"I met Bok-Shin for the first time in January 2012 while treating patients in the Northeast Development Zone of North Korea known as Rason. Having cerebral palsy and being unable to even move her fingers, Bok-Shin was carried to the hospital on the back of her grandmother. Her grandmother was sustaining her life, as she daily chewed her food for her in order for her to swallow and eat.
Just after a few days of treatment, Bok-Shin already showed signs of improvement as she regained the ability to mover her fingers and clench her hands into a fist. Her facial expressions relaxed, depicting a new found peace. Then, Bok-Shin relocated to Pyongyang in April 2013. At that time, the Pyongyang Spine Research Team started concentrating on her treatment. Our team rejoiced in the continual improvements Bok-Shin was showing over the span of her treatment.
However, there arose a problem within the hospital room that she was sharing with eight other children. It was difficult for others to observe Bok-Shin’s grandmother changing her six year-old granddaughter’s diapers and chewing her food for her. Due to many complaints, Bok-Shin’s grandmother quit Bok-Shin’s treatment and returned to Rason in June of 2013. As a result, our Spine Rehabilitation Center changed our blueprint to create private rooms for quadriplegic patients such as Bok-Shin.
Then, in December of 2013, our team met Bok-Shin’s father in Rason. Our team members encouraged her father that the Spine Rehabilitation Center is striving to make a private room for Bok-Shin in our building currently under construction. We pleaded for him to wait just a little bit longer. But, with tears running down his face, Bok-Shin’s father exclaimed in anguish, “Bok-Shin is no longer with us!”
Because of my encounter with Bok-Shin, a new concentration in pediatric cerebral palsy therapy was birthed as part of the Pyongyang Spine Research Center. This new specialty received official approval from the North Korean government. Consequently, we were able to serve, even if just for a short time, frail, little Bok-Shin before she left this world for the next.
As I was treating Bok-Shin, I knew how to make her better. I wanted to give Bok-Shin the great gift of health. In contrast, it was Bok-Shin who was the one to give us the greatest gift of all. She gave us the gift of opening our eyes and hearts to the need around us, being the catalyst to bring more healing and restoration to children, just like her, throughout the entire nation of North Korea."
— Dr. Stephen Yoon