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Planting a Hope in Iraq with Oriental Medicine

Posted October. 09, 2003 22:41,   


“I am proud of myself as a doctor who cures Iraqi citizens suffering from the war and also proud to be a soldier in the army of the Republic of Korea.”

In the steaming heat, 28-year-old Suh Young-tae who belongs to the medical unit ‘Jema’, has been caring for Iraqi people with Oriental medicine, whose treatment is the sole one among hundreds of dispatched doctors last April.

Corporal Suh said, “I’ve been always tied up here, however I also feel a true happiness when seeing the smiling face of Iraqi people after the treatment.” Suh had graduated Kyungsan University specializing in oriental medicine, acquired a certificate of oriental medical doctor, and then voluntarily enrolled in the ‘Jema’ Unit, where he is taking an active role as the one and only ‘oriental medical officer’.

“I have a desire to spread the superiority of oriental medicine all around the world. But I also enrolled as a recruit for dispatch without any hesitation, because I was fully convinced of the purpose of the medical support as a humanitarian aspect.” he said.

For the past five months, up to 660 patients including local citizen, allied armies, and Korean armies have been treated under his care. At first, ‘oriental medicine’ was not only unfamiliar but also hard to understand by different language, and therefore he only had few patients. However, some patients who had experienced an improvement after being cured informed the excellence of oriental treatment, and thus, more and more patients are coming to see him.

Especially, after a seven-year-old Iraqi boy having suffered from a rare ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’ became much healthier under Suh’s treatment early last month, there are now around 20-30 patients everyday who wait for his remedy.

There are more stories. Doctors of the local Nasiriya doctor’s association come to see him to learn oriental medicine, and even more allied armies prefer being treated by Suh than by their own hospital doctors.

Corporal Suh revealed, “I thought enrollment for dispatch was my best choice when hearing that the boy’s father, with tearful eyes, told me, ‘You gave us a new hope’.”

Corporal Suh is facing a shift change with the next dispatch troop and will return to his home country on October 22. “It is painful to leave patients who need more than six months’ long-term care”, he said, adding, “I will keep detailed records of treatment for every patient, and carefully hand over to my successor for the smooth treatment for all of them.”

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com