Towards understanding tuberculosis-related issues in North Korea: A narrative review of North Korean literature

Chang Jun Lee, Sungwhan Lee, Hee Jin Kim, Young Ae Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: North Korea is one of the 30 countries with the highest tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant TB burdened. To understand the medical issues and research trends associated with TB in North Korea, we performed a comprehensive review of articles related to clinical and laboratory research on TB published in North Korean medical journals. Methods: We reviewed all types of TB-related articles published in nine North Korean medical journals (Yebang ŭihak: Preventive medicine; Koryo ŭihak: Korea Medicine; Chosŏn ŭihak: Chosun Medicine; Naekwa: Internal Medicine; Soa, sanbuinkwa: Pediatrics, Obstetrics, and Gynecology, Surgery; Ŭihak: Medicine; Kich’o ŭihak: Basic Medicine; and Chosŏn yakhak: Chosun Pharmacy). We classified the articles according to the type and field of study and analyzed the data qualitatively to gain insights. Results: We reviewed 106 articles (one- or two-page length) written in Korean, including reviews (n=43), original articles (n=52), and case reports (n=8). They were classified as follows: articles on diagnosis (n=52, 49%) and treatment (n=39, 37%). None of the studies investigated the commercialized molecular diagnosis systems such as Xpert MTB/RIF. Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course was reported as the basic treatment approach. Furthermore, six studies used Korean traditional medicines for treating TB, with one of them containing snake venom. Conclusion: The articles were not sufficiently detailed. Original articles on the treatment of multi-drug resistant TB were not found, and those on latent tuberculosis infection and nontuberculous mycobacteria were limited. To understand the current medical issues associated with TB in North Korea, articles from these nine journals were not sufficient.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present study was supported under the framework of the international cooperation program managed by the National Research Foundation of Korea (2019K1A5A2077463, FY2019). The funding source had no role in the study process, including the design, sample collection, analysis, or interpretation of the results.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 The Korean Academy of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases


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