[Photo by Han Joo-hyung]
A Chinese capital-led hospital that would make the first for-profit medical facility in South Korea is expected to open early next year in the southern resort island of Jeju despite residents’ opposition.
Won Hee-ryong, Jeju Governor who has the last say in the affair on Monday said he would soon decide on the matter based on “credibility of Korean administration and the national name as well as the impact on the regional economy.” Given the reasons he has cited, Won is expected to give a go-ahead to the hospital opening that had been stalled even as construction and recruitment became complete in the summer of last year due to opposition from Jeju residents.
Won yielded to residents’ demand even as the project has been approved by the central government and assigned a civilian committee to conduct a poll on residents which found 58.9 percent against versus 38.9 percent for on the idea of the first for-profit doing business in their community.
Although a law was passed under liberal President Kim Dae-jung in 2002 to invite foreign for-profit hospitals in Korea, the first finally gained approval under the Park Geun-hye administration in 2015.
Greenland Group, a real-estate developer half-owned by the city of Shanghai, spent 77.8 billion won ($69 million) to complete the construction of a three-story 47-bed hospital in July 2017. It already recruited 134 doctors and nurses.
The hospital plans to offer medical services in internal medicine, dermatology, cosmetic surgery and family medicine. Greenland Group filed for approval to open the hospital in August, but the approval decision was delayed six times.
If Jeju administration further stalls the opening, it could have drawn a lawsuit from Greenland which already completed investment upon licensing from the Seoul government.
By Lee Byung-moon and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]