One August day in 1975, Chairman Kim Jong Il was informed that three workers at a coal mine in the northern part of the country were in a critical condition.
The patients’ situation was hopeless–third degree burns all over the body and in a coma; there appeared to be no chance of reviving them.
That evening Kim Jong Il called an official.
“Do you know that the lives of the workers at the Sanghwa Youth Coal Mine are in jeopardy?”
“Yes, I do. I have been told about the accident.”
“Then, why did you not notify me immediately?”
“I was afraid it might cause you anxiety.”
“What do you mean? In such critical circumstances, is my anxiety a problem? What is more important now than to save them?”
“I made a mistake.”
“Well, what measures have you taken?”
“I called the provincial Party committee and urged it to act.”
For a while he was unable to speak, and then he said:
I had told you over and over again that we should cherish warm humane feelings. I wonder when you will come to your senses. The patients are in a critical condition; what do you mean by only calling the provincial Party committee and the Ministry of Public Health? People call our Party the mother party and follow it faithfully. Do you have an iota of motherly love in you?
The official could not raise his head.
Kim Jong Il told the official to take emergency steps immediately to save the patients, stressing that the best doctors and necessary medicines should be made available. And even though it was late at night, he ordered a plane to be dispatched to the coal mine.
But the heavy rain prevented a civilian plane from taking off. So Kim Jong Il ordered a military plane to be dispatched instead.
Informed that the patients were suffering from swelling, Kim Jong Il said that watermelon and beer were known to be effective for reducing swelling. So he ordered watermelons and beer as well as medicines to be sent to the patients that very day by helicopter.
Thanks to these emergency measures, the patients soon recovered.
He ordered another helicopter to be sent, saying that for their complete recovery, they should be taken to a large hospital equipped with modern facilities where they could undergo intensive care.