Current status and prospects of oral health services exchange from South and North Korea through nongovernmental organizations

비정부기구를 통한 남북한 구강보건의료 교류의 현황과 전망

  • Han, Dong-Hun (Department of Preventive and Social Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University) ;
  • Shin, Teo-Jeon (Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University) ;
  • Myoung, Hoon (Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University) ;
  • Lee, Seung-pyo (Department of Oral Anatomy, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University) ;
  • Kim, Chong-Chul (Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University)
  • 한동헌 (서울대학교 치의학대학원 예방치학교실) ;
  • 신터전 (서울대학교 치의학대학원 소아치과학교실) ;
  • 명훈 (서울대학교 치의학대학원 구강악안면외과학교실) ;
  • 이승표 (서울대학교 치의학대학원 구강해부학교실) ;
  • 김종철 (서울대학교 치의학대학원 소아치과학교실)
  • Received : 2015.06.22
  • Accepted : 2015.08.23
  • Published : 2015.10.01

Abstract

South Korea's oral health care non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played a crucial role in South-North relations, although a formal intergovernmental relationship is difficult to establish and also easily breaks down. Humanitarian assistance by NGOs in the oral health care sector is an area that receives wide support from South Korean society for its urgency and for its appeal to humanity. This humanitarian assistance started in the late 1990's and continued to grow until the late 2000's. This assistance continued throughout the tension between the two administrations that resulted in a radical decrease in overall assistance from South Korea to North Korea. However, concerns remain about the transparency and efficiency of NGO activities. In this article, the NGOs and their major activities are delineated, and South Korean legislation is examined. A current act, the Law on the Development of South and North Korean Relations serves as a basis for governmental regulation and support of NGO's. Humanitarian assistance in the oral healthcare area is directly related to the oral health of the North Korean people, and it should not be influenced by political changes. Long-term planning and close discussions between NGOs, their North Korean counterparts, and the South Korean government are needed. NGOs need to overcome their shortcomings such as a lack of expertise and shortage of financial support. For this, NGOs must improve their administration transparency and professionalism.

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