Doctors Leave Correctional Facilities amid Poor Wages and Prisoner Lawsuits | Be Korea-savvy

Doctors Leave Correctional Facilities amid Poor Wages and Prisoner Lawsuits

A Detention Center in Busan. (Yonhap)

A Detention Center in Busan. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, April 16 (Korea Bizwire)South Korean doctors working at correctional facilities such as prisons and detention centers are suffering from poor working conditions and frequent lawsuits by prisoners.

The number of general practitioners and specialists working at South Korean correctional facilities totaled 89 as of February, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Given that the quota of doctors for the nation’s correction facilities is 117, the vacancy rate is about 24 percent.

Over the past five years, the vacancy rate has averaged 20.8 percent, indicating that the shortage of medical workers in correctional facilities is a chronic problem.

The primary reason why doctors avoid working in correctional facilities is the low wages despite a heavy workload.

According to a report released in 2017 by the state-run Korea Institution of Criminology, the average wage of doctors working in correction facilities is equivalent to about 50 to 60 percent of the normal wages of doctors working at private general hospitals.

Nonetheless, their workload is on an upward trend. According to 2020 statistics compiled by the justice ministry, the number of medical treatment cases at correctional facilities rose to 9.18 million cases in 2019 from 6.99 million cases in 2014.

Another reason is frequent lawsuits from prisoners. Most of these suits are filed by those who have a grudge against correctional officials.

In fact, the number of suits filed by prisoners against correctional officials stood at 1,886 in 2019, of which only one case resulted in an indictment.

H. M. Kang (

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