First Minister of Public Health

In August Juche 37 (1948), in the lead-up to the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a conference for the election of deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly was held under the guidance of Comrade Kim Il Sung.

Among the delegates was Ri Pyong Nam. Born in December 1903 into a family engaged in farming while curing illnesses with the traditional therapy, he set his heart on medical science in those days of Japanese military occupation, and won the degree of Doctor of Medicine by presenting a paper on the constitutional excellence unique to the Korean nation. However, on the “charge” of propagating the superiority of the Korean nation, he suffered persecution from the Japanese imperialists and had to run a private hospital after cutting his connections with the academic circles.

Meeting him during a break of the conference, Kim Il Sung encouraged him to work harder in the future. 

Later, Kim Il Sung met him again, and said that he, who had lived with national conscience and constancy, could perform the duty of Minister of Public Health of the unified central government of Korea, and nominated him as the first Minister of Public Health of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Impressed by the leader’s deep trust, Ri Pyong Nam made up his mind to live as a genuine health worker of the country and the people.

In autumn Juche 75 (1986), many years after his death, Kim Il Sung had his remains entombed at the newly-built Patriotic Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang, with other revolutionary fighters who had worked devotedly for the Party and revolution, the country and the people in their lives.