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Pushing for Systemization and Standardization of Korea’s Chiropractic

- A New Medical Philosophy for Societal Health and Happiness

  • Friday, August 16, 2019, 9:21 pm
  • ACROFAN=Jae-Yong Ryu
The term ‘Chiropractic’ may yet be an unfamiliar word to most of the population. Over 30 years have passed since chiropractic was first introduced to Korea, however, it lingers in a shameful state where non-experts still practice indiscriminately while experts from other medical fields distort the terms, causing misinformation to spread to the public.

On top of that, doctors and Korean oriental Medical Doctors who apply chiropractic knowledge still maintain a defensive position on institutionalizing chiropractic and are further building a confrontational stage. Amidst this confusion, Chairman An Jun Yong of the Korean Chiropractic Association, who previously practiced medicine as the director of the Center for Advancement of Immunity-Spinal Nerve Research Center, is taking on his fourth year as Chairman to continue his efforts in globalizing Korea’s chiropractic practices.

Chairman An Jun Yong, Korean Chiropractic Association

■ Institutionalization of Chiropractic Based on Professionalism Remains Absolute Necessity

The single biggest issue associated with the domestic chiropractic field would without doubt be institutionalization. Korea’s chiropractic history boasts over 30 years of practice and research; however, experts are yet restrained from active proactive practice due to the lack of legal evidence

“Chiropractic doctors are constantly struggling with the pressure of criminal suits because they’re not protected by legal evidence. This harsh reality makes it very difficult to call together professionals into a single organization. With the environment being so unfavorable, it’s hard to ask these doctors to stand up for the larger cause when their own livelihoods are on the line.”

While spending years actually curing many patients that modern and Korean medicine gave up on, Chairman An naturally began questioning the legal environment that was unusually harsh on chiropractic.

“Our members and I have always wished for our patients to live with health and happiness. However, it’s truly regrettable how we are being treated as criminals just for the fact that there is no legal evidence for chiropractic as a medical practice.”

On the other hand, doctors who use chiropractic knowledge and techniques are ironically under strong, legal protection.

“The government’s explanation is that “The use of chiropractic by doctors who are experts in the human body is safe.” However, Chairman An’s response is that the explanation is nonsensical when domestic chiropractic doctors are required to study over 4,200 hours for their Chiropractic degree whereas the doctors that the government and law support only go through a 30-hour short-term course.

This goes against the WHO’s report of guideline for chiropractic safety in 2006 which advises that chiropractic doctors should complete at least 2,200 hours of chiropractic education for their practice to be safe for the patients.

Chairman An stating his hopes for chiropractic doctors’ expertise to be acknowledged and backed by official legal medicinal evidence

■ Illegal for Expert with 4,200 Hours of Education, but Legal for Doctor with Nothing?

As its definition explains, chiropractors practice personalized physical examinations and diagnoses that fit each patient. On top of that, with rehabilitative and nutritional counsel included, chiropractic care is nothing short of a new field in general medicine.

Furthermore, a comparative analysis between minimum required hours for a U.S.-based chiropractic degree or a MD (Medical Degree) shows that a chiropractic degree requires around 150 hours more than a MD with 4,822 hours and 4,667 hours, respectively. If these standards are applied when chiropractic is brought into Korea, there is no reason to refute the professionalism and expertise of chiropractors.

Also, a study published on the February 15, 2015 issue of Spine, a medical journal, presented the odds of patients between ages 66 and 99, who visit their doctor for issues in their musculoskeletal system, suffering from injuries in either the head, neck, or torso within 7 days of visitation. According to the study, patients who were cared for by chiropractic doctors rather than general practitioners saw 76% lower odds of injuries.

For an accurate picture of the safety of a doctor’s practice and treatment, one only needs to observe the medical malpractice insurance premiums in countries where lawsuits are common- for example, the U.S. In 2011, ordinary doctors spent on average $24,500 per doctor on malpractice premiums while gynecologists spent $46,400 on average per doctor. On the other hand, chiropractors were only subject to $1,500 on average per doctor. In other words, there is no real basis for the misguided claims of unprofessionalism and threat of malpractice regarding chiropractic treatment.

“The KCA’s position is simple. Doctors and Korean Medical Doctors must be legally subject to 2,200 hours of education, as recommended by WHO, to use chiropractic treatment. Furthermore, the government must acknowledge the professionalism of chiropractors and thereby provide legal backing as official medical practitioners. The current laws and policies are ignoring experts and putting the safety and health of citizens at risk.”

The core of Chairman An’s claims is that “A wide range of options must be guaranteed for people to protect their own happiness and health.” Not everybody wishes for drug and surgical treatment. There are many who wish to use chiropractic treatment that promotes peace and dignity. Chairman An strongly believes that, even just to protect these people’s rights, the government must establish a strong, legal standard for the professionalism of chiropractic.

The KCA was first established in 1993 and joined the WFC (World Federation of Chiropractic) as a member in that same year. Since then, he has diligently contributed to the chiropractic community by participating in seminars, international competitions, academic exchanges, bills and petitions, community service, and more.

“The WFC headquarters is located in Ontario, Canada. It holds official relations with the WHO. As a proud association officially acknowledged by the WFC, KCA strictly follows the guidelines provided by the WFC and WHO.”

Chiropractic is a new field that is undergoing dynamic changes

■ Personalized Care for Each Patient. A New Cure to Lead Society into Centenarian-Age

It has been noted that chiropractic care researches and applies optimal responsive care for patients regardless of age, gender, or disease, while also providing counsel regarding diets, posture, and walking posture for cases where physical therapy is not necessary.

“Modern chiropractic has long evolved from the skeletal-correction level of care of the past. Now, chiropractic is establishing itself as a medical philosophy that promotes a healthy life through physical, physiological and emotional balance. In developed countries, such as Canada, spinal surgeries are required to be preceded by consultation and care from a chiropractor. The purpose is to prevent social loss through unnecessary procedures. That illustrates just how much chiropractors are being acknowledged.”

Opening the Future of KCA Through Education Business

Chairman An has a big dream. Of course petitions need to be consistently raised in the National Assembly in order for chiropractic to be admitted as a legal medical field in Korea, however, Chairman An believes that autonomous business activities for capacity enhancement are a bigger priority. For this, Chairman An plans to establish chiropractic curriculums in every domestic metropolitan city and build infrastructure that provides the entire population to acquire theoretical and practical chiropractic knowledge in a systematic and sophisticated way. He has already established an institution in Seoul to train personnel and experts to carry out his plan.

“Our goal for the future is not only to discover potential chiropractors in Korea and across the globe, but also to straighten out the distorted knowledge and prejudices of chiropractic and establish a strict manual. While the current environment lacks physical conditions for the Korean chiropractic curriculums to be level with foreign chiropractic degree curriculums, if these curriculums and courses could help young candidates find their path and grow into experts practicing in chiropractic-developed countries such as the U.S. or Canada, that would be enough.”

This curriculum is set on a 2-year, 2,500 hour long standard and curriculum inquiries are currently being made in large numbers.

“The current issue is perhaps rooted on pains from the past. Now is the time for the Korean Chiropractic Association to look to the future and march. For the next generation of chiropractors and for the ideological, theoretical, and clinical advancement of Korea’s chiropractic, this type of curriculum is an absolute necessity.”

■ Korean Chiropractic Association Leads Way to Globalization

Representing South Korea as well as KCA, Chairman An attends the WFC Congresses, the largest event and conference in the global chiropractic world, that are held all over the globe biennially. The 15th Congress of its kind was held this year in Berlin, Germany. Each country presents their national report and Chairman An received wide support after sharing the dynamic progress and current status of South Korea’s chiropractic field.

Chairman An states, “KCA is the only domestic association that is consistently keeping up with global professional standards. Based on that, we are seeing a steady increase in our member count. We have been active in our ‘Proper Chiropractic Awareness’ campaign, which aids more and more patients in receiving safe chiropractic treatment, and we also plan to continue our volunteer work throughout 2019.”

He further stated his claims to lead the way in uprooting short-term, illegal chiropractic technique seminars and to set the right example country-wide. By determining the authenticity and legality of currently active seminars both domestic and foreign, he plans to give out warnings to improper seminars, followed by member expulsions and license cancellation requests when no corrective actions are taken. He expects such efforts to promote a quicker globalization of chiropractic- not to mention being the quickest route in South Korea becoming a global leader in the field.

Furthermore, he plans to raise the level of management and testing to maintain a strict qualification system that allows the temporary CSC (Chiropractic Standardization Course) to achieve success in South Korea.

He anticipates the day when his work is answered by the government in the form of admittance of chiropractic as an official and legal alternative medicine. He hopes for his country to catch up to global medical systems that have already admitted chiropractic as an institution, providing their citizens with a wider range of benefits and treatments.

KCA (Korean Chiropractic Association) announced their will to endure the realities of current domestic medical environment and grow into a global level chiropractic association

■ Meeting Chiropractic for First Time After Facing Severe Pain

Chairman An recollects the time when he suffered from a severe spinal injury. He was a young worker and his life had just started going down in a vicious spiral.

“I had graduated from Konkuk University, College of Livestock, and started working in a large-scale farm. I got into an accident and hurt my back and the pain was so severe that I couldn’t event sit down. The hospital kept saying that they couldn’t find a way to relieve the pain and went on repeating meaningless tests. Spending every day in pain and agony really depleted by self-esteem. My life was falling apart. When I was heading for my worst, I accidentally ran into chiropractic. It didn’t get rid of all the pain but slowly my symptoms were getting better. After that, I enrolled in a chiropractic college based in the U.S. with the purpose of ‘Fixing my body, living my life.’”

“The college I studied at strictly forbade any practical training for students outside of the regulations. It was to prevent any immature procedures that could actually end up hurting the patient more. One of the most memorable things was the reasons to why my classmates enrolled. They told me reasons and goals that closely resembled that of a medical student back at home. It was proof that ‘chiropractor’ had already settled in the States as a respectable profession.”

Ever since he returned home after his study abroad, Chairman An spent his days curing patients and relieving their pains. His only goal was to minimize a patient’s pain, costs, and time spent in agony when it could otherwise be spent on his talents and achievements.

“South Korea’s chiropractic has changed dramatically in recent years. It is under rapid systemization and is undergoing refinement as an academic field. That is why I believe chiropractic offers the young generation a great opportunity in their future careers. There is a huge difference in not choosing due to lack of knowledge and choosing another path. One of my main goals in the coming years is to increase the awareness of chiropractic among students through education businesses and public activities to give them a fair chance in getting to know the field properly, which in turn will offer them a fantastic new path in their lives.”

In the closing of the interview, Chairman An emphasized ‘professionalism.’ He shed light on the current status of Korean chiropractors’ clinical experience and level of theoretical knowledge surpassing those of other medical doctors. Then, he stressed again his plans to initiate education businesses and academic exchange businesses that pass on these know-hows academically. Around the country, there is an air of bright anticipation for very tangible and definite progress in return for Chairman An’s efforts in promoting far-sighted, wholesome policies that solve the long-overdue issues at hand.