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Striking South Korean doctors defy return-to work orders

SOUTH KOREAN doctors defied return-to-work orders to take part in a one-day strike action today as part of continued industrial action against plans to boost medical school admissions.

Since February, more than 12,000 trainee doctors have been on strike in a deepening standoff with government officials, who want to grow the country’s number of doctors by up to 10,000 by 2035.

Many reject the plan, saying schools would not be able to handle the increased flow and that the quality of the country’s medical services would suffer.

Speaking at a rally to thousands of doctors in Seoul, Korean Medical Association leader Lim Hyun Taek said he will push for its members to enter an indefinite strike on June 27 if the government rejects its demands to completely scrap the plans.

In a cabinet meeting, President Yoon Suk Yeol called the months-long strike “regrettable” and warned that his government will sternly respond to “illegal activities that abandon patients.”

Government officials earlier threatened to suspend the licences of the striking doctors but later halted those administrative steps to facilitate dialogue.

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