The National Folk Museum, situated on Samcheongdong-gil 35, Jongno-gu, Seoul, exhibits an Acupuncture Chart. The chart, a drawing of the human body, shows the point on the skin or muscle being stimulated through acupuncture or moxibustion (360 gyeonghyeol) and its linking channel
By Shim Hyun-chul
Poking the inner side of one's thumbnail with a sharp object can lessen the pain of indigestion.
Traditionally, oriental medical science has treated bodily pain by stimulating associated body parts. Acupuncture is a method of medical treatment widely popular in Korea. It cures ills by inserting small metal needles in specific parts of the human body.
According to Oriental medical science, a human body consists of interconnected body parts and relies heavily on their harmony. They must remain strictly harmonized in order to maintain good health. If any part-big or small-fails to preserve harmony, the human body will surrender to disease and display various signs of illness.
The pathways in the body along which vital energy flows from the head to the legs, chest, and arms is known as ``gyeonglak,'' while the meeting point of this vital energy is called ``gyeonghyeol.'' According to acupuncture, the energy that flows through the body stagnates at patients' gyeonghyeol. Stimulating numerous other points with needles improves the flow of ``gyeonglak'' to cure the illness.
This form of Oriental medicinal science is being used to treat various chronic maladies such as migraines and pain in body parts such as joints, shoulders, and the waist. Today, most oriental clinics use acupuncture.
Although the origin of acupuncture remains elusive, some attribute the treatment to the Neolithic Age after discovering stone and bone needles among relics from the era in North Hamgyeong Province, now in North Korea. Moreover, the oldest existing Chinese medical text, ``Hwangjenaegyeong,'' or ''The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine.'' claims that the needle, a vital instrument for acupuncture, originated in the East.
In the past, some people viewed acupuncture as an anachronism of a primitive society, but in December 1979, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized acupuncture for its capacity to cure 47 different types of diseases.