By Sangmi Cha
SEOUL (Reuters) – Thousands of South Korean trainee doctors went on strike on Friday, protesting outside parliament against a government plan to boost the number of medical students in the country, arguing it would be a poor use of additional funding for the sector.
The government said its goal to increase the number of medical students by 4,000 over the next 10 years was necessary to better prepare for public health crises like the coronavirus pandemic.
The student doctors, however, said extra funding would be better spent improving the salaries of existing trainees, which would encourage them to move out of Seoul to rural areas where more professionals are needed.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun had urged the intern and resident doctors to call off the 24-hour strike, which comes as South Korea battles smaller but persistent clusters of COVID-19 infections.
“It is very concerning that a medical