Were you born in Korea? I assume most of the readers were born and raised in Korea. If so, you are likely to be included in the 90% of vaccinated people in Korea. Korea boasts the highest vaccination rates among OECD countries around the world. The rate of child immunization until the age of 3, in particular, is 96.9%, which is higher than the UK, US and Australia. However, some people are raising questions about whether raising the immunization rate is the correct way to make the nation healthier. As we know, all medicine has side effects and vaccinations are no exception. Vaccines contain a large amount of mercury, especially for the role of antiseptics; there have been studies that the toxicity of mercury may develop autism in children. Some parents have decided not to vaccinate, but to raise their kids with natural remedies, worried about the side effects of medications prescribed by the hospital. A typical example of this is “AnAki (Raise children without medicines)"
AnAki is an Internet cafe started in 2013 by Kim Hyo-jin, who is a doctor of Korean medicine and runs a clinic in Daegu. The number of cafe members has reached 60,000. This group shares information on naturalistic therapies. It is the intention of the community to refrain from prescribing medicine when children are sick, to overcome illnesses through natural remedies, and to develop natural immunity. They emphasize that naturally immunized antibodies are more effective than artificially immunized antibodies!
Many researchers agree that vaccines are not 100% effective, and have found that it is more likely to get chickenpox compared to the group that did not receive a vaccination for it. Doctor Kim said “Because the vaccine is an artificial immunity, the antibody may last from three years to six years. However, the natural immune system which is formed when the child is young, has a lifetime so it is better for children to have a mild disease and leave the cure to nature.”
According to ‘Seoul National University Medical Information’, the rate of adult death from chickenpox infection is much higher than that of children. Kim said, “I do not understand why many parents do not consider the future of their child. When children have a natural immunity formed from childhood, they can live without worrying about varicella (chickenpox) for the rest of their life. Vaccines contain toxic substances such as mercury aluminum, which can cause side effects, but only few doctors notice it well before vaccination. In order to make the vaccination mandatory as it is now, the government needs to study it from all aspects.” Some AnAki hardliners do not allow their children to be vaccinated and instead of medicine they choose naturalistic methods such as breastfeeding, no-lotion no-steroids and seasonal food feeding, etc.
On May 2, However, AnAki Cafe was officially closed. The manager manager left a final post saying, “Misunderstanding and criticism targeting AnAki members are getting tougher and tougher. So it's hard to keep the cafe." Why is this group attacked by civic groups and doctors?
Opponents of AnAki parents are concerned with the possibility of communicable diseases such as measles and chickenpox from AnAki children in kindergarten and elementary school. They say that AnAki members are, “free to ride the national collective immune system.” In order to register for kindergarten and daycare centers, a vaccination certificate must be issued. AnAki parents submit their statement for admission.
These opponents of AnAki argue that the actions of some Anaki parents are abusing their children. A member of the Internet parenting community said, "I can not understand them, they don’t take their child to the hospital and the child endures the disease himself." Another member said, “I can not let my children be in the same place with AnAki kids."
A civic group called "Citizens' Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children” accused AnAki to the National Police Agency on May 16th. The citizens' group said, "Allowing children to suffer from extreme pain without medical treatment or putting children at risk through folk remedies is child abuse. AnAki members violated the Child Welfare Act and the Basic Law on Health and Medical Care."
"I have seen a child not go to the hospital even though atopic dermatitis rose up in his body and the body was covered with weeping sores." said Gong Hye-jeong, a spokesperson for the Citizens' Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She criticized that No-Lotion, No-steroid therapy seems nice but it is only neglecting sick children. The evidence they gathered shows that many infants with atopic conditions such as atopic eczema were treated very badly by their parents with unproven treatments such as 'seeing the sun', ' applying Sikhye', 'sweating and detoxing'. In addition, the behavior of the so-called “Chickenpox party" which makes their children spend time with other children to naturally develop an immune system related to varicella (though putting other children at risk of infection too, or letting children with pneumoconiosis go to the Jimjilbang, a place where many people gather. The criticism is that it is not only neglecting the child but also harming local health.
Professor Jang (Dept. of Preventive Medicine in Yonsei University) said, "It is right to avoid natural remedies that lack evidence. The natural treatment of AnAki has its own grounds, but it has not been experimented, and it seems to be very dangerous in a cautious stage." He said continuously, “However, the risk of infection from AnAki children, as some parents are worried about, is low. There is a low probability of disease spreading among people who are immunized. Some may be show reluctance to have nonimmunologic people in the same space, but it, in and of itself, may not cause a social problem."
All Parents want to raise their children better and healthier. But the methods are different. In this age where diseases are increasing and powerful super bacteria is spreading all over the world, it is difficult to decide to take medicine or not to use medicine. The issue affects not only just individual families and social communities, but also the whole nation.
By Sarah Park, reporter
Sarah Park firstname.lastname@example.org
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