Current status and prospects of exchange of health officials from South and North Korea through nongovernmental organizations
Journal of the Korean Medical Association (대한의사협회지)
Journal of the Korean Medical Association (대한의사협회지), Vol.56(5) : 375~382, 2013
South Korea's health care non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played a crucial role in South-North relations, for a formal intergovernmental relationship is difficult to establish and also easily breaks down. Humanitarian assistance by NGOs in the health care sector is an area that receives wide support from South Korean society for its urgency and for its appeal to humanity. This humanitarian assistance started in the late 1990's and continued to grow until the late 2000's. This assistance continued throughout the tension between the two administrations that resulted in a radical decrease in overall assistance from South Korea to North Korea. However, concerns remain about the transparency and efficiency of NGO activities. In this article, the NGOs and their major activities are delineated, and South Korean legislation is examined. A current act, the Law on the Development of South and North Korean Relations serves as a basis for governmental regulation and support of NGO's. Humanitarian assistance in the healthcare area is directly related to the health of the North Korean people, and it should not be influenced by political changes. Long-term planning and close discussions between NGOs, their North Korean counterparts, and the South Korean government are needed. NGOs need to overcome their shortcomings such as a lack of expertise and shortage of financial support. For this, NGOs must improve their administration transparency and professionalism.