Tradition on the Move

Emerging Acupuncture Practices in Contemporary South Korea

In: Asian Medicine

Studies of East Asian medicine have demonstrated that contemporary traditional medicine is by no means static but continuously changing, and current work often emphasises the impact of external forces on this transformation such as the modern state, globalisation, and biomedicine. This paper emphasises another significant—but under-examined—impetus for change: East Asian medical epistemology and its theoretical and clinical elaborations. Drawing on an ethnographic investigation of Korean medicine and focusing on ‘practice’ as a theoretical and methodological vehicle, this study illustrates that traditional medicine retains within great potential to transform itself. Three contemporary acupuncture methods—Sa-am, Eight-Constitution, and Hundred-Degree and their own ways of cultivating tradition (validation of pre-modern methods, combination of existing theories, and reinterpretation of classical texts)—show that East Asian medical theories and epistemology continuously serve as dynamic forces for tradition on the move. By analysing the emergence of new forms of traditional practices in Korean medicine, this study attempts to contribute to the discussion of how tradition exists in modernity.

  • BarnesL. ‘American Acupuncture and Efficacy: Meanings and Their Points of Insertion’ Medical Anthropology Quarterly 2005 19 3 239 366

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChoB. ‘The Politics of Herbal Drugs in Korea’ Social Science and Medicine 2000 51 505 509

  • ChoB. ‘Social Relations of Biomedicine and Traditional Korean Medicine: Conflicts and Integration’ Korean Medical Humanities 2006 2 83 110

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FarquharJ. Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounter of Chinese Medicine 1994 Boulder Westview Press

  • HansonM. Speaking of Epidemics in Chinese Medicine: Disease and the Geographic Imagination in Late Imperial China 2011 London Routledge

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HongS. ‘Traditional Korean Medicine in the Modernization Process: Institutional and Attitudinal Changes’ 1989 Iowa State University unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation

    • Export Citation
  • HongW. Huang-ti nei-jing Suwen Translated 1992 Seoul JeonTongMunHwaYeonKuHeo

  • HongW. Huang-ti nei-jing Lingshu Translated 1994 Seoul JeonTongMunHwaYeonKuHeo

  • HsuE. The Transmission of Chinese Medicine 1999 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

  • HsuE. Innovation in Chinese Medicine 2000 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

  • JanesC. ‘The Health Transition, Global Modernity and the Crisis of Traditional Medicine: The Tibetan Case’ Social Science & Medicine 1999 48 1803 1820

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KarchmerE. ‘Chinese Medicine in Action: On the Postcoloniality of Medical Practice in China’ Medical Anthropology 2010 29 3 226 252

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KimC.LimB. ‘Modernized Education of Traditional Medicine in Korea: Is It Contributing to the Same Type of Professionalization seen in Western Medicine?’ Social Science and Medicine 2004 58 1999 2008

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KimD.KimJ. ‘사암침법의 형성시기에 관한 서지학적 고찰 (A Philological Study of Formation Time of the Sa-am Acupuncture)’ Korean Journal of Medical Classics and History 1992 6 7 33

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KimJ. ‘Hybrid Modernity: The Scientific Construction of Korean Medicine in a Global Age’ 2005 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Unpublished Ph D Dissertation

    • Export Citation
  • KimJ. ‘Alternative Medicine’s Encounter with Laboratory Science: The Scientific Construction of Korean Medicine in a Global Age’ Social Studies of Science 2007 37 855 880

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KimJ. ‘Transcultural Medicine: A Multi-Sited Ethnography on the Scientific-Industrial Networking of Korean Medicine’ Medical Anthropology 2009 28 1 31 64

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KimT. ‘Classical Texts in the Present Tense: The Looking Diagnosis of a Donguibogam School in South Korea’ Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2014 20 4 300 304

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LeiSean Hsiang-lin Neither Donkey nor Horse: Medicine in the Struggle over China’s Modernity 2014 Chicago University of Chicago Press

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LiK. ‘심평원, 2013 년 건강보험 총진료비 집계분석 (The Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service’s analysis the health insurance reimbursement in 2013)’ Hanŭisinmun (The Korean Medicine Times) 2014 October 6

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LockM. ‘Rationalization of Japanese Herbal Medication: The Hegemony of Orchestrated Pluralism’ Human Organization 1990 49 41 47

  • MaE. ‘Medicine in the Making in Post-Colonial Korea (1948–2006)’ 2008 Cornell University unpublished Ph Dissertation

    • Export Citation
  • ScheidV. Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China: Plurality and Synthesis 2002 Durham, NC Duke University Press

  • ScheidV. Currents of Tradition in Chinese Medicine 1626–2006 2007 Seattle Eastland Press

  • ShaoJ. ‘ “Hospitalizing” Traditional Chinese Medicine: Identity, Knowledge, and Reification’ 1999 University of Chicago unpublished PhD Dissertation

    • Export Citation
  • SonA. ‘Modernization of Medical Care in Korea (1876–1990)’ Social Science and Medicine 1999 49 543 550

  • TaylorK. ‘Divergent Interests and Cultivated Misunderstandings: The Influence of the West on Modern Chinese Medicine’ Social History of Medicine 2004 17 1 93 111

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UnschuldP. Medicine in China: A History of Ideas 1985 Berkeley University of California Press

  • UnschuldP. LeslieC.YoungA. ‘Epistemological Issues and Changing Legitimation: Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Twentieth Century’ Paths to Asian Medical Knowledge 1992 Berkeley University of California Press 44 61

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UnschuldP. Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medical Text 2003 Berkeley University of California Press

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WangJ.FarquharJ. ‘Knowing the Why but not the How: A Dilemma in Contemporary Chinese Medicine’ Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 2009 5 1 57 79

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Health Organization Western Pacific Region WHO Standard Acupuncture Point Locations in the Western Pacific Region 2008 Switzerland World Health OrganizationGeneva

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ZhanM. Other-Worldly: Making Chinese Medicine through Transnational Frames 2009 Durham, NC Duke University Press

  • ZhangE. ‘Switching between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Viagra: Cosmopolitanism and Medical Pluralism Today’ Medical Anthropology 2007 26 53 96

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ZhangY. Transforming Emotions with Chinese Medicine: An Ethnographic Account from Contemporary China 2007 Albany SUNY Press

  • 7

    Kim 2007; Lock 1990; Wang and Farquhar 2009.

  • 10

    Farquhar 1994, p. 4.

  • 13

    Son 1999.

  • 14

    Cho 2006; Ma 2008.

  • 16

    Scheid 2007.

  • 18

    Kim and Kim 1992.

  • 28

    Hong 1994, p. 423.

  • 29

    Ibid., pp. 496–7.

  • 30

    Unschuld 2003.

  • 31

    Hsu 1999, p. 188.

  • 33

    Hong 1992, p. 168.

  • 34

    Kim 2014.

  • 36

    Janes 1999.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 79 63 7
Full Text Views 203 198 0
PDF Downloads 10 9 0