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367. “Anaki,” Parental Love and Anxiety

Jang, Min-young 기자2017.09.07 03:01:17


A shocking picture was revealed last April, showing a baby’s face covered with scabs. The baby was known to be suffering from atopic dermatitis and was according to “Anaki” principles : Leaving the baby alone even when he or she continuously scratches his or her face. This picture raised attention to “Anaki,” the Korean acronym for the “Raising Baby without Drugs,” which is a blog that provides information about curing babies without the usage of drugs.


Why Was This Controversial?

Many became furious about the picture, which they saw as evidence of parental neglect or even child abuse. As the blog came to light, some natural treatments used by its members were also revealed. Suggestions such as applying a hot pack to a burn, not getting the necessary vaccines, or feeding charcoal powder to a baby if suffering from stomachache or diarrhea, were introduced by the blog as healthier ways to raise babies.

This is why it became a problem: When adopting a new medical treatment method, it should be checked for its safety and validity, but those advocated throughout Anaki were not based on evidence. Moreover, there was a controversy over the fact that the blog encouraged its non-professional members to engage in medical practices without license or authorization. The blog was operated in a way such that the operator tested certain members and gave the name Mom Doctor to those who passed the test. Mom Doctors could then give advice to other members seeking help.

Disputes Over Beliefs

The blog operator, Kim, Hyo-jin, who is an oriental medical doctor, explains that it is safer for babies to avoid using drugs. This is because she believes that natural cures improve the immune system and that chemicals in drugs can cause serious side effects. Kim, Hyo-jin operated an oriental medical clinic in Daegu for 31 years and started the blog four years ago. After the recent dispute, the clinic was suspended and the blog was shut down.

Kim, Hyo-jin suggests not getting vaccinated for several reasons. She claims that in case of chickenpox, it can be cured naturally with the development of a permanent antibody if infected at a young age. The vaccine however, only provides 70 to 90 percent protection for three to six years according to research conducted by some doctors of Seoul National University Hospital. Regarding this statement, the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) says it is true that chickenpox passes lightly when infected at a young age but there are cases of developing complications.

Kim, Hyo-jin also says that the vaccine possesses chemicals that can be harmful to infants. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) argues that the presence of chemicals such as aluminum in vaccines hardly poses any risks to infants. Even taking into account the fact that aluminum can be consumed naturally in the environment, the body’s burden caused by aluminum from vaccines and diet is significantly less than that of the safe burden level. The FDA suggested that the benefit of vaccines outweighs any concerns about the potential effect that aluminum has on infants.

Investigation Status

On May 11, 2017, the Ministry of Health and Welfare issued a request for investigation of Kim, Hyo-jin to the National Police Agency. On May 16, a non-governmental organization for preventing child abuse accused the blog operator and about 70 of the blog members. Investigation is still in progress as of July 26. The current investigation is leading to the conclusion that Kim, Hyo-jin is innocent of child abuse charges. However, it is reported that there have been some illegal actions regarding violation of medical laws.


           People see this incident as the result of declining trust in doctors and medicine or as a side effect of information overload on the Internet. A pediatrician and a columnist, Kang, Byung-chul, advises consumers of medical treatment to be critical in obtaining knowledge on the Internet.  He suggests that reading books about fundamental health information will be of greater help. 

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