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Page history last edited by happylosheng@gmail.com 15 years, 3 months ago





S.K. Jung
























The formation of home for people affected by HD in Korea



 President for Socio-economic Development , IDEA International

                                                        & President of IDEA Korea





Like Taiwan's Lo Sheng Sanatorium, the Sorok Island National Hospital is Korea's only Hansen's Disease hospital and is also the place of residence for the elderly affected by Hansen's disease (HD). During the Japanese forced occupation in Korea, for the first time, the Sorok Island charity medical center (Current Sorok National Hospital) was originally established in accordance with the Japanese policy to eradicate HD and began to isolate those with  HD. Sorok Island Charity Hospital became a government run hospital in 1934, but this was due to the result of strict forced isolation policies and the population of 742 those affected by HD in 1930 increased to 6136 by 1940. However, Sorok Hospital was not established for the purpose of treatment but this was rather to isolate people with HD, and their rights regarding forced sterilization, forced abortion, human body experiment and forced labor were not protected and the number of those with HD discharged from the hospital after treatment was extremely rare.






In 1945, after the liberation from Japan, the patients on the island tried to resolve the issue of their cruel treatment but 84 patients were murdered by the staffs in the middle of struggle between the staffs in the hospital. They were only a scape goat. As a result, they have kept isolated until the Infectious Disease Prevention Law was amended in 1963. After the law was amended, it was possible for cured persons to return to society, and as the economic independence program of those affected by HD on Sorok Island, a land reclamation project in Omado was initiated. However, the prejudice made by the Japanese occupation was even stronger and as a result, ex-patients were not able to live in the general society but they had to live in resettlement villages (R.V), and those who could not go to the R.V had no choice but to remain on Sorok Island. Furthermore, due to opposition against the neighboring people, the land reclamation program ended up being taken over by the government. Ultimately, because of discrimination and prejudice, those who were medically cured of the disease could not return to their home and had to stay in the Sorok Island hospital. So Sorok Island became their home.






The hospital at the centre of Sorok Island is flanked by the villages for people affected by HD towards the left and the rear, and a welfare center, church and cathedral are nearby. While this place is a part of Korea, it has been a place for those affected by HD nearly for 90 years due to their cruel treatment and has become a home for them. This was recognized by the Korean government which gave them the right to residence and supported them with welfare and medical treatment.






However, the population of 6254 of those affected by HD in 1940 sharply decreased to 613 by January, 2009 and with the aging population, whose average age is 73, the government is deliberating how to operate the island in the future. Despite the decreasing number of those affected by HD, it is still recognized their right to residence on the island is important as ever and because of the sympathy from the government, Sorok Island Hospital and by the general society, forced movement off the island seems unlikely. Impact on lawsuit for forced segregation against Japanese government starting in 2004and a 2005 research report by the National Human Rights Commission on the actual condition of those affected by HD, and with the requests of those affected by HD, there was an investigation of damages against those affected by HD from the government, and a law was established to compensate for those victims. In particular, the human rights violations against those affected by HD will be written in the law as a lesson for future generations, and memorial hall also will be built in Sorok Island. So it can become educational for future generations to cherish the memory of those affected by HD.




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