[KS] Re: gynecologists

Peter Mauro Schroepfer schroepf at yonsei.ac.kr
Tue Aug 29 14:13:31 EDT 2000

REPLY sends your message to the whole list

This discussion does not in my view seem to be going anywhere constructive
right now, but recent experience with this issue has kept me thinking about
it again so I'm adding my blabber, too.

The sociologists on the List will may want to add more to this but it seems
to me that Korea has been going through somewhat of a transormation over the
last year or so when it comes to the general culture surrounding birth.

Last year a well known kasu (ch'oe jOngwOn) allowed the entire process of
her child's water birth to be shown on television, and this is said to be
the first ever water birth in Korea. Those in the baby business say that
hosptials are being flooded with inquiries as to whether or not they do this
(Hanyang U. Hosptial became the first on September 21, 1999). She has since
become a poster girl for baby-related products.

In July it was announced that Korea has the highest rate of Caesarean
operations in the whole wide world, some 43 percent!!!&@^$*!@($&!@!!!. Yes,
that's right, that's not one of my typical typos, I mean fourty three
percent!! I won't quote all the reasons they say this is so high, but
ultimately the reason is that not enough people think it a problem.... but
the very fact that this startiling fact was given so much press means that
an improvement will come soon (-er than later), and the day after these
statistics were announced, womens' groups were holding demonstrations in
front of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, demanding that hospitals with
especially high Caesarean rates should be among other things audited (one in
Cheju was something above 80%).  Here's more in English:

My wife and I just gave birth to a little girl two months ago: sadly, in the
first few weeks afterwards we were often asked "Boy or girl?" followed by
"Natural birth or not?"

Most will agree that birth culture is not exactly wholesome here... but
since it is not just "ethnocentric" foreigners who think this there are
plenty of alternatives to the usual hospital routine and I would encourage
anyone giving birth to not give up hope. In Seoul, at least, there do exist
options that you may have to travel to the other side of the city for but
that are very "family oriented" in their approach.

This site has a helpful area where women rate gynecological clinics. They
used to give clinics "report cards," don't know if they use this rating
system anymore: http://www.ausung.net/

An interesting water birth page:

Soonchunhyang [sic] Hospital has a special clinic where we probably would
have tried to go had we known better at the time, as friends foreign and
domestic giving birth have since recommended it. The Seoul International
Womens Association is rumored to have lists of recommended doctors:

I must say I was also quite surprised by the tone of the first
"gynecologists" post, but then I, too, felt the kind of rage I didn't know I
had in me during much of the ordeal of winning the basic human right of
being present when our daughter was born two months ago. I fought very hard
for this, and there were moments during the contraction days that it looked
like it wasn't going to happen. In the end I was able to stay through the
whole event not because of thoughtful hosptial policy, but because our
doctor arrived and happened to be not only the head doctor but also a
seonbae of mine from university AND he happened to be on duty and know
personally. In other words, pure luck. Even after being hit a time or two by
professional thugs ("policemen") as an undergrad I never felt as ready to
lash out as I did with some of the nurses and staff who treated me as an
obstacle that should wait outside playing paduk or read the sports papers
with the other husbands (and mothers-in-law demanding to know the sex of the
child ASAP, really quite a scene to behold) and while treating my wife as a
piece of meat on a conveyor belt that should get herself moving along, only
to then to have the nurses in the nursery think her arrogant for insisting
on breast feeding. I think it was only the fact that it was the happiest day
of my life that kept me from really yelling at someone. My advice to Mr.
Savenije... don't leave Korea, just find a place that will let you know what
your rights are, both you and your wife. We'd do it again without going
elsewhere, just at another clinic. 

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list