Journal List > J Korean Acad Nurs Adm > v.25(4) > 1135001

Kim, Jung, Choi, Chae, Chung, Chung, and Piao: An Estimation of Supply and Demand for Primary Healthcare Nursing Workforce in the North Korean Region after Korean Reunification



This study was done to estimate supply and demand for nursing workforce to provide community-based primary healthcare in the North Korean region to cost-efficiently narrow the health gap between the two Koreas in case of a Korean reunification.


To understand the nursing education system and current state of nursing workforce in North Korea, the authors interviewed six North Korean defectors who had worked as nurses in North Korea. Based on the interview results and literature review, the supply and demand for the primary healthcare nursing workforce that would be needed after Korean reunification were estimated


Currently, a total of 2,100 to 2,700 North Korean nurses were estimated to have graduated from nursing schools with a 2 year curriculum or completed 6-month military nurse training courses every year. The projected number of nurses in demand to provide primary health care ranged from 84,160 to 105,200 and the shortage would be between 31,586 and 52,626.


An active utilization of the North Korean nursing workforce to improve the health of North Koreans after reunification will be the best way to reduce the reunification cost which will be inflicted mainly on South Korea.

Figures and Tables

Table 1

General Characteristics of Interviewed North Korean Defectors (N=6)

Table 2

Reorganized Nursing Education System in North Korea based on Interviews with North Korean Defectors

Table 3

An Estimation of Current Nurse Supply in North Korea

Table 4

An Estimated Demand and Supply of Primary Healthcare Nurse in North Korea after Reunification (Population: 25,248K)


K=1,000; PHN=Primary healthcare nurse; RU=Residential unit (Rinminban). One residential unit is comprised of 20~30 households. One household has been assumed to have 4 family members for the estimation.


Funding for this article was provided by the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (IPUS) at Seoul National University under the project “Laying the Groundwork for Unification”.


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Jinhyun Kim

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