Korean J Med Hist.  2017 Dec;26(3):379-416. 10.13081/kjmh.2017.26.379.

The Formation of the Military Medical System of the Korean People's Army and the Military Medical Officer

  • 1Research Institute of Comparative History and Culture, Hanyang University, KOREA. musoyu53@gmail.com


The military medical system of the Korean People's Army (KPA) first appeared in August 1946 when a central military hospita was established at the headquarters. Inside the KPA, the military medical and veteran services were first established in February 1948. The military medical officers of the KPA were those who were initially engaged in North Korea's health care sector. Most of the early military medical officers were those who had been trained in the Japanese medical system before liberation and were surgeons. After the establishment of the government in September 1948, Lee Dongwha rapidly introduced the medical system of the Soviet army into the KPA. The KPA military medical system was a mix of Soviet, Japanese and Chinese military medical systems. The medical section of the KPA was similar to that of the Japanese army, and the medical section of the lower army was similar to that of the Soviet army. The stretcher platoon of the KPA were similar to those of the Japanese and Chinese armies. The KPA mainly used Japanese medical equipment at the beginning, and after the establishment of the North Korean regime in September 1948, they were gradually replaced with Soviet products. The military medical office of the KPA were equipped with treatment rooms, laboratories, hospitals, pharmacy, and inpatient rooms. The military medical office purchased medical journals and specimens for medical research and set up a separate research fund. In addition, the military medical office was equipped with a laboratory for medical experiments and raised laboratory animals. The KPA military medical system was specialized in the fields of infectious disease prevention and preventive medicine. At the time, infectious disease in North Korea was mainly caused by bacteria and viruses in unsanitary living environments. The KPA set up a special anti-infectious disease department in consideration of the soldiers living in the collective facilities. The second characteristic of the KPA military medical system is preventive medicine. Since early 1946, North Korea has been interested in preventive medicine and has established various medical facilities and personnel. In line with this history of preventive medicine, the preventive department was installed in the KPA military medical system.


North Korea; Korean People's Army(朝鮮人民軍); Military medical system; Military medicinre; Military hospital; Soviet army; Japanese army; Infectious disease; Preventive medicine; Longjing Medical College(龍井醫科大學)

MeSH Terms

Animals, Laboratory
Asian Continental Ancestry Group
Communicable Diseases
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Financial Management
Health Care Sector
Hospitals, Military
Military Personnel*
Preventive Medicine
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