Freeing North Korea Will Mean Billions In Medical Costs

Medical treatments for North Koreans could cost hundreds of billions!

If even only a tenth of the country’s population is in the same condition as the recently escaped North Korean soldier, the medical needs alone will exceed $395 billion.

By Ed Young

With its latest missile launch on Tuesday, North Korea has continued to ratchet up their saber-rattling to South Korea, the United States, and the world. While many experts around the globe have anticipated North Korea to continue increasing their threats; such tactics will only lead to conflict between North Korea and the rest of the world.

President Trump has reiterated that North Korea will not be successful and that its tactics and actions will not be tolerated. The United Nations, including China, has agreed with President Trump and the United States increasing on sanctions on North Korea.

With this latest threat, newspapers and pundits are talking about possible war, the cost of the war, and whether or not anything should be done at this point.

Many experts agree that the only outcome of North Korea’s continued conduct will be some form of military conflict, which can only end in North Korea’s defeat.

With this in mind, I strongly urge leaders in both the United States and across the world to not just be thinking about the cost of an extensive military conflict with North Korea, but also what will be the bigger and longer-lasting cost: the humanitarian effort to help the people of North Korea following the conflict.

For several generations now, North Korea has been effectively cut off from the world economically, socially, and technologically. All these safeguards were put in place by world leaders to keep a dangerous rogue nation in check, with the impact on the people of North Korea being quite profound.

Under the three generation rule of the Kim Dynasty, North Korea’s leadership has focused all of their efforts trying to build themselves up as a strong military power with little or no regard to the welfare of its people.

Defectors who flee the Rogue Nation are in need of immense medical assistance once they flee the mistreatment of North Korea. You can look no further than the most recent defector for proof: a North Korean Soldier.

The soldier’s defection caused a worldwide stir, caught on multiple surveillance cameras and through satellite images as he successfully made it across the Korean Peninsula demilitarized zone.

But what is more startling than his defection is his medical condition. Typically, countries make sure their soldiers are in tip-top condition, and their nutritional needs are taken care of, but this was not the case with the 24-year-old North Korean defector.

This surprised doctors in South Korea as North Korea’s border guards are usually the regime’s most trusted, favored, and well taken care of troops.

Not counting the five gunshots to his lungs and intestines as he escaped to freedom across the heavily guarded demilitarized zone; he has been determined to be highly malnourished, has tested positive for Tuberculosis and hepatitis B, and suffers from an alarming infestation of parasites; one roundworm alone measured at nearly a foot long.

Dr. Lee Cook-Jong, the twenty-four-year-old’s chief surgeon, stated that he had never seen parasites of this size or magnitude anywhere outside of medical textbooks in his 20 years of experience as a surgeon.

Let’s take a look at what it will cost to treat this one soldier’s ailments:

Hepatitis B: $36

Roundworm: $54

Malnutrition: $22,000

Tuberculosis: $134,000

Total: $156,090

Those totals do not include whatever possible psychological counseling this individual will need following 24 years under the oppressive rule of the Kim Dynasty. The population of North Korea currently stands at approximately 25.3 million people. If even only a tenth of the country’s population is in the same condition as this soldier, the medical needs alone will exceed $395 billion.

Add to this the intensive psychological assistance, counseling, and possible deprogramming that the citizens of North Korea may need following almost 50 years of isolated and oppresive rule by the Kim Dynasty.

The dollar amount may be more than any one country, even the United States, to afford alone.

We need to prepare world leaders for the very real health concerns of North Koreans, if and when a military conflict occurs. This will get our medical community and organizations ready for the largest undertaking they have ever had.

For this will be a conflict that may start with soldiers, but won with doctors.


Ed Young holds a Masters in Education from Stetson University and a Florida teacher certificate in English, Social Studies, ESOL, Exception Student Education, Reading, Middle Grades Integrated Curriculum, and Educational Leadership. He has worked in public and private schools in Central Florida for the last fourteen years. His professional focus is working with learning disabled kids as well as students considered high risk. He is a longtime Seminole County resident, financial conservative, and advocate for conserving Florida’s natural resources. He serves as an elected Supervisor for the Seminole County Soil & Water Conservation District where he represents Group 4 and currently serves as their treasurer.