Friends in Health: DPRK

building trust, solidarity and friendship through healthcare


Improving the quality of healthcare for the people in North Korea




We hope to establish a network of physicians, students and volunteers that facilitates ongoing opportunities toward improving the quality of healthcare for the people in North Korea.


To provide resources and support for physicians, students and volunteers as they engage in the medical context of DPRK through medical conferences, foreign exchange programs and public health projects. To this end, FHD seeks to increase the exchange of medical knowledge and promote trusting relationships with healthcare professionals in North Korea.



Anyone who is passionate about improving healthcare in DPRK: Physicians, Students, Public Health Advocates, and Healthcare Workers from around the globe


Supporting healthcare workers and the healthcare system in the DPRK


Forming a friendship with partners in the DPRK and providing physical resources and exchanging the latest medical information and knowledge


Pyongyang International Neurosurgery Symposium

This past October, members of FHD organized the Pyongyang International Neurosurgical Symposium in DPRK. This was a cooperative effort with the DPRK Medical Association. Over the course of two days, DPRK neurosurgeons gave presentations on topics ranging from experiments on rat brain edema model to endoscopic surgery of the brain.  The eleven neurosurgeons from the international neurosurgical community gave presentations on how to treat spine fracture in resource-limited settings, damage control neurosurgery, key-hole craniotomy, among many others. The symposium was attended by sixty DPRK neurosurgeons. The official language was English.

Direct exchange between the international medical community and the DPRK physicians remains the best channel for flow of current medical knowledge and skills. The dialogues help reveal strengths as well as weaknesses within the DPRK healthcare system, opening up to possibilities for further collaboration.

DPRK Medical Association welcomes opportunities for the DPRK doctors to interact with the international medical community. FHD will provide support for obtaining invitations, visas, and conference planning for any medical group that is interested in travelling to DPRK.


Contact friendsinhealthdprk@gmail.com for questions.


Health Data for the DPRK

(provided by healthdata.org)

***Information provided by healthdata.org

***Information provided by healthdata.org

Click Below for More Information

Health Data North Korea

history of OUR organization

  • 2007
    • Korean-American neurosurgeon, Dr. Kee Park, makes contact with DPRK neurosurgeons
    • First trip to DPRK; met with officials and surgeons from PyongYang Medical College (PYMC)
  • 2008
    • DPRK neurosurgeon delegation visits USA
    • Korean-American neurosurgeons visit Pyongyang and perform joint surgeries with DPRK neurosurgeons and biannual trips begin
  • 2011
    • Project is named North Korea Doctor to Doctor (D2D) Initiative under the Korean American Medical Association (KAMA) and is opened to all specialties
  • 2013
    • Korean-American medical students make their first trip to Pyongyang
  • 2014
    • The first Pyongyang International Conference of Medical Students (PICoMS) takes place 
  • 2015
    • Friends in Health:DPRK is established

past projects

  • World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies Equipment Donation to Pyongyang Medical College 
  • Container from Norwegian Hospital delivered
  • Ultrasound machines brought from University of Pittsburgh
  • Supplying PYMC students textbooks

current projects

  • PICoMS 2016
  • Research and Publications - History of Neurosurgery in DPRK
  • Pyongyang International Medical Conference 2007-ongoing

future projects

  • Folic Acid fortified bread distribution to women wanting to have children in Wonsan, DPRK (joint project with DULA (UK) and KFPD (DPRK))
Each trip to North Korea for me is an opportunity to expand and transform my heart, by shedding its former prejudices and fears to share my life’s blessings
— Dr. Elizabeth Park M.D, 2014

read more on liz park's story

Her articles are published on iamkorean.com, The Lancet: Student, and GlobalHealthHub.org



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FHD Staff Members

Kee B Park MD

After graduating from Rutgers Medical School, Dr. Park trained in neurosurgery at the Temple University Hospital.  He left a successful private practice in 2008 to pursue his dream of serving the people in developing countries.  From 2009 to 2013, as the Director of Spine Surgery at Myungsung Christian Medical Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he helped train Ethiopian neurosurgery residents.  In August 2013, he moved to Cambodia with his family as the country representative for the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies to support training of Cambodian neurosurgery residents.

In 2007, Dr. Park visited the Pyongyang Medical College in Pyongyang, North Korea and established contact with DPRK neurosurgeons. When Dr. Park became the chair of the Global Outreach Committee for KAMA in 2011, he started the KAMA North Korea Doctor to Doctor Initiative to bring other Korean American doctors to support their colleagues in North Korea. He also implemented the Global Outreach Research Fellowship and Internship program to stimulate interest at the student level. The success of KAMA North Korean programs has attracted much attention and resulted in collaborations with other organizations such as PUST and DULA.

Elizabeth Park MD 

Elizabeth Park/박은경  is current advisor for Friends in Health:DPRK. She traveled to Pyongyang for the first time in May 2014 with KAMA and launched the 1st PICoMS in Pyongyang in September 2014. She graduated from Boston University School of Medicine in 2015 with an MD and will be pursuing a residency in Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital. Her previous global health experiences include an internship at the WHO Reproductive Health and Research Department in 2008, spearheading her medical school's first global health elective/pathway in 2010, and working as a research student on mHealth/Telemedicine projects with the Botswana-UPenn Partnership in Gaborone, Botswana from 2013-2014. Her interests include North Korea medical education, access to information in resource limited settings, and health systems improvement.


Henny hong

Henny is a third year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine. She is a graduate of Wellesley College with a BS in Economics and holds a Masters degree in Biomedical Sciences from Tufts University School of Medicine. After her visit to Pyongyang in 2005 with Good Neighbors, a South Korean NGO and an affiliate of UNICEF, she has been looking for ways to make an impact in the lives of North Koreans. Now with her career path set in medicine, she seeks to facilitate the medical mission projects and goals under KAMA and Friends in Health: DPRK.  

owen lee-park

Owen Lee-Park, a recent graduate from Cornell University, majored in Human Biology, Health and Society. He has been working with Dr. Kee Park on several projects involving DPRK since the summer of 2013. He went to Pyungyang with Dr. Park and several other medical professionals in September of 2013, where he also had the opportunity to interview the head of the country's Neurosurgical Society. Owen plans to continue working for KAMA as Co-Executive Director of Friends in Health: DPRK, and he also plans on attending medical school starting year 2016.

elese lau

Elese Lau became a part of Friends in Health because of her passion for global health and desire to touch lives with medicine. As she worked in disenfranchised neighborhoods and traveled to developing countries, she has seen both the many needs and innovative endeavors to provide health care for people. As such, she is excited to be part of this effort in advancing and sharing medical progress through Friends in Health. Having recently graduated from Wheaton College, she plans to attend George Washington University for a Masters in Public Health and continue her education with medical school.

yeonwoo lee

Yeon Woo is a 3rd year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine. She studied medical science and medical anthropology as an undergraduate at Boston University and holds a strong interest in public health issues, particularly how access to adequate health care is affected by societal and cultural values. Her previous public health experiences include interning at the Maternal and Child Health department at the WHO and working as an advocate at Health Leads at Boston Medical Center. Outside of these interests, Yeon Woo enjoys writing and producing music. 

John seo

John Seo is a current website co-administrator for Friends in Health:DPRK. He is a MD Candidate at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. He graduated from Binghamton University with a BS in Accounting and Business Management. Outside of his classes, he spends most of his time contributing to the local student-run clinic, teaching anatomy to PA and PT students, and handling the finances for Downstate’s Global Health Club. His current interests in global health have sparked his involvement in various organizations, especially those directed towards work impacting the DPRK.


Sophie Park is a senior at Hope International School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Since 2013, when she first travelled to DPRK as a KAMA Global Outreach intern, she has continued to go biannually, participating in the Pyongyang International Conference of Medical Students and coauthoring an article on the medical history of DPRK. She is now a social media coordinator for Friends in Health for DPRK and hopes to spread awareness about the organisation and the North Korean people through photography.

Sharon Kim


Sharon is an undergraduate senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Biological Basis of Behavior and Healthcare Management. She is fascinated by translational biomedicine and is currently researching therapies for neuroblastoma in a pediatric oncology lab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. As project leader of the UPenn Science Diplomacy Group, she believes that medical and scientific collaborations have potential in building trust and strengthening relationships with North Korea. 


Ye jin is currently enrolled at Harvard Medical School. She read for a MSc in Medical Anthropology and MPP at the University of Oxford on the Rhodes Scholarship. She graduated from Rice University with a BS in Biology and BA in Policy Studies (Global Health). She is an aspiring physician policymaker, and her aim is to help improve North Korea's healthcare system. Ye jin taught a course at Rice called 'Demystifying DPRK' under the academic supervision of Dr. Malcolm Gillis. From mid-2014 to early-2015, she served as Program Director in the Office of Global Research and Development at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.