Korean Medicine

System & Service

System and Services
in Korean Pharmaceutical

Korean government's thorough Korean medicine system
management and education system

Education track to become
a Korean Medicine doctor

There are 11 Traditional Korean Medicine colleges (six-year course) and one Professional
Graduate School of Korean Medicine for Korean Medicine practitioners.

  • Traditional Korean
    Medicine college
    (6 years)
    Professional Graduate
    School of Korean
    Medicine
    (4 years)

  • Pre-Med: 2 years
    Med School: 4 years
    (Total: 6 years)

  • National Exam
    (Once in a year)

  • pass

  • Internship 1 year
    residency 3 years
    (Total: 4 years)

  • TKM doctor
    Specialist
    Certificate Exam
    (Once in a year)

  • pass

  • Admission

  • University

  • Exam

  • General
    Practitioner

  • Practice
    for specialist

  • Exam

  • Specialist

The education system for Korean
Medicine at the university level

Pursuant to Article 25 (Duration of Course) paragraph 1 of the Enforcement Decree of the Higher Education Act, when the duration of bachelor's degree course in a college of Traditional Korean Medicine is six years, the degree course shall consist of a *two-year premedical course and a **four-year basic and regular medical course.

Professional Graduate School of Korean Medicine (4 years)

[Acquisition of Masters degree] 1) Bachelors course (4-year) + 4-year Korean Medicine education
2) Bachelors course (3-year) connected with 4-year Korean Medicine education

* Pre-Med course classes: Korean Medicine related cultural subjects (Chinese language reading, Oriental Philosophy, etc.), Korean Medicine basic theory classes (Classics of Oriental Medicine, Medicinal Herbology i.e. Pharmaceutical Botany, etc.) and basic medical classes (Biochemistry, Histology, Anatomy, etc.)

** Medical course classes: Classes for clinical prior knowledge in Western medicine (Physiology, Pathology, Diagnostics, and Pharmacology) and in Korean medicine (Physiology, Pathology, Medicinal Herbology, Herbal Prescription, Diagnostics, and Meridian and Acupoints), and clinical practice classes for areas of specialisation (Internal Medicine, Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Gynecology, Pediatrics, Neuropsychiatry, Otolaryngology, Sasang Constitutional Medicine(SCM), etc.)

Evaluation and Accreditation of Korean Medicine Education

  • IKMEE (Institute of Korean Medicine Education & Evaluation), established in 2005, and acknowledged by Ministry of Education as an institute for the education, certification and evaluation of Korean Medicine, promotes standardization and improved quality of Korean Medicine education.

The education system for Korean
pharmacy at the university level

Annually, 40 students graduate from three Traditional Korean Pharmacy colleges across the country,
a total of about 120 Korean Medicine pharmacists nationwide are produced.

  • Only Traditional Korean Pharmacy graduates can take the qualifying examination for Korean Medicine pharmacist license.

Bachelor's course

  • Herbal Prescription, Medicinal Herbology, Herbal Processology, General Chemistry,
    General Biology, Pharmacognosy, Physiology, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutics,
    Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Organic Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Analysis,
    Immunology, Natural Products Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Biochemistry,
    Pharmaceutical Instrumental Analysis, Biopharmaceutics, Preventive Pharmaceutics,
    Molecular Biology, Pharmaceutical Microbiology, and Anatomy.

Master's course

  • Medicinal Statistics, Principle of Instrumental Analytics, Advanced Antibiotic Chemistry,
    Chromatography, Pathogenic Microorganism, Plant Pigments, Advanced Development
    of Medicines, Animal Cytology, Herbal Medicine Preparations, Advanced Hygienic Chemistry,
    Molecular Genetics, Design of Dosage Form, Principle of Toxicology, etc.

License system for
Korean Medicine doctors

Eligibility for the national licensing exam

  • A bachelor's degree holder who has graduated from a university or college with a major in oriental medical science
  • A master's or a doctor's degree holder who has graduated from a professional graduate school with a major in oriental
    medical science
  • A person who has graduated from a foreign school that is accredited by the Minister of Health and Welfare in
    conformity with the aforementioned subparagraph 1 or 2; has been licensed as a oriental medical doctor from the
    competent foreign authority; and has passed the relevant preliminary exam*
  • A bachelor's degree holder who has graduated from a foreign school with a major in oriental medical science that was
    accredited by then Minister of Health and Social Affairs on July 8th, 1994; and has passed the relevant preliminary exam*

* Preliminary examination system: a pre-trial examination conducted before the National Examination for those who wish to obtain a national license after graduation from a foreign health medical college (medical college, dental college, etc.)

Overview of the National Exam for
Korean Medicine doctor
  • Enforcement:

    Pursuant to Article 9 (national examinations) of the Medical Service Act, the Minister of Health and Welfare shall annually hold national examinations for oriental medical doctors.

  • Subjects:

    Internal Medicine, Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Gynecology, Pediatrics, Surgery, Neuropsychiatry, Otolaryngology, Medicinal Herbology, Korean Medicinal Physiology, Preventive Medicine, and Health and Medicine laws

  • Format:

    multiple choice (five choices), 380 questions (1 point/1 question), 355 minutes (test time)

  • Passing criteria:

    Those who have scored more than 60 percent of the total score in all subjects and 40 percent or more in each subject. (Provided, that three subject sections consisting of individual subjects are divided as following: Gynecology and Pediatrics; Surgery, Otolaryngology, and Neuropsychiatry; and Medicinal Herbology, Korean Medicinal Physiology, and Preventive Medicine.)

Granting of a Traditional Korean Medicine doctor's license

  • Pursuant to Article 5 (Licenses for Physicians, Dentists or Oriental Medical Doctors) of Medical Service Law,
    a person who intends to become an oriental medical doctor shall be licensed by the Minister of Health and Welfare after
    passing the relevant national examination.

License system for Korean
Medicine pharmacists

Definition of Traditional Korean Medicine pharmacist

  • Pursuant to Article 2 (Definitions) paragraph 2 of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, "pharmacist" is stipulated as a person who is in charge of matters concerning pharmaceutical affairs (including those concerning herbal medications), other than those concerning herbal drugs; and who is licensed by the Minister of Health and Welfare.

Eligibility for national licensing exam

1. A person who has graduated from herb pharmacy in a college, and received a bachelor's degree in herbal pharmacy
2. Those who have completed more than 95 credits of herbal medicine related subjects stipulated in each of the following sections

  • Those who have been attending a college majoring in pharmacology as of March 6th, 1997, who entered the college in 1996 school year or before,
  • Those who have completed a college majoring in pharmacology as of March 6th, 1997, or
  • Those who were attending a college other than a college majoring in pharmacology as of March 6th, 1997, who entered the college in 1996 or before, and who have finished the college other than a college majoring in pharmacology.
Overview of the National Exam for
Korean Medicine pharmacist
  • Enforcement:

    National examinations for oriental medicine pharmacist licenses shall be administered annually by the Korea Health Personnel Licensing Examination Institute which the Minister of Health and Welfare commissioned to administer such exam.

  • Subjects:

    Basic Oriental Herbal Pharmacy, the Health‧Medical laws, and Advanced Oriental Herbal Pharmacy
    ※ Laws on health and medicine area: Enforcement Decree and Enforcement Rules on legal act such as 「Phamaceutical Affairs Act」, 「Narcotics Control Act」, 「National Health Promotion Act」, 「Framework Act on Health and Medical Services」, and 「Health Functional Foods Act」, and Korean Pharmacopoeia

  • Format:

    multiple choice (five choices), 250 questions (1 point/1 question), 200 minutes (test time)

  • Passing criteria:

    Those who have score more than 60% of the total score in all subjects and 40% or more in each subject.

Standard Manufacturing and Quality
Control
Criteria for Korean Medicinal Herbs

Operating a management system for quality assurance and distribution of Korean herbal medicines, etc.

  • Based on the「Phamaceutical Affairs Act」, 「Regulation on Safety of Drugs, Etc.」, relevant standards on quality control and manufacturing of Korean medicinal herbs (GMP, Good Manufacture Practice)was prepared with lawful grounds in 2012.
  • In 2015, 'Standards on Manufacturing and Quality Control for Korean Medicinal Herbs' became a mandatory requirement.
  • Pursuant to the amended version of 「Enforcement Rules on the Medical Service Act」 (September 5th, 2008), requirements for facility criteria and standards of herbal dispensaries were added in order to secure safe supply of Korean herbal medicines.
    * Convalescent hospitals and Korean Medicine hospitals and clinics are obligated to establish a herbal dispensary.
  • ‘Guideline on Installation and Utilization of Extramural Herbal Pharmaceutical Preparation Facility and Shared-use of Herbal Pharmaceutical Preparation Facility (May 2009)’came into effect, in a purpose to making more strict facility criteria and standards for management of herbal dispensaries.
The current status of Korean herbal medicine market
in domestic pharmaceutical industry

In 2019, a total 1,307 of Korean herbal medicine items were approved/notified, accounting for 21.1%
out of the entire 6,187 drug items which is approved/notified in 2019.

* Drug products: 77.7% (4,809 items), Drug substances: 1.2% (71 items), Herbal substances: 21.1% (1,307 items)

The number of approved/notified items increased by 3.6 times in 2019 (946 items) compared to the 361 of those in 2018,
due to an increase in item notifications from newly established manufacturers

  • In 2019, 56 items of herbal medicinal products (including herbal substances) were approved.

*Herbal medicinal preparations approved in 2019 were a total of 56 items. As compared with 27 items in 2015, 31 items in 2016, 44 items in 2017 and 42 items in 2018, the number was increased by 107.4%, 80.7%, 27.3% and 33.3% respectively (Refer to Page 89 of the attached file).

Korean Medicine management system
under the 「Medical Device Act」

The manufacture, import, and sales of medical devices follow relevant management provisions in the 「Medical Device Act」.

  • There are various medical device types including Low frequency stimulator, Sphygmograph, Pulse wave analyser, Skin resistance measuring device, Acupuncture, Cupping device, and Moxibustion Apparatus.
  • A total of 10 Korean Standards (KS) on Korean Medicine relevant items, including KS P ISO 17218, Dispensable Sterilized Acupuncture, are confirmed and applied to target items.

Korean Medicine devices are exported to the global market, recording about 14.7 million USD of sales in 2018 and 3.1% of YoY increase, and acupuncture raised the highest sales in the year with a number of 8.53 million USD.

Health insurance system of Korean Medicine

Scope of health insurance coverage over Korean Medicine treatments

  • Medical diagnosis fees (consultation fees, hospitalization fees), examination fees (fees for skin resistance tests, pulse tests, meridians fees, other additional function tests, etc.), medical care fees (treatment fees for acupuncture, moxibustion, and cupping) fees for enema services, fees for bathing and general treatment, drug, prescription, and synthetic treatment fees (56 different treatments composed of 68 of herbal drugs)), Chuna, thermal therapy, packaged herbal medicine

Current status of Korean Medicine institutions

Korean Medicine hospitals and clinics

(unit: n, %)

Year Total Korean medicine institutions
Subtotal (%) Hospitals Clinics
2001 40,287 7,630(18.3) 131 7,499
2002 44,029 8,232(18.7) 135 8,097
2003 45,771 8,885(19.4) 151 8,734
2004 47,378 9,350(19.7) 154 9,196
2005 49,566 9,911(20.0) 146 9,765
2006 51,286 10,436(20.3) 142 10,294
2007 52,914 11,033(20.9) 138 10,895
2008 54,165 11,387(21.0) 139 11,248
2009 55,799 11,856(21.3 ) 151 11,705
2010 56,244 11,963(21.3) 159 11,804
2011 58,496 12,483(21.3) 178 12,305
2012 59,519 12,639(21.2) 199 12,440
2013 60,899 13,019(21.4) 203 12,816
2014 63,675 13,369(21.0) 234 13,135
2015 63,419 13,865(21.9) 260 13,605
2016 64,999 14,142(21.8) 282 13,860
2017 66,631 14,467(21.7) 312 14,155
2018 67,847 14,636(21.6) 307 14,329

Annual statistics of Korean medicine institutions

Note :

The total number of medical institutions includes hospitals (general hospitals, convalescent hospital, hospitals), clinics, special hospital (tuberculosis hospital, leprosy hospital, mental health hospital), dental hospitals and dental clinics, Korean Medicine hospitals and Korean Medicine clinics, auxiliary medical institutions (i.e. an auxiliary medical institution for providing health care to employees of companies or business, according to Article 35 of the 「Medical Service Act」, quoted from 「2019 Ministry of health and welfare statistical year book」) and midwifery clinics.

The ratio that Korean Medicine institutions account for in the total medical institutions

Data :

Ministry of Health and Welfare; 「2019 Ministry of health and welfare statistical year book」