The doctor-patient relationship in Korea has been deteriorating, and the numbers of malpractice suits and other medical disputes have been increasing annually for the past decade. Part of the problem may be physicians' lack of ethics education. The author and colleagues surveyed Korean residents from 14 university hospitals and found that most regularly experienced serious ethical dilemmas and had difficulty appropriately managing them. Few were familiar with medical law, and many resolved ethical conflicts either on their own or by talking with colleagues. Many did not follow guidelines for obtaining informed consent. Few had ethics committees or consultants available to them, and most did not discuss ethical dilemmas with attending physicians. The author describes the kinds of dilemmas faced by Korean residents and how they manage them, and he offers recommendations for improving ethics education and the ethics environment for Korean medical students and residents.