Development of international nursing standard–based curriculum for North Korean nurses

Younhee Kang, Insook Yang, Eliza Lee, Chohee Bang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The types of nursing care and education have been advanced in different ways between South and North Korea during the past 73 years following division of Korea. The contents of the nursing education curriculum in North Korea do not match international standards. In preparation for the unification of the two Koreas, identifying and examining North Korean nursing education are needed. Aim: To develop a curriculum for North Korean nurses to in accordance with the international nursing standards. Methods: This study consisted of two phases. First, we reviewed the literature, analyzed in-depth interviews with North Korean nurse defectors, and evaluated the contents and scope of nursing education in North Korea. Next, we developed a nursing education curriculum for North Korea through discussion with nursing education experts. Results: The nursing curriculum for North Korean nurses comprised 96 credits (21 credits for fundamental major courses and 75 credits for mandatory major courses) according to the standards of the Korea Institute of Nursing Education and Evaluation. The proposed curriculum I comprised 84.5 credits, with 14.5 credits for major courses and 70 credits for mandatory major courses. Proposed curriculum II considered the capabilities and clinical experiences of North Korean nurses and comprised 52 credits with 6 credits for major courses and 46 credits for mandatory major courses. Conclusion: A nursing curriculum was proposed to match the nursing practice competencies of North Korean nurses to international standards. This curriculum can be expected to improve the quality of nursing care in North Korea, facilitate the integration of nursing workforces, and ultimately promote the health of the people during unification. Implications for Nursing Policy: The nursing curricula proposed in this study could be a significant measure to nurture nursing manpower and contribute to narrowing the nursing gaps between South and North Korea in the process of Korea's unification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-513
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Nursing Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially funded by the Nursing Society of Korean Unification.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 International Council of Nurses.


  • curriculum planning
  • curriculum policy
  • international collaboration/cooperation
  • nursing capacity building
  • quality assurance


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