South Korea plans to start legal proceedings that could lead to punishments for doctors who have walked off the job and disrupted health care to protest a plan to increase medical school enrollment.

Health and Welfare Minister Cho Kyoo-hong said inspections would be conducted from Monday to confirm whether trainee doctors who have taken part in the walkout have defied a government order to return to work by the start of March.

"We will take action without exception in accordance with laws and principles,” he said at a government meeting Monday in televised comments. The ministry issued a public notice on its website on Friday saying that some of the doctors in the collective action have been ordered to return to work, a procedural step starting a process for implementing disciplinary measures.