Journal List > J Korean Med Sci > v.33(27) > 1097442

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Hong: North Korean Medical Journals in the Galapagos
One article published in this issue of Journal of Korean Medical Science is reporting characteristics of 9 medical journals published in North Korea.1 The journals were in scopes of medicine in general, internal medicine, basic medicine, and major medical specialties. It is impossible to overview whole medical science in North Korea by this analysis but the articles deliver status of medical research and publishing in part. Another article analyzed reports on infectious diseases in 3 medical journals from North Korea, which compared publication frequencies of tuberculosis, malaria, and parasitic infections between South and North.2 The two articles reported that infectious diseases are major health problems in North Korea. Especially intestinal parasite infection is highly endemic in North Korea.23
All of the North Korean medical journals had unique uniform of similar layout, about one page length with 10 components in Korean. All of their texts were too short and simple to understand study design and rationale of their conclusions. Some articles had but most of them did not include English titles, author names, and abstract which are globally recommended in non-English journals. All of the characteristics demonstrate poor scientific base of medical research and out-of-date publishing.
In the past, intestinal parasites were highly transmitted in the region of East Asia including Japan, Korea, and China. However, at present, the parasites have been eliminated as a public health problem in this region except for North Korea.
North Korea remains as the Galapagos by isolation in two aspects; one is research and publishing medical journals and the other is high prevalence of intestinal parasites. Both are high priority to collaborate in the near future between South and North Korea.


Disclosure The author has no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.


1. Ha S, Yoon SJ, Chun BC, Kim KJ, Roh SY, Lee EJ, et al. Bibliographical characteristics of North Korean medical journals and articles. J Korean Med Sci. 2018; 33(27):e185.
2. Park DH, Choi MH, Lim AY, Shin HY. An analysis of infectious disease research trends in medical journals from North Korea. J Prev Med Public Health. 2018; 51(2):109–120.
3. Li S, Shen C, Choi MH, Bae YM, Yoon H, Hong ST. Status of intestinal helminthic infections of borderline residents in North Korea. Korean J Parasitol. 2006; 44(3):265–268.

Sung-Tae Hong

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