On Janurary 20, Juche 41 (1952) when the Fatherland Liberation War was at its height, an offi cial of the Ministry of Public Health was summoned by Supreme Commander Kim Il Sung to the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army.
He felt guilty because he, some time earlier, had demanded quite a lot of fund in a report he had submitted regarding measures to be taken to deal with the US imperialists’ atrocities of germ warfare. He was sorry that the demand had added to the worry of the Supreme Commander, who was burdened with the command of the front.
He was, however, surprised to hear Kim Il Sung say, “We treasure the human life more than anything else. Our people are now struggling devotedly both at the front and in the rear for the final victory in the war. We should spare nothing for the people who are fighting valiantly in the spirit of lofty patriotism and mass heroism. We should unsparingly give whatever the people need.”
Glancing at the official with a smile, the national leader changed the topic and asked how much money the people paid for treatment.
The official answered that the blue- and white-collar workers were treated gratis under the national insurance system, that their dependents bore some expenses of the medicines for clinical treatment and that the peasants and private merchants and manufacturers paid for out-patient treatment.
Listening to him, the Supreme Commander said that although they were rather in a difficult condition they had to introduce a free medical care system to protect the people’s lives and promote their health.
The official fell in a daze for a while. Dubious of his ears, he looked up at Kim Il Sung again. For his long career in the field of public health, he knew very well how much money was needed for a free medical care system.
Ten months later Cabinet Decision No. 203 titled “On Introducing a Universal Free Medical Care System” was proclaimed on November 13, Juche 41 (1952). The people’s jubilation swept the country and their spirit soared up striking terror into the enemy.
The world mass media unstintingly praised the decision that came out of unremitting bombings and explosions, and cast ridicules upon the war maniacs, saying, “When the US is devastating Korea by showers of bombs, Korea has fl ailed the US in the face with Blockbuster No. 203 equivalent to ten atomic bombs.”