The Art of Sowing

A Metaphoric Approach towards Infertility in Korean Medicine

In: Asian Medicine

This report illustrates how the condition of infertility and its remedy in Korean Medicine is likened to the art of sowing, and how Korean medical professionals and their patients navigate their way against a backdrop of a dominantly biomedical scene. In South Korea, where both biomedicine and Korean Medicine are recognised as legitimate medical systems, a medically defined condition creates a crossroads where different epistemologies conflict and intermingle. While biomedicine perceives infertility as an absence or impairment of fertility, where the ability to become pregnant is immutable, Korean Medicine views it as something that could change according to conditions of bodily elements, and thus can be improved through shifting the bodily state. Factors involved in pregnancy are described metaphorically in the medical texts as the man as seed and the woman as earth. The doctor is described as playing the role of the farmer. This way of metaphorical thinking of infertility leads to a different assessment of what the problem is, and to different approaches in treatment. These differences can be seen in the interviews of Korean medical professionals that are the foundation of this practice report. The illustrations in this report show how practice can differ according to epistemology in the case of infertility, where on the one hand, the state of the art biomedical techniques for treatment remove the pregnancy process from the body by replacing its roles in the lab, while on the other hand, Korean medical practitioners consider fertility to be reflexive to the individual’s bodily state and deal with it on the more elementary level of the patient’s body.

  • XiaoXun蕭壎 Nukejinglun 女科經綸 (Canonical Teachings on Medicine for Women) 1997 Beijing China Traditional China Medicine Publisher (中國中醫葯出版社) published in 1684 reprint

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chun許浚 Tongŭibogam 東醫寶鑑 (Precious Mirror of Eastern Medicine) 1994 Seoul Namsandang (南山堂) published in 1613 reprint

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KangJ. Y. ‘“Natural Pregnancy” in Fertility Clinic: The Rhetoric for Constituting Boundary between Nature and Culture’ Cross-Cultural Studies 2012 18 2 53 95

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KimS. H. ‘“Infertility Treatment Industry” and the Politics of Reproduction in South Korea’ 2008 Yonsei University unpublished ma dissertation

    • Export Citation
  • KimT. W. ‘Classical Texts in the Present Tense: The Looking Diagnosis of a Donguibogam School in South Korea’ The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2014 20 4 301 303

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SonA. H. K. ‘Modernization of Medical Care in Korea (1876–1990)’ Social Science & Medicine 1999 49 543 550

  • UnschuldP. U.TessenowH. Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: An Annotated Translation of Huang Di’s Inner Classic―Basic Questions 2011 Berkeley University of California Press 2 vols in collaboration with J. Zheng

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zegers-HochschildF. ‘International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technology (icmart) and the World Health Organization (who) revised glossary of art terminology’ Fertility and Sterility 2009 92 5 1521 1523

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2

    Kim 2008; Kang 2012pp. 53–95.

  • 4

    Kim 2014pp. 301–3.

  • 9

    Unschuld et al. 2011p. 419.

  • 10

    Unschuld et al. 2011pp. 110–11.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 74 56 4
Full Text Views 175 165 0
PDF Downloads 6 5 0