Alternative medicine is popular in Korea, as it is in Western societies. This paper aims to review the current state of alternative medicine, especially the growth and division of oriental medicine. In the modernization period, practitioners of oriental medicine were divided into a majority of regular oriental medical doctors (OMDs) and a minority group mainly composed of acupuncturists. OMDs have professionalized their work, while acupuncturists have seen their social status fall. OMDs promoted the professionalization of their medical practices and monopolization of knowledge. In contrast, acupuncturists have taken a more popularist approach, advocating low-tech therapy and sharing knowledge among people. Recently, they have advocated a popular health movement by training lay acupuncturists and providing free services. This paper discusses the factors that cause this two-tier approach and the limits of professionalization and the popular health movements.
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