A woman in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province reportedly collapsed on Apr. 25 of this year after enduring appendicitis pain until the end of a Military Foundation Day celebratory performance. North Korean authorities have reportedly praised the woman for her loyalty to the country and publicized the incident widely.

“A woman who lives in Chongjin participated in a celebratory performance to memorialize the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on May 4. “Even when she was faced with sudden sharp stomach pains, she succeeded in finishing her performance before collapsing… The provincial party has given the woman high praise for her loyalty and propagated the story widely.”

According to the source, the woman was in her early forties. She had prepared to participate in the performance for a month as a member of the Mobile Arts Propaganda Brigade of the Chongjin Socialist Women’s Union of Korea. However, the woman suddenly complained of severe stomach pain before going onstage on the day of the event.

Even though her lower abdomen hurt so much that it was difficult for her to stand up, the woman endured the pain long enough to walk on stage. She played her part in a group gayageum performance to the end as sweat poured down her face. When the performance was complete, the woman fainted behind her instrument and was transported to the hospital. 

Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju watch an art performance given by the wives of military officers in Pyongyang on June 2, 2019
Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju watch an art performance given by the wives of military officers in Pyongyang on June 2, 2019. Image: Rodong Sinmun

“When the provincial party heard the story of this woman that ensured that the performance went on as planned despite being in extreme pain, they gave high praise to her loyalty and even arranged for a team of capable doctors to perform surgery,” the source said. “[The authorities] broadcast the woman’s story almost every day throughout the province on Channel 3. The broadcasters introduced her as the ‘Women’s Union member that showed her unrelenting loyalty to the incomparable Great Men [the Kims] by pouring her heart and soul into her performance, and then collapsed after successfully playing her part to completion.’”

When the Central Committee heard about the incident, they reportedly released a statement saying that “Fighters with a brilliant revolutionary spirit are needed most in times of difficulty. This beautiful act must be promoted all across the country.” The Central Party also reportedly sent down orders to ensure that the woman is well taken care of.

However, the woman’s surgery reportedly did not achieve its intended results. Surgeons opened her abdomen for surgery, but her appendix burst and caused an infection in her abdominal cavity. The woman is reportedly still suffering from complications.

According to the source, Chongjin locals are whispering that “this woman ended up with a disease that she will have for the rest of her life after getting a botched surgery just one time.”

*Translated by S & J

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.