New York Times, Date Unknown
 

Record of Medical Forces In Korea Held Unexcelled

 

Military's Mission Includes Also Relief and Rehabilitation for Nation of 28,000,000

 
SEOUL, Korea, March 14- Every American can take merited pride in the unexcelled record that our medical forces have made here in Korea. They have provided our fighting men with the finest care known in military history. Only by seeing this war-torn city first-hand, however, can one fully realize that the mission of our military forces here is far more than logistical support of our fighting men.
 
They have the added responsibility for the relief and rehabilitation of a nation of 28,000,000 people. No military force has had a graver or more significant responsibility. The way in which this responsibility has been accepted and the results achieved makes one proud to be an American.
 
Picture the city of Seoul with a pre-war population of 1,500,000. Four times this city has changed hands after the bloodiest type of fighting. As a result, 4,000 homes have been destroyed and all public utilities and industries were either obliterated or seriously damaged. Smallpox, typhoid and typhus rates skyrocketed and thousands of persons froze or starved to death.
 
As military necessity prevents thousands of refugees who went south during the fighting from returning, the city's population is now about 700,000. Through the efforts of United Nations forces and Republic of Korea, public facilities have been restored, epidemic diseases reduced to an infinitesimal number and the general population provided with a minimum maintenance diet.
 
This writer and a mission from the newly formed American-Korean Foundation visited this week a handful of institutions in Seoul that are attempting-without adequate facilities, staff, money, medicine or sometimes even food-to meet these problems. Here is what we saw:
 
In a Methodist orphanage situated in a former Buddhist temple, a group of children sat cross-legged in their stocking feet on the floor of an unheated building. Wind-driven snow and sleet came through missing doors and windows, but 100 children were deeply engrossed in a Korean fairy tale being told by a young adult who was a master teacher despite his lack of formal training in education.
 
A few blocks down a twisted, muddy street was a 100-bed children's hospital that had 200 patients, with two children occupying each bed. This is the only medical care facility for about 4,000 war orphans. For the 4,300 war widows and their 16,000 children in Seoul, there is but one institution with a capacity of less than 100.
 
The only institution in the city for the care of the blind, deaf and crippled children provides food and shelter, such as it is, for 120 of the 500 children who need such care. It operates on a cash budget of but $50 a month.
 
For the estimated 1,000 children who roam the streets pilfering and begging, there is but one home capable of caring for them, and it can handle only seventy.
 
In the gutted ruins of a Young Men's Christian Association building, fifty children, some of whom walk or hitchhike twenty miles a day to come to school, sat huddled together in an unheated room copying their lessons while the teacher dictated. This is because there are no high school books.
 
Balanced against these terrific odds, however, are assets-most of which are tangible-which make Koreans and their American and United Nations allies confident that both the shooting battle in the North and the social and economic battles in the South can and will be won.
 
First and most important of these are the deep personal and spiritual resources of the Korean people, who possess a remarkable mixture of stoic courage, dignity and adaptability.
 
Second is the universal admiration and respect that the Korean people have won from our troops, from Lieut. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor down to the newly arrived replacement. Innumerable units have adopted orphanages, hospitals and relief programs that they support from their own pay. Our medical officers teach in the few understaffed Korean medical schools and help in their hospitals on off-duty hours. Emergency civilian cases, including those behind the front lines, are treated in our military hospitals. American and United Nations officers and technicians work side by side with their Korean counterparts in programs of public health and social welfare.
 
Despite poverty, an appalling lack of medical resources and social disorganization, Seoul is not a city of unrest and defeatism. There has never been a better example of "loaves and the fishes" feeding such a multitude with greater understanding and dignity.
 
Note: This is the first of three weekly articles on Korean health and welfare problems by Dr. Rusk.
 
By HOWARD A. RUSK, M.D.
 
Special to the New York Times.
NYT-008