Kim Jong Suk Sanatorium refuses entry to honorary soldiers who cannot afford payment

[As Heard in North Korea]
Lee Sang Yong  |  2017-06-16 11:37
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"As Heard in North Korea" articles contain radio programming content broadcast by Unification Media Group [UMG], an independent multimedia consortium targeting North Korean citizens.

North Korea officially has a policy of universal free medical care described in its constitution. However in reality, most healthcare facilities will refuse even honorary soldiers who are considered model citizens if they lack the funds to pay for their own treatment. 
The Kim Jong Suk Sanatorium is located in Kyongsong County, North Hamgyong Province. The facility features a combination of climate therapy, mud therapy, and physical therapy focusing on spa treatments. In addition, the facility has highly trained medical staff on hand to treat various diseases, including disorders of the nervous system, circulatory system, and digestive system.

Recently, a Chongjin resident visited the facility to request hospitalization, but was refused registration on account of a lack of funds. 

"The nursing staff demanded 300,000 KPW as the entrance fee. When the resident confessed that he had no money, the hospital immediately turned him away, ignoring his pleas," a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on June 5.
The resident appealed to the hospital noting his status as an honorary soldier who saved his comrades by blocking a grenade with his own body, but to little avail. The nursing staff responded that, "There are numerous people here who went through similar circumstances. We cannot provide free care to every honorary soldier," effectively humiliating the resident.
The instructions of the Supreme Leader are often ignored outright when money issues are involved. Kim Jong Il issued instructions to "manage the facility well as a cultural resting home for all people," in 2009 during his local inspection, but his orders are not being followed.
"The facility officially states that national heroes and innovators are accepted first but the recent incident showed that this is not the case. The authorities instruct nursing homes across the country to take in those patients who devote their lives toward the national interest, but this is not being realized," the source said.

Thus, the Kim Jong Suk Sanatorium has long been considered a nursing home only for Party cadres and the rich. Such individuals can afford to pay the exorbitant entrance fees, which are unimaginable for ordinary residents.
A separate source in North Hamgyong Province added, "It has become a distant dream for ordinary people who get by on daily work to receive treatment at a nursing home. North Korea is not a socialist paradise as it claims, or an official capitalist country, and has become a society with a vague identity with these two systems being confusingly mixed."

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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