From the archives, 1959: Pusan center helps disabled to walk again
Stars and Stripes July 18, 2023
This article first appeared in the Stars and Stripes Pacific edition, Jan. 12, 1959. It is republished unedited in its original form.
PUSAN — In almost four years of bitter warfare against communist invaders of their homeland, countless Republic of Korea fighting men were killed, wounded or disabled.
Many survivors of the Korean war are still disabled — hobbling on shattered limbs, trying to eke out a living with missing arms or legs or depending on relatives for charity to stay alive.
In this southern Korean city, the National Rehabilitation Center is the only institution of its kind on the peninsula dedicated solely to the goal of helping disabled Korean veterans to help themselves.
And the medical experts here have taken upon themselves the additional task of finding jobs for those disabled who have attained relative dexterity with artificial limbs and have learned a trade at the center.
In the five years the National Rehabilitation Center has been at work, more than 24,000 disabled Koreans have passed through the foundation. Eighty percent of these have been veterans of Korean fighting.
Others are Korean civilians — mostly children — suffering from the dread, crippling effects of polio.
The hospital was built in 1958 with UNKRA and American-Korean Foundation funds and is dedicated to two distinct phases of aid and recovery.
Patients in the rehabilitation center who are missing limbs have artificial legs or arms made for them in shops operated by the institute. More than 1,500 such devices have been made in the past two-and-a-half years.
After a patient has been fitted with the proper limbs and has learned to use them properly, he is enrolled in one of the vocational training courses conducted by the center. He remains in the school for about one year until he learns a trade.
A current job shortage in Korea has kept all graduates of the training course from being employed, but job placement men of the center boast that over one-half of the rehabilitated men coming from the center are now at work.
Taught at the trade school are drafting, carpentry, shoemaking, barbering, commercial art and sheet metal work.
Incorporated with the craft training and the fitting of artificial limbs is the care and physical therapy treatment of the handicapped.
Included in this phase of the center’s activities are many children who have been stricken with polio.
Staffed by 98 Koreans and two Europeans, the institute is still the only center of its type in Korea, but more projects similar to the National Rehabilitation Center are being planned. The Pusan establishment is being used as a protype for the institutes in the making.
Directed by Mun Yung Kim, the center in Pusan has a capacity of about 300. Newer and more modern structures are gradually replacing the outmoded facilities.
On the staff are two doctors certified and trained by the Western world in the filed of fitting artificial limbs. Dr. Chung Hie Oh and Dr. Hung Tong Chun.
Representing UNKRA at the center are Ambrose Vear, chief advisor, and Miss Elin Aas, physical therapist.
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