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Concept: North Korea

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As of July 15, 2015, the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare had reported 186 case-patients with Middle East respiratory syndrome in South Korea. For 159 case-patients with known outcomes and complete case histories, we found that older age and preexisting concurrent health conditions were risk factors for death.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Asia, South Korea, Korea, North Korea, World War II, Korean War, Christianity

25

Radionuclide signals from underground nuclear explosions (UNEs) are strongly influenced by the surrounding hydrogeologic regime. One effect of containment is delay of detonation-produced radioxenon reaching the surface as well as lengthening of its period of detectability compared to uncontained explosions. Using a field-scale tracer experiment, we evaluate important transport properties of a former UNE site. We observe the character of signals at the surface due to the migration of gases from the post-detonation chimney under realistic transport conditions. Background radon signals are found to be highly responsive to cavity pressurization suggesting that large local radon anomalies may be an indicator of a clandestine UNE. Computer simulations, using transport properties obtained from the experiment, track radioxenon isotopes in the chimney and their migration to the surface. They show that the chimney surrounded by a fractured containment regime behaves as a leaky chemical reactor regarding its effect on isotopic evolution introducing a dependence on nuclear yield not previously considered. This evolutionary model for radioxenon isotopes is validated by atmospheric observations of radioxenon from a 2013 UNE in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Our model produces results similar to isotopic observations with nuclear yields being comparable to seismic estimates.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Hypothesis, Isotope, South Korea, Nuclear weapon, North Korea, Cold War, People's Republic

22

Drought is one of the most severe natural disasters in the world and leads to serious challenges that affect both the natural environment and human societies. North Korea (NK) has frequently suffered from severe and prolonged droughts since the second half of the twentieth century. These droughts affect the growing conditions of agricultural crops, which have led to food shortages in NK. However, it is not easy to obtain ground data because NK is one of the most closed-off societies in the world. In this situation, remote sensing (RS) techniques and cloud computing climate data (CCCD) can be used for drought monitoring in NK. RS-derived drought indices and CCCD were used to determine the drought-vulnerable regions in the spring season in NK. After the results were compared and discussed, the following conclusions were derived: (1) 10.0% of the total area of NK is estimated to be a drought-vulnerable region. The most susceptible regions to drought appear in the eastern and western coastal regions, far from BaekDu-DaeGan (BDDG), while fewer drought regions are found near BDDG and the Nahngrim Mountains. The drought-vulnerable regions are the coastal regions of South Hamgyong Province, North Hamgyong Province, South Pyongan Province, and South Hwanghae Province. The latter region is the food basket of NK. (2) In terms of land cover, the drought-vulnerable regions mainly consisted of croplands and mixed forest.

Concepts: North Korea, South Hamgyong, Administrative divisions of North Korea, North Hamgyong, Hamgyong, North Hwanghae, Pyongan, Provinces of North Korea

16

Previous publications have described unethical organ procurement procedures in the People’s Republic of China. International awareness and condemnation contributed to the announcement abolishing the procurement of organs from executed prisoners starting from January 2015. Eighteen months after the announcement, and aligned with the upcoming International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Hong Kong, this paper revisits the topic and discusses whether the declared reform has indeed been implemented. It is noticeable that China has neither addressed nor included in the reform a pledge to end the procurement of organs from prisoners of conscience, nor have they initiated any legislative amendments. Recent reports have discussed an implausible discrepancy of officially reported steady annual transplant numbers and a steep expansion of the transplant infrastructure in China. This paper expresses the viewpoint that, in the current context, it is not possible to verify the veracity of the announced changes and it thus remains premature to include China as an ethical partner in the international transplant community. Until we have independent and objective evidence of a complete cessation of unethical organ procurement from prisoners, the medical community has a professional responsibility to maintain the academic embargo on Chinese transplant professionals. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: People's Republic of China, Organ transplant, Chinese language, Republic of China, North Korea, Copyright, Hong Kong, People's Republic

9

Clonorchiasis, one of the most important food-borne trematodiases, affects more than 12 million people in the People’s Republic of China (P.R. China). Spatially explicit risk estimates of Clonorchis sinensis infection are needed in order to target control interventions.

Concepts: China, People's Republic of China, Japan, Republic of China, Chinese Civil War, North Korea, People's Republic, Republics

8

The pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a major conservation concern because of its role in decimating amphibian populations worldwide. We used quantitative PCR to screen 244 museum specimens from the Korean Peninsula, collected between 1911 and 2004, for the presence of Bd to gain insight into its history in Asia. Three specimens of Rugosa emeljanovi (previously Rana or Glandirana rugosa), collected in 1911 from Wonsan, North Korea, tested positive for Bd. Histology of these positive specimens revealed mild hyperkeratosis - a non-specific host response commonly found in Bd-infected frogs - but no Bd zoospores or zoosporangia. Our results indicate that Bd was present in Korea more than 100 years ago, consistent with hypotheses suggesting that Korean amphibians may be infected by endemic Asian Bd strains.

Concepts: South Korea, Korea, North Korea, Korean War, Korean Peninsula, Chytridiomycota, Sea of Japan, Wonsan

6

Kwonjune Seung and colleagues describe the Eugene Bell Foundation’s experience of treating MDR-TB in North Korea.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Tuberculosis, Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, South Korea, Korea, Bacterial diseases, North Korea, 2007 tuberculosis scare

5

Disease characteristics of North Korea including severe malnutrition and infectious disease risks have not been openly and widely analyzed. The present study aimed to estimate infectious disease risks among refugees from North Korea.

Concepts: Present, Disease, Infectious disease, Infection, Malnutrition, North Korea, Burma, Copenhagen Consensus

4

Childhood immunization rates are at an all-time high globally, and national data for China suggests close to universal coverage. Refugees from North Korea and their children may have more limited health care access in China due to their legal status. However, there is no data on immunization rates or barriers to coverage in this population.

Concepts: South Korea, Korea, North Korea, Korean language, Korean Peninsula, Hangul, Kim Il-sung, Pyongyang

4

This study aims to synthesise evidence on time trends of dementia prevalence in East Asian countries including Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan and assess the impact of the societal changes on future prevalence.

Concepts: People's Republic of China, Japan, Asia, East Asia, South Korea, Korea, Republic of China, North Korea