Ryu Su Ok, a nurse of Baby-care Department No. 1 of the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital, derives pleasure and pride of life from taking devoted care of babies. Ryu never thinks of her life apart from looking after babies.

First Nurse

Ryu Su Ok ( fi rst right) is engrossed in the training of nurses.

Ryu Su Ok ( first right) is engrossed in the training of nurses.

On February 4, 1963 a matter for congratulation happened to the family of woman war veteran Pak Yun Ryop: she had a lovely daughter. Previously Pak had given birth to three boys, so the daughter soon became a beloved child of the whole family. After discussion her parents named her Su Ok in the meaning of a beautiful jewel. Su Ok grew well with envy at nothing under the care of her parents. As she attained her years of discretion she heard from her mother what had happened in her life. And her story of her beginning to work as a nurse from the period of the Fatherland Liberation War (1950–1953) inspired the daughter to determine to dedicate herself to the sake of people like her mother had done. One January day in 1980, before graduating from middle school, Su Ok heard the news that a maternity hospital equipped with modern incubators would be built in Pyongyang. So she unhesitatingly wrote in bold letters “Nurse of Pyongyang Maternity Hospital” in the blank for hope of her diploma of graduation. On July 30 of that year the ceremony took place for the completion of the hospital with the attendance of its doctors and nurses including Su Ok at the young age of 17.

Like Their Own Mothers

After Su Ok began to work as a nurse, anxiety got the better of her rather than self-confidence. Can I take good care of babies ? She worried inwardly, for she knew she had poor experience and skill. Moreover, she had to look after abnormal babies, victims of premature delivery or undergrowth. Her face often showed feelings of disappointment and apprehension. Then chief nurse Ri Hye Gyong with rich experience in clinical practice seemed to read her mind and told her, “Determination is the first in doing everything. What is most important is to take care of the babies as well as their parents should do them. Try to look after them like their own mothers should do. Then the babies will be all right.” From then on Su Ok strove to do as the chief nurse had advised: She read many books without wasting time, and in her spare time she learned from other nurses’ good experience. She also studied foreign languages and read foreign medical books avidly. Back home after work she even conducted simulated clinical training with the help of her mother cutting hours of sleeps. In the course of this she grew in experience and improved her skill. At last she became the best nurse in the hospital. The chief nurse’s advice served as a mental support for Su Ok to dedicate herself to the care of babies for 38 years.

Noble Title

At 11 pm on January 2, 1990 a pregnant woman in a critical state owing to an accident was rushed to the hospital. The woman gave birth to a child in a delivery room prematurely, about 200 days after pregnancy. The condition of the baby was very bad at the moment. It weighed two kilograms or less, and its pulse and blood pressure were abnormal. Its respiration was not good. So the baby was immediately put in an incubator followed by intensive care for it.

The doctors held consultations about the condition of the woman and her baby several times a day, and lots of tonics and medicines for promoting nutrition were administered to them every day. Just 100 days after the beginning of the intensive care the woman and the baby left the hospital in good health. The nurse who had taken care of the baby was Su Ok. This led to her friendly relations with the family of the baby whose father is Ri Song Chol, who was working at the Pyongyang Textile Machine Factory.

The baby’s parents named it Ha Na (oneness) in the meaning that its life and Su Ok’s are just one. From then on Ha Na Story about a Nurse was more attached to the nurse than her own relatives, and when she reached the age of discretion she began to call the nurse mum . Part of Su Ok’s diary reads, “Mum! The most beautiful and noblest word in the world would be mother . This is why people feel the greatest joy and happiness of life before the word mum . How happy I am to be able to mirror myself in this friendly and affectionate, noble word without hesitation!” Ha Na is working as a doctor at the maternity hospital following in the footsteps of the “mum” who is just to turn sixty. The “mum” has lots of children like Ha Na.