Global Partners

Steps taken toward practice rights for DOs in South Korea

New partnership with South Korea promotes practice rights for DOs, collaborative research and global awareness of manipulative medicine.


When AOA CEO Adrienne White-Faines, MPA, FACHE, visits a college of osteopathic medicine and asks medical students how many have studied abroad, typically over 75 percent raise their hands. When asked how many are interested in practicing abroad at some time during their career, close to 100 percent raise their hands. For this reason, attaining practice rights for DOs abroad is an essential component of AOA’s vision for the future.

Earlier this month, members of the AOA executive team traveled to Seoul, South Korea, to present at the Jaseng International Conference, and meet with officials of the Jaseng Medical Foundation and the Korean Society of Chuna Manual Medicine, with whom the AOA has forged a strategic partnership. The conference celebrated the  30th anniversary of the Jaseng Hosptial of Korean Medicine and was hosted by Dr. Joon Shik Shin, KMD, president of Jaseng Hospital.

The collaboration is an outgrowth of a 2017 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the AOA, the Jaseng Medical Foundation and the Korean Society of Chuna Manual Medicine. The goals of the MOU include:

  • An exchange of materials in education and research, publications, and academic information;
  • An exchange of clinical fellows;
  • Joint research and meetings for education and research;
  • Collaboration for establishing the DO and KMD practice rights in each country.

“Our visit certainly helped to advance the AOA’s strategic initiative to advance practice rights for US-trained DOs in South Korea, as well as helped to advance our commitment to collaborative research in manual medicine,” said White-Faines. “The visit to Jaseng Institute also provided an opportunity to share insight on how the AOA and the osteopathic profession has advanced in the U.S., and informed their efforts to heighten integration of Korean traditional medicine and the Korean Society of Chuna Manual Medicine within the established medical systems of South Korea.”

Attaining practice rights for DOs within South Korea is a multi-step process that includes: 1) approval of the applicant’s medical school by the Ministry of Public Health and Welfare, 2) successful completion of a qualifying exam which includes a clinical skills test and written test, and 3) successful completion of the Korean Medical Licensing Exam (KMLE).

AOA Past President Boyd R. Buser, DO, speaks at the Jaseng International Conference.

Jaseng Hospital of Korean Medicine is the largest traditional Korean medicine hospital in South Korea, specializing in non-surgical treatment of spine and joint disorders and Chuna manipulative therapy, a form of Korean spinal manipulation in which gentle pressure is applied to the spine for the purpose of restoring function to its surrounding tissues.

Dr. Shin stated that he expects Chuna manipulative therapy to be covered by Korean health insurance this year. “The Jaseng International Conference was a meaningful place not only to look back on the history of Korean manual therapy, but also it was a great opportunity to promote and introduce osteopathic medicine in earnest successfully to the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare and Korean media as well,” he said.

Dr. Shin is tentatively scheduled to present at the 2018 OMED conference in San Diego where he will share his approach to treating pain with Korean manual medicine and acupuncture.

Members of the AOA team who attended the conference include White-Faines; past president Boyd Buser, DO; senior vice president and general counsel Josh Prober, JD; and vice president of accreditation Brian Kim, JD.


  1. David Son, DO, MPH

    This is still a lost battle. Their requirement that DOs must take a series of examination for practice rights in Korea implies that we are yet to be acknowledged as physicians in their eyes. And this partnership would certainly be useful for the advancement of their specialty but the identity of Osteopathy will not shine since this Chuna Medicine will take all the credit and claim for our heritage. I sincerely request a revision of this partnership so that the brand Osteopathy will be ingrained in the identity of their practices. I am a Korean American DO who is fluent in Korean and will be board eligible for Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine in 3 months. I will gladly offer my service for further advancement of Osteopathy in Korea. Please feel free to contact me.

  2. anonymous angry DO

    How does talking to korean accupuncture Herbal medicine folks help DOs to practice in korea??
    This is a very serious weak soft move and waste of time.
    So Can Jaseng or KMD practioners practice surgeries??? the answer is no
    can Jaseng or KMD treat afib in emergency settings? the answer is No
    US DOs and MDs practice with equal rights
    Can Jaseng folks practice in the hospital ?? No

    AOA should approach traditional western medical schools(MD schools like Yonsei Severance) in korea and they need to talk about sharing clinical rotation sites
    I am not sure even AOA knows that in order to practice medicine in korea, the medical schools that one attended need to have affiliation with Korean MD schools???

    I am a korean American DO and I go back to korea frequently. I read articles that Jaseng people are modeling after US DOs to be part of mainstream. WHy are we even compared to them?

  3. Brian Lee D.O.

    In order to practice in korea, the med schools should have affiliation with another korean medical schools in korea
    KMD does not have privilege in regular hospitals
    what is the point of this?

  4. Joshua Son D.O.

    The steps mentioned in this post are only true if you have graduated from LCME-accredited medical schools (US MD). In general, all foreign medical graduates in Korea must follow these steps to obtain a medical license in Korea. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Public Health and Welfare in Korea does not recognize US DO schools because it does not recognize COCA as accrediting agency for medical education even though COCA is a legitimate accrediting agency for medical education in US, granted by U.S. Department of Education. As of now, if you have graduated from a US DO medical school, your application for Korean license will be rejected and you will not be able to sit for the licensure exams. If you have any questions, please email me.

    1. Daniel Jang

      I’m a DO graduate, and I’m Korean. Do you know any contact info for whom I should ask questions regarding if there is any way that DOs could take KMLE. I know you said that Ministry of Public Health and Walfare in Korea does not recognize US DO schools, but I just want to try asking them. I am also wondering if there are any alternative options that DOs can do for their career in Korea, if you know any.
      Thank you

      1. Joshua Son


        There is *no way* for you to take the KMLE. You CANNOT just take the KMLE. You have to be given the right to take the exam which requires our degree to be approved by the Ministry. The Ministry of Public Health does not recognize DO degree as a legitimate medical degree. At this time, there are no ways for you to practice medicine as a physician in Korea.

      2. Jinnis Son

        May I ask what pathways are there for DO graduates to do in Korea? Please email me cuz I am also trying to find my way

    2. Jane

      Dear Dr. Joshua Son,
      Hi, I am a current DO student in the U.S.. I was wondering if I could email you with questions regarding possible pathways to practicing medicine in Korea as a DO.

      If we pass the USMLEs, and get into ACGME residencies, is there still no way to sit for the KMLE? Thank you.

      1. Joshua Son DO

        Hi Jane,

        Like I have mentioned in my previous comment. Regardless of us taking USMLE or completing an ACGME residency, we can’t sit for the KMLE. Our medical school is not recognized internationally as an “MD” equivalent medical school in Korea. If you have questions, you can email me at

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