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Global health

South Korea: TKM works to restore body balance

by Jungsoon Choi
Biostatistics & Epidemiology
South Korea, with the official name the Republic of Korea, is located on the south part of the Korean Peninsula. The population of South Korea is about 49 million and its official language is Korean, which was promulgated by Sejong the Great in the 15th century. Ethnically, South Korea is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world with more than 98 percent of inhabitants having Korean ethnicity.
Traditional Korean Medicine (TKM) is getting popular worldwide, and many people from around the world have visited Korea to get health treatment services. The basic principle of TKM is that all body organs are interconnected by channels so illness is not a problem with a particular part of the body but rather an imbalance of energy in the entire body. Thus, the goal of TKM is restoring balance in the body.
TKM originated in ancient times, about 5,000 years ago. TKM has been influenced by Chinese medicine, but it also has developed its own features. In 1613, Jun Heo wrote “Donguibogam,” consisting of 25 volumes, which is one of the famous medicine books in Korea. This book presented not only the Korean medical theories of the time but also medical theories from all over East Asia. It covers how to prevent disease and serves as the basis of medical practices and also introduces healthy foods. In 2009, “Donguibogam” was added to the world heritage List of UNESCO, which was the first time ever for a medical book. This book has spread to East Asia and still is widely used as one of the main textbooks for modern traditional Korean medical students.

In the 19th century, the Sasang typology, written by Jae-ma Lee, divided people into four different types based on their traits and emotion, and developed treatments for each type. This explained the individual differences in behavioral patterns, physical characteristics and susceptibility to a certain disease based on their bio-psychological traits. This Sasang typology is a unique theory in TKM and has been used as a major treatment regimen.
There are several treatments in TKM, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, aroma therapy, and meditation. Recently, many studies in TKM have demonstrated therapeutic effects, its underlying mechanism and the association with genetic variations.

Facts about South Korea
  • Life expectancy is 75 years for males and 82 years for females (2005).
  • The annual birth rate is approximately nine births per 1,000 people, which is the world’s lowest rate.
  • South Korea has the world’s highest estimated national IQ, with leading rankings in mathematics, science, problem solving and reading, as declared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  • Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog (Afghan Hound), was created at Seoul National University.
  • The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea developed the world’s second walking humanoid robot, HUBO.
  • The eldest in the house is considered the most wise.
  • When you enter a South Korean home, the first thing you do is remove your shoes.
  • When the first night of the new year comes, everybody hides their shoes. This is because there is a belief that a ghost will come down and try on everyone’s shoes. If the ghost finds a pair it likes, it will take them. It is thought that the owner of the shoes will then have bad luck for the whole year.
  • Taxi cabs are color coded. Hail a grey or white taxi and you get a basic car with a less experienced but still fully qualified driver. Choose a black cab and get a bit more luxury and a more experienced driver. But it costs you a few more Won.
  • A traditional Korean roof curves up with a smile.
Clinician’s corner
 One of your patients is traveling to S. Korea to visit friends and relatives. He asks about his chances of becoming infected with avian influenza H5N1 during his trip and wants to know how to protect himself. Which of the following statements about avian influenza is not correct?

A. It has been confirmed in S. Korea in birds
B. Currents influenza vaccines are protective
C. Oseltamivir is effective
D. Well-cooked chicken is safe to eat

The answer is B. Current incluenza vaccines do not protect against avian influenza. To protect exposure to this virus, it is recommended to avoid live animal markets and poultry farms where direct contact with the birds and their secretions is a big risk. Treatment with the antiviral oseltamivir is effective, especially if started early in the course of infection.

Upcomng Events
New! International Book Club
Begins at 6 p.m., Oct. 6
Harper Student Center Library, Suite 224 Open to all MUSC students and postdocs

Charleston History Walking Tour
7 -9:30 p.m., Oct. 14
Meet at the Circular Fountain downtown
$10 tickets on sale now in Student Programs Open to MUSC internationals

Fright Nights @ Boone Hall
7 p.m., Oct. 17
Meet at Boone Hall Farms Field
$8 tickets on sale Oct. 4, Office of Student Programs Open to MUSC internationals

Visit or Facebook: MUSC International Programs

Friday, Oct. 1, 2010

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