In Korea, as in China and Japan, there are no clear descriptions of a disease corresponding to diphtheria until the modern age. Differential diagnosis of sore throat diseases, such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, and tonsillitis, is just as difficult as sorting out the eruptive fevers and the typhuslike diseases. Moreover, diphtheria is not strongly associated with dramatic epidemics of high mortality. Indeed, mild cases are not unusual, and immunity is often quietly acquired at an early age. Since ancient times, however, many different names have been applied to various diseases of the throat. It therefore appears probable that diphtheria was recognized as a particular disease marked by a characteristic symptomatology.

Two diseases consistent with a diagnosis of diphtheria are listed in the Hyangyak chipsong pang under the heading "Throat." The Tongui pogarn lists several different forms of throat disease, including a contagious disease that might correspond to diphtheria. Korean medical treatises of the eighteenth century also described throat diseases with symptoms similar to those of diphtheria.

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