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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 15(1); 2006 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2006;15(1): 23-48.
“정성운동 ”이 북한 보건의료에 미친 영향
최영인, 김수연, 황상익
The Influence of the Devotion Movement on the Health Care in North Korea
Young In Choi, Soo Youn Kim, Sang Ik Hwang
Department of the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea. hwangsi@snu.ac.kr
Since the early 1960s, North Korea has conducted 'devotion movement' under the directorship of Kim Il Sung across the nation. As a matter of fact, the movement was not a novel invention at all. When North Korean Temporary People's Polity was established in 1946, North Korea emphasized the importance of the devoted care of health personnel. It meant to reform the people's thought and mind along with complementing the lack of human and material resources. Thought reform was not a peculiar phenomenon observed in North Korea only. It was particularly stressed out among communist countries, including the Soviet Union. However any other communist country stresses the importance of thought reform. Devotion movement should be viewed as part of this process. As shown in many cases, the extent and degree of devotion movement and care are beyond our imagination, which does not intend to mean that North Korean health personnel's attitude towards patients is superior to the counterparts in South Korea. Indeed human being's behavior cannot be understood without taking account of society in general. The question can be raised as to whether or not North Korean health personnel's devoted care is really voluntary. To put aside the testimony that the most powerless group in a society can fall prey to victims, if social environment, whether directly or indirectly, is action on the people's thought and mind even in a subtle way and thus influence one's decision power, it is hard to highly evaluate the devoted care in North Korea. Moreover it seems like that the internal conflict exists surrounding devotion. In conclusion, I think that North Korean devotion movement has enforced health personnel to reform their thought and mind to adapt to North Korean regime and has played an important role to accomplish the purpose of North Korean Labor Party to realize essential constituents of its health system, in such a situation in which essential medical supplies are severely lacking. But it seems like that it plays reverse action to develope sound North Korean health system.
Key Words: Devotion Movement, North Korea, Health System, Health Personnel, Devoted Care
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