I know most people worry about travelling in North Korea. They always think this country difficult to visit.
This is my first trip to North Korea with my team from Children’s Surgical Center. We heard this country could not use internet and international call; this is why we worry how to communicate with our relatives or friends in Cambodia and we also concern how to travel in North Korea.
I tried to search internet and youtube about Pyong Yang and other places in North Korea I think I can go to visit and join in anesthesia for cleft lip and palate surgery there, but I still worry anesthesia machines, materials and equipment for safety anesthesia. Also, I don’t know the level of North Korean anesthetists and how they cooperate with me.
One day I visited North Korean Embassy in Cambodia and I met an officer he told me and Dr Ratha that do not worry to travel to his country. This country is security than Phnom Penh. This is encouraged me and other three doctors namely Dr Ratha, Dr Leng and Dr Rith decide to go to North Korea for the first humanitarian mission of cleft lip and palate repair in order to improve the quality of life of Korean children.
When my team with Mr Lee Seok-Hee, Mr Seok Hee’s wife and Mr Collin arrived in Pyong Yang we are happy when all Korean team warm welcome us. This city is wonderful with good environment; therefore, I think this city has good hospital with anesthesia machines that I could run safety for patients.
First day I went to the operation theater I saw some of anesthetic medicines made in North Korea, but write in Korean language so I tried to understand and calculated from percentage to milligram or microgram that I could use. All anesthetist doctors, anesthetist nurses and scrape nurses are friendly and good cooperation with us. We gave them anesthetic technic for Cleft lip and cleft palate repair. From the first day we continue anesthesia for surgery until finished day with the result of 36 surgeries for 34 patients.
This first humanitarian mission sound that all North Korean leaders such as KFDP director, Okryu Children’s hospital director and our team led by Mr Lee Seok-Hee satisfied for successfully completed this mission. Particularly, children’s parents expressed their felling were very happy and grateful thank to our team and hospital staff.
Lastly, I would like to give deep thank to Dr Jim Gallogly, CSC’s CEO and Mrs Soo, Mr Collin always support and encouraged us during our life in North Korea. Also, I would like to give my thankful to Okryu Children’s hospital director, his staff and KFDP director for kindly supported our mission from the start to the end.
Dr Suos Loeung Sokhalay
Anesthesiologist, Children’s Surgical Center, Cambodia