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Korean J Med Educ. 2016 Dec;28(4):373-380. Epub 2016 Dec 1.

North Korean refugee doctors' preliminary examination scores.

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Department of Family Medicine, Kangwon National University Hospital, Chuncheon, Korea.
Department of Medical Education, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea.



Although there have been studies emphasizing the re-education of North Korean (NK) doctors for post-unification of the Korean Peninsula, study on the content and scope of such re-education has yet to be conducted. Researchers intended to set the content and scope of re-education by a comparative analysis for the scores of the preliminary examination, which is comparable to the Korean Medical Licensing Examination (KMLE).


The scores of the first and second preliminary exams were analyzed by subject using the Wilcoxon signed rank test. The passing status of the group of NK doctors for KMLE in recent 3 years were investigated. The multiple-choice-question (MCQ) items of which difficulty indexes of NK doctors were lower than those of South Korean (SK) medical students by two times of the standard deviation of the scores of SK medical students were selected to investigate the relevant reasons.


The average scores of nearly all subjects were improved in the second exam compared with the first exam. The passing rate of the group of NK doctors was 75%. The number of MCQ items of which difficulty indexes of NK doctors were lower than those of SK medical students was 51 (6.38%). NK doctors' lack of understandings for Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures, Therapeutics, Prenatal Care, and Managed Care Programs was suggested as the possible reason.


The education of integrated courses focusing on Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures and Therapeutics, and apprenticeship-style training for clinical practice of core subjects are needed. Special lectures on the Preventive Medicine are likely to be required also.


Clinical competency; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Foreign medical graduates; Refugees

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