SEOUL, March 10 (Korea Bizwire) – As Severance Hospital, which has earned worldwide attention recently by treating US Ambassador Mark Lippert, stresses that it is the legitimate successor of Jejungwon, Korea’s first national western-style hospital, Seoul National University Hospital, its main rival, suffers in silence.
In a briefing session explaining the physical condition of Ambassador Lippert on March 9, Severance Hospital publically announced that “Jejungwon is the ancestor of Severance Hospital”, and elaborated on the relationship between the hospital and the State of Ohio, where the ambassador hails from.
Jung Nam-shik, head of the Yonsei University Health System, the operator of Severance Hospital, said, “Horace Newton Allen, the founder of Jejungwon, was from Delaware, Ohio, and Luis Severance, who changed the name of Jejungwon to Severance Hospital, also came from Cleveland, Ohio. Our hospital seems to have close ties with Ohio.”
Jejungwon was the first modern hospital in Korea, and was inaugurated during the Joseon dynasty in 1885. King Gojong established the institution as the first national hospital, at the request of Doctor Allen.
It is reasonable for Severance Hospital to argue that it is Jejungwon’s legitimate successor, as it was established at the request of Allen, and run by American missionaries.
However, Seoul National University Hospital is countering Severance’s argument by saying that as Jejungwon was the first ‘national hospital,’ it and other national hospitals should be considered as the true successors of Jejungwon.
Under this climate of discord, Severance Hospital had a chance to publically announce that it was the heir of Jejungwon in the wave of publicity following its care of Ambassador Lippert.
Given the circumstances, Seoul National University Hospital could not remain silent. An official at the national hospital said, “We agree that Doctor Allen contributed significantly to the establishment and operation of Jejungwon. However, we cannot agree to Severance’s argument saying that it is the successor of Jejungwon.”
By John Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)