With No Free Medical Care, Please Do Not Stop the Retired Doctors

[imText1]It has been known that the government of North Korea started a special crackdown activity to control the illegal medical practices of the retired doctors starting this September.

The official name of the crackdown group is not known, but it is presumed to be a task force team to control illegal activities specially sent from Pyongyang.

According to internal sources from North Korea, there have been orders to each municipal and provincial procurator office to “eradicate private doctors” and to “actively control profit-making anti-socialistic activities by the doctors who must care for the people’s health.” Such task force teams called “groupa” (word “group” in Russian) which consist of the prosecutory officers and agents of the People’s Safety Agency.

The first target of crackdown is the retired doctors performing medical practices with equipments and medicine smuggled in from China.

On September 3, the groupa broke into a house of a retired doctor in Yongchon City located in North Pyongyan province, who was well know for his good diagnosis and who had been selling medicine in secret. He was taken to the police office and was interrogated for performing illegal medical practices, the number of diagnosis, patients who paid visits, amount of profit, and the route in which he obtained medicine.

Prevailing STD, Increase of Secret Medical Practices

North Korea used free medical system as one of the tools to propagate superiority of its regime. However, due to the long lasting economic crisis, lack of medicine and inability to pay wage to doctors, now one can only be treated by buying medicine himself in the markets or bribing the doctors.

For this reason, according to the defectors and inner sources, there has been an increase of cases the retired doctors perform medical practices to make profit. The retired doctors treat patients with smuggled medicine from China and visit the patients as well.

Well-known doctors for their ability with decades old experience are known to be treating the high class and rich class and pay medical visits to far cities as well.

Another reason for a warm welcome of increase of medical practice by the retired doctors is due to the widely spreading STD. In North Korea ▲ after the food crisis, many women started to sell their body for a means of survival ▲ slow but prominent inflow of capitalist culture led to increase of sexual intercourse before marriage ▲ tradesmen and traffickers got infected of sexually transmitted disease from the Chinese STD patients, and ▲ lack of sexual education for the common people and due to the bad sanitation led a rapid spread of STD.

Many patients prefer private or illegal clinics for abortion or STD treatment for the negative social perceptions.

For this reason, the common people are dissatisfied with crackdown activities of the groupa.

Free Medical Care? What are you talking about?

Mr. Jung who is a currency exchanger living in Shinuiju says, “In North Korea, there are many cases where people cannot be treated even after the diagnosis due to the lack of medicine. This is why many retired doctors are called to homes for the treatment. I do not understand why the state is trying to control them.” He says those doctors who “illegally” perform medical practices are those who can do what the state cannot do.

In 2004, a North Korean defector woman who currently hides in Liaoning says “(about the state controlling the private medical activities) It is same as the state telling the people to die when they get sick.”

“I ran to the hospital with my child who was crawling the ground for stomachache and the doctor, after touching few parts of the stomach said, “it seems like appendicitis” as if he does not care. He said he cannot perform an operation due to the lack of equipments. Among the retired doctors, there are some who have equipments ready at their house, even an operation room.” She said a retired doctor performed an operation for her son.

“We do not ask for free medical care. If the state has medical equipments prepared it would not be so bad, but cracking down doctors without any alternatives for the people does not make sense,” said Jung.