ryu’s term as director of Ajou University Medical Center ends next month.

Ryu on Wednesday denied the allegations surrounding him and said “the conversation was just a scolding to encourage Lee to work more diligently and earnestly.”

Lee, however, argued that the hospital’s treatment of his has been unacceptable during an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday.

“Ryu never said anything to me about my medical practice,” Lee said. “If he verbally abused me because of my insincere attitude toward patients, I deserved to be criticized. But he doesn’t even care how I treat patients.”

“He can’t do this to me when I’m working hard to treat patients with traumatic injuries for the hospital,” added Lee.

Lee saved the life of the captain of the freighter Samho Jewelry, who was shot by Somalian pirates during a rescue mission, and the North Korean who was riddled with bullets while defecting via the demilitarized zone in 2017.

BY CHEA SARAH, CHOI MO-RAN [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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