Traditional Korean Medicine has a long history. In 1596, King Seonjo ordered a group of scholars to prepare a comprehensive encyclopedia of medical knowledge in East Asia at state expense. The King instructed that this encyclopedia must concentrate on preventive medicine, discuss medical herbs used by the peasantry, prescribe easy treatment methods and be easy to understand by the public. As a result of these instructions, "Donguibogam", was written in Chinese with summaries added in Korean, and with critical points printed in boxes to make them stand out clearly. The text printed in 1613 was edited by Heo Jun under the collective support of medical expert and literati. It runs to 25 volumes which include medical theory, diagnosis, a number of standard prescriptions for various diseases and a full discussion of the theory and practice of acupuncture.
"Donguibogam" differs from other East Asian medical encyclopedias, especially in its attempts to make it accessible to the less well-educated and its discussion of medicines not taken from the standard pharmacopoeia. It has remained central to Korean Traditional Medicine down to the present day, and has also been of influence in China, Vietnam, Japan, and elsewhere. It is considered of great cultural and historical value and was printed over 40 times. The two copies of the original printed edition of the book were inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2009.