At the early age of the Japanese Colonial Rule, there were three private leprosariums in Gwangju, Busan, and Daegu ran by foreign missionaries. However, their capacity was very small. Therefore, many sufferers of Hansen's disease were living under the bridge or in underground sheds, leading a nomadic life, or living as a beggar.
Thinking that they were downgrading the nation's status, the Japanese Government-General of Korea set up a plan to quarantine them in one place and began searching for a proper place around the country. Sorokdo was chosen finally, considering its geographical condition as an island, which was suitable to naturally quarantine lepers, amicable weather, enough water resource, and its proximity to the mainland, which makes transportation of goods easier.
Despite objections from the natives, the authority purchased land and houses in 1/5 of the island (about 991,735㎡) by force and had the lepers move in. On February 24, 1916, the authority established Sorokdo Jahye Hospital in accordance with Article 7 of the ordinance of the Japanese Government-General of Korea.
Jahye Hospital was originally a general hospital with 18 branches nationwide, but the 19th Jahye Hospital that opened in Sorokdo was a special hospital specializing in Hansen's disease.