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MIDWIFERY STATUS AND EDUCATION IN KOREA: Historical and Governmental Influences


  • Mildred V. Waller MS, RN,

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    • Mildred V. Waller is a retired health planning consultant from the Colorado Department of Health. She has a BSN degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a MS degree from the University of Colorado. After World War II she served with the United States Military Government in Korea, charged with the reconstruction of nursing and midwifery in South Korea. Since then she has been engaged in teaching and research in maternal and child health and in health services for the elderly. She completed a year of post-master's study at the University of California, Berkeley where she had a fellowship with the Maternal and Child health Research Unit.

  • Oak Soon Hong MED, RN

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    • Oak Soon Hong is a retired nursing educator and administrator in nursing and midwifery programs in South Korea. She is a graduate of Severance Hospital School of Nursing (and Midwifery) in Seoul, Korea and holds a BSW degree from Choong Ang Seminary and an MEd degree from Yonsei University, both in Seoul. In addition, she pursued post-graduate studies in Australia, Japan, and the United States. She was the Korean Chief of Nursing Affairs, Department of Health and Welfare, United States Army Military Government in Korea (later the Republic of Korea). She was also the Director of the Child Placement Service. Her last position was that of Director and Chairman of the Kyung Hee University School of Nursing in Seoul.

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This paper recounts the history of midwifery in Korea starting from the earliest times when annual tribute missions from Peking brought Confucian philosophies that influenced health care in illness and in pregnancy. At the turn of the twentieth century, missionaries introduced Western-style medical care and education, only to have it all but disappear during the period of Japanese occupation of the country. After World War II, an interim United States Military Government brought a revitalization of all government services, bringing suffrage privileges to women, as well as public recognition. Medical, nursing, and midwifery education and services were modernized. Although the Korean War brought temporary reversal, nursing and midwifery have advanced beyond that of most third world countries.