I am returning to North Korea this week after an absence of several years, Why?

This Home Page was set up in  1994 following the first of a series of serious floods that brought about famine and a rupture of the supply to the nation-wide medical system. This caused great suffering, particularly among children and the elderly. At the time we began a series of visits to North Korea, distributing rice, corn, clothing and medical supplies.

Major governments paid scant attention to the suffering there.The United States blocked our bank account in Washington which was receiving donations from generous Americans; South Korea threatened its citizens with jail if they contributed directly to North Korean humanitarian efforts and Japan sat and keeps sitting on its surplus rice  which could save countless lives but  instead is rotting in its warehouses.

I was gratified to see the U.S. subsequently  reverting to its historic humanitarian custom of helping those in need, regardless of politics, while Kim Dae Jung also dramatically reversed previous policies by instituting his Sunshine Policy,  donating emergency food supplies to its northern neighbor. Japan, however, stubbornly refused to budge by placing the starving population as pawns to achieve its political agenda. Japan has forgotten its own atrocities against Koreans during its cruel occupation of the peninsula and failing to make amends to the comfort women.

With the Bush administration's sudden "axis of evil" designation to North Korea and then moving to punish its innocent citizens in the same breath, I felt it was time for us to come back in and appeal for public support again to help those faced with starvation and inadequate medical care due to unnecessary shortages of drugs and equipment.

North Korean doctors have the training, skill and dedication to do their job if they have the proper equipment. I know this first-hand because I was a patient for ten days in a Pyongyang hospital recovering from a minor stoke. Despite shortages of drugs, the expert treatment I received resulted in an unexpected quick full recovery.  My doctors in Tokyo and Boston were greatly impressed how the North Korean doctors handled my treatment and the substitute drugs (drip) used to cure the problem because they did not have the moderrn drugs at hand.

Much of these failings  have been the fault of other countries which have placed obstacles in imposing sanctions and hampering communications,  transportation and  retaining outdated laws aimed at  discouraging those who seek to  provide North Korea with what it needs to help its population.

In this spirit I am returning to North Korea this week to work with the nation's leading medical institution, the Kim Man Yu Hospital, to investigate whether  a telemedicine system, such as the one we established in Cambodia ( could be effective in North Korea, headquartered at the Kim Man Yu hospital, providing the expert  medical diagnoses and suggesting treatment to patients far away, in remote areas, where expertise and supplies may be lacking. I also hope to assess the country's overall medical needs and talk to officials responsible for the nation's health.

 My observations and activities will be reported on a regular basis directly from Pyongyang to this Home Page.

I hope, as a result of this trip, we will be able to post a wish list of equipment and drugs (or cash with which to purchase these) and once donations are received,  to account for them in a transparent way on this page. I also plan to come up with some specific proposal that will gain support from foundations and international organizations in solving chronic problems in the spirit of "teaching them how to fish" instead of endlessly "giving them fish."

We hope to work with the Huichon Hospital (92 kilometers north of Pyongyang) which we visited twice before and helped after the 1994 floods. Hopefully we can establish this  as a pilot project to fulfill its needs.

We will also meet with the representatives of the World Food program, UNICEF, UNDP and others to gain an insight into their programs and how the public can assist them to meet their goals.

Bernard Krisher