Two noted doctors of Koryo-Sol Kyong Song and Ri Sang Ro


Chairman Kim Jong Il said:

"Koryo medicine is a precious legacy of our nation, which our ancestors created and have developed."

Koryo medicine which includes pharmaceutical resources abundant in our country and acupuncture, moxibustion and cupping and others is a unique therapy. It is traditional medicine and valuable heritage which has made a great contribution to the treatment of the people.

The medicine not only has unique features distinguished from medicines of other Eastern countries in theory and treatment but also is a national medicine and precious medical heritage which has developed in conformity with the living habit and body structure of our people.

It made a great progress along with the changing socio-historical environment in Koryo Dynasty(918-1392), the first unified state of our nation.

Books on acupuncture such as "Hwangjechimgyong"(book on acupuncture for emperors) and "Jejongriphyobang", "Euichalyobang"(remedies of a royal physician)which is a book about simple remedies, and the books like "Hyangyakgugupbang", "Samhwajahyangyakbang", "Hyangyakganyibang" and "Hyangyakhyemingyonghombang" describe the treatment with medicinal materials peculiar to our country which gives a glimpse into the advanced level of Koryo medicine.

The continuous compilation and publication of the medical books about the remedies for different diseases using various kinds of medicinal materials of our country and the unique medical treatment was the result of creative labor and aspiration of the people to develop Koryo medicine and make the best of it in treatment.

Along with further study of Koryo medicine and its development, many noted doctors were produced.

Among them were Sol Kyong Song and Ri Sang Ro who were named 2 noted doctors of Koryo.

Sol Kyong Song(1237-1313) was well-known not only in Koryo but also in the Yuan Dynasty.

He came from a family which followed the medical occupation from generation to generation in Gyongju(Gyerim) and called himself a descendant of Solchong.

He learnt medicine when he was young following his ancestors and devoted all his efforts to the treatment and study of medicine after he became a doctor. As a result, he was well versed in the clinical medicine in his lifetime.

He was so good at medical practice that he was appointed as "Sangyakuiza"(9th official rank of upper medical office which is in charge of making medicine for the king) and this was the first time he worked in the government office. Later he worked in different posts of the government and was promoted to "Dongjimiljiksasa" (2nd official rank of the government office which is in charge of issuing orders of the king, guarding the king's palace and dealing with military secrets). Finally he changed his occupation to be a doctor of the government and gave it up. ("Koryosa" (Books on Koryo Dynasty) Vol. 122 Sol Kyong Song)

As he was recognized as a talented doctor at that time, King Gyonghyo (King Chung Ryol, 1275-1308) got medical treatment only from Sol Kyong Song whenever he suffered from an illness and from that time Sol Kyong Song won the confidence and favor of the king and the fame of a noted doctor.

He became famous for his outstanding medical practice not only in our country but also in other country.

Ri Sang Ro(1123-1197) was also a talented doctor who made a great contribution to the development of acupuncture during Koryo Dynasty.

Ri Jung Bu, his father, worked in the government office as a "Jungsosain"(4th official rank) and when he was exiled on the "charge" of having participated in Myochong Revolt, the fight for power between Sogyong and Kaegyong forces and a confrontation between sycophantic and anti-sycophantic forces, Ri Sang Ro went to Chongju with him in 1136.

He grew wandering here and there with his drinking pals and accidently he met a doctor who was living a life of a monk to be taught acupuncture from him.

From then he won his fame of a noted doctor for his outstanding skill of acupuncture and moxibustion. He was also well-known in the capital as he successfully cured a government official of his disease.

At a good time Uijong(1147-1170), the king of Koryo, heard of him and called him to the palace as he was suffering from an illness on his foot. Numerous doctors had tried to cure the king of his illness in vain. But Ri Sang Ro managed to cure the king of his disease by means of acupuncture.

Uijong was so glad that he gave Ri Sang Ro lots of silk as a reward and appointed him as a government official called Ryangonryong(8th official rank) so that he could work in the inner palace.

He was promoted to a higher position, got more favor from the king and became popular among the people within a few years. The corrupted and incompetent feudal officials were jealous of him and made up a groundless story that he had committed a treason by colluding with the peasant rebels and exiled him to an island.

He never stopped improving his talent and skill even in a place of exile.

As his medical practice was unique and practical, the king brougnt him back and let him work in the king's palace. Eventually he was promoted to a high official rank called "Ribusangso".

Ri Sang Ro practiced and developed acupuncture in a unique way with his steady efforts and treated many patients with his outstanding acupuncture and moxibustion, thus, wining his fame as a noted doctor in his lifetime and one of two famous doctors of Koryo Dynasty.

Such noted doctors as Sol Kyong Song and Ri Sang Ro made a great contribution to the development of Koryo medicine and making it well-known at home and abroad.