SEOUL, South Korea (NEWSnet/AP) — South Korea's government announced Monday it will abandon its plan to suspend the licenses of striking junior doctors.

It wasn’t immediately known whether the thousands of striking doctors would return to their hospitals after the announcement.

The Health Minister said the government has decided not to suspend the licenses of the strikers, who are medical interns and residents, regardless of whether they return to their hospitals or not. He said the government will also offer special measures to returnees to minimize the gap in their training and help them obtain specialist licenses in time.

More than 90% of the country’s 13,000 medical interns and residents walked off their jobs in February to protest the government’s plan to sharply boost medical school admissions.

Some senior doctors and professors at those teaching schools supported the walkout by holding rallies and temporarily walking off their jobs or reducing their working hours.

Officials have said they want to add up to 10,000 doctors by 2035 to cope with the country’s fast-aging population and a shortage of physicians in rural areas and in low-paying yet essential specialties like pediatrics and emergency departments.

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