BACKGROUND: Without available medical policy, up until now discharges against medical advice have occurred in th field of medicine in Korea. Seoul district court had convicted two physicians of crime because they had allowed a patient to discharge against medical advice, referred to as the Boramae incident in May of 1998. This shocked people in medical field as well as people and appeared in almost all newspapers and created a debate especially to physicians. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the differences of opinion of this incident between physicians and common people. METHODS: Ninety-nine physicians and ninety-nine common people were questioned from September 1 to September 30, 1998 about sociodemographic characteristics and opinion of this event. RESULTS: The mean age of the physician group, the non-physician group was 38.12+/-11.2, 38.5+/-11.1, respectively. Each group consisted of 87.9 percent, men and 12.1 percent, women. There were no differences between physicians and common people in experiences of discharges against medical advice in their families, decisions on Boramae-like incidents that could occur in the near future, and causes of discharges against medical advice. The physician group had more awareness rate of this incident than the non-physician group, and insisted more on the needs of methods to prevent recurrence. In opinion of the judgement, 5.1 percent of non-physician group agreed to conviction of Seoul district court. 22.2 percent of the non-physician group was of the opinion that this incident will affect patient care positively, about patient wifes decision, 21.2 precent of non-physician group considered that she made an imprudent decision. CONCLUSION: There were significant, differences between physicians and common people in the awareness of this incident, opinion on th judgement, needs of methods to prevent recurrence, the influence of this incident on patient care in the future, opinion of patient wifes decision, exceptional experiences of discharges against medical advice in a family, decisions on Boramae-like incidents that can occur in the near future, and causes of discharges against medical advice.