Medical and Social Services
Korea began to receive medical and social services grants-in-aid in the forms of emergency relief and basic necessities during and after the Korean War.
During the Korean War, 16 countries worldwide contributed their troops to the United Nations Forces on behalf of South Korea, while the five countries on the UN Security Council also provided medical aid.
In addition, numerous UN bodies sent medical supplies and dispatched doctors and nurses to Korea to provide emergency and other forms of medical care.
Medical support from the international community heightened during the reconstruction era of the mid- to late-1950s and continued well into the 1970s, with planned parenthood projects, motherhood support programs, and other basic healthcare systems, techniques, and facilities all a part of the support offered.
While the United States, Japan, and other countries worldwide continued to provide significant amounts of bilateral medical and social assistance for Korea during this period, Korea also received much support from a host of international organizations, including the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the UN Fund for Population Activities. Multiple nongovernmental organizations from other countries that were present in Korea during this period also provided active medical and social services.
2 Medical and Social Services Assistance
The dearth of records makes it difficult to ascertain all the important details of the medical and social services assistance that Korea received from various sources during this era. A government publication entitled Collection of Treaties on Healthcare
and the reports accompanying the 29th World Health Care Congress of 1976 provide a rough sketch of the aid that Korea received until the mid-1970s or so. The Korea Association of Voluntary Agencies (KAVA), however, has quite extensive records on the medical and social assistance provided by nongovernmental organizations.
Between 1947 and 1975, Korea received medical and social services assistance amounting to USD 575.1 million in total, including contributions from multilateral sources (e.g., the WHO) and bilateral sources (e.g., the United States Agency for International Development, or US AID) alike. However, the biggest source of medical assistance during this period was foreign nongovernmental organizations. These organizations together provided support worth USD 440.5 million, or 76 percent of the total aid that Korea received. Such foreign nongovernmental support continued well into the early 1990s, and in the end totaled USD 1.2 billion.
Important programs in this regard include the establishment of the National Medical Center with the help of the UNKRA and the three Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway); the Family Planning Support Project, established with the help of the UNFPA and the IPPF; and the Health and Sanitation Project and the Work for Food Program provided by the World Food Program (WFP).
The family planning project, which emerged in the 1970s, involved the participation of both multilateral and international organizations as well as bilateral cooperation agencies. Participating organizations included the UNFPA and the IPPF. The agreement with the UNFPA
systematized the project, and occasioned participation by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the American Population Association, and other such organizations. The UNFPA agreement earmarked USD 6.4 million for family planning, with USD 1.4 million put toward that purpose in 1974 alone.
The family planning project was a major success, but its long-term impact deserves a more in-depth and nuanced analysis, considering the situation in which Korea now finds itself, i.e. with a drastically declined birth rate and a surging older population.
The family planning project proceeded alongside the Work for Food Program and the Temporary Water Supply Improvement Project, on the basis of the aid agreement signed between Korea, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the WFP in 1968.
Accordingly, the WFP provided food worth USD 99 million in total, between 1969 and 1982.
<Details of Medical and Social Services Assistance>
(Unit: USD 1,000)
Note: 1. A council of Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian government officials and doctors formed for the creation of the National Medical Center in Korea.
Source: 29th World Health Care Congress Collection
, Ministry of Health and Society, May 1976.
Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, the UN Security Council convened two meetings, one on June 25, 1950, and the other two days later, on June 27. The Council declared the war a result of North Korea’s invasion of the South, and resolved to support the South. It adopted the Resolution of July 7, 1950, which exhorted UN member states to gather their military and non-military contributions to South Korea’s war effort under the US-led General Command. Under the Resolution, 16 countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada, the Republic of South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, Greece, the Netherlands, Colombia, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Belgium, and Luxembourg—deployed their troops, and Switzerland and numerous other countries provided emergency medical relief.
Agreement on a Population Program between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, signed in March 1974.
Basic Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the United Nations/ FAO World Food Program Concerning Assistance from the World Food Program, signed on May 3, 1968.
 International Development Statistics
Korea International Cooperation Agency. 2004. Study on Development Aid and Cooperation for South Korea: Size, Scope and Exemplary Effects. Seoul.