The trend of body donation for education based on Korean social and religious culture

Authors

  • Jong-Tae Park,

    1. Department of Oral Biology, Division in Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Human Identification Research Center, Brain Korea 21 Project, Yonsei University College of Dentistry, Seoul, South Korea
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Yoonsun Jang,

    1. University of Pennsylvania, College of Arts and Science, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Min Sun Park,

    1. University of the Pacific, College of Pacific, Stockton, California
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Calvin Pae,

    1. Harvard University, School of Dental Medicine, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jinyi Park,

    1. Department of Oral Biology, Division in Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Human Identification Research Center, Brain Korea 21 Project, Yonsei University College of Dentistry, Seoul, South Korea
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kyung-Seok Hu,

    1. Department of Oral Biology, Division in Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Human Identification Research Center, Brain Korea 21 Project, Yonsei University College of Dentistry, Seoul, South Korea
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jin-Seo Park,

    1. Department of Anatomy, Dongguk University College of Medicine, Gyeongju, South Korea
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Seung-Ho Han,

    1. Department of Anatomy, Catholic Institute for Applied Anatomy (SHH), College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, South Korea
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ki-Seok Koh,

    1. Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Hee-Jin Kim

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Oral Biology, Division in Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Human Identification Research Center, Brain Korea 21 Project, Yonsei University College of Dentistry, Seoul, South Korea
    • Department of Oral Biology, Room 601, Yonsei University College of Dentistry, 250 Seongsanno, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752, South Korea
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Until a century ago, Korean medicine was based mainly on Oriental philosophies and ideas. From a religious perspective, Chinese Confucianism was prevalent in Korea at that time. Since Confucianists believe that it is against one's filial duty to harm his or her body, given to them by their parents, most Koreans did not donate their bodies or organs for education in the past. However, by the end of the 20th century, a unique fusion of Western and Oriental medicines were produced on the Korean Peninsula, revolutionizing traditional perspectives on the human body, mortality, and the relationship of medical science to society. Koreans began to think about others' lives as well as their own by realizing the importance of donating one's organs and bodies for scientific purposes. Since then, the number of people donating their bodies to Korean medical and dental schools for the purpose of improving academic learning has increased dramatically. In response, Korean medical schools have begun to hold various types of funeral ceremonies to honor body donors. We have compared such ceremonies performed in Korea with those performed in the United States of America and Taiwan. These ceremonies are viewed as a suitable way to pay proper respect to the dead and to promote knowledge about body donation programs in Korea. Overall, the transition of religions and social ethics in Korea has greatly facilitated body bequeathal programs, benefiting both medical education and the Korean public health administration. Anat Sci Educ. © 2011 American Association of Anatomists.

Ancillary