I am often asked why I never became a doctor of chiropractic, particularly in light of the fact that both my father and grandfather were DCs.
Needless to say, this made an impression on me. When I considered what I would do for a living, I deliberately took chiropractic off the list. Life was hard enough, I thought; why choose a profession that people don't respect? It wasn't the most courageous decision I've ever made, but it seemed like the right choice at the time.
Had I become a DC, one of my older sons might have continued the family tradition as well. Had either one of them gone to chiropractic college, they might have met Taeg Su Choi. Dr. Choi came to the U.S. from his native South Korea to earn his doctor of chiropractic degree. Unlike many who come to the U.S. for their education and end up staying, Dr. Choi went directly back to South Korea and opened his practice in Seoul, less than 10 years after the first DC opened a practice in South Korea. There are still no licensure laws of any kind there. Chiropractic is not recognized by their law. (We reported on the plight of South Korean DCs in our Aug. 12 issue. Read "Prosecuted for Their Profession" to learn more.)
Health care in South Korea is dominated by two forces: Western medicine (represented by the Korean Medical Association or KMA) and traditional medicine (represented by the Oriental Medical Doctors' Association or OMDA) - neither of which is interested in seeing a chiropractic profession get started in South Korea. (OMDs practice what is called chuna, a manipulation technique that is reportedly taught with translated versions of chiropractic texts.)
Dr. Choi willingly began his practice without a chiropractic law and in defiance of the dominant KMA and OMDA. At that time, it was not usual for DCs to be prosecuted for practicing chiropractic. These prosecutions were initiated by KMA and OMDA complaints and usually resulted in large fines, suspended prison sentences or both, not to mention legal expenses. Many South Korean DCs were forced to abandon their practices, and some have moved to other countries.
In the face of such opposition, Dr. Choi stepped up and became the president of the Korean Chiropractic Association (KCA) in 2003. Since then, he has been prosecuted five times. Rather than back down, Dr. Choi became very politically active and authored a chiropractic policy guide for the legislation of chiropractic. In addition, he authored 18 chiropractic articles for local newspapers and magazines. All this while fighting his own legal battles and trying to run his chiropractic practice.
Not every DC is like Dr. Choi. The KCA, which once had approximately 60 members, is currently reduced to only 17. Most of the remaining 17 already have at least one prosecution. Some of the convictions are being appealed to the Constitutional Court, which consists of nine judges. And while they haven't won thus far, they are making headway. With six judges required to win the Constitutional Court appeal, the number of judges who are siding with the KCA doctors is increasing.
Was I a coward when I decided not to become a doctor of chiropractic? I don't think so. I think I knew innately, even at 11 years old, that I was headed for a different role in chiropractic. My role became much clearer when my father passed away almost 25 years ago, just five years after starting Dynamic Chiropractic.
Dr. Choi knows his role in chiropractic. He and his fellow KCA doctors are the front-line champions to establish chiropractic in South Korea. Through their efforts, the people of South Korea will eventually be free to enjoy the benefits of chiropractic unencumbered by the KMA and OMDA.
We each have a role in their struggle. Our sacrifice is much smaller, but no less important. Fortunately for us, we don't have to face prosecution, the threat of imprisonment or even the associated legal bills. The KCA doctors are risking their careers and freedom. All they are asking is for us to provide monetary support. Please take a moment, click here and donate to their worthy cause.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.