The medical scientist who developed the measles vaccine for the first time in the DPRK is People’s Scientist Yu Suk Gun (b. Sep. 24, 1921–d. Apr. 11, 2001), a candidate academician, professor and PhD.
During the Fatherland Liberation War (June 25, 1950–July 27, 1953) she rendered distinguished service to frustrating the enemy’s germ warfare. After the war, she developed many medicines needed for the prevention and treatment of exanthematous typhus, typhoid fever, Japanese encephalitis and rabies. Especially, she made an active contribution to protecting children’s lives by developing the measles vaccine in the 1960s.
At that time measles was a horrible contagious disease taking the lives of children mercilessly.
Keenly feeling that developing a vaccine to prevent the evil disease as early as possible was a responsible undertaking to perform her duty as medical scientist to promote the people’s health, she buckled down to relevant research together with other researchers.
At last they succeeded in separating measles virus for the first time in the country. The measles vaccine she made had better stability and immunogenicity than those made in other countries.
However, Yu had a different thought because though the scientific guarantee for the vaccine was proved, it was imperative to vaccinate any person first. She was in agony with the matter as she could not readily vaccinate others. So she made up her mind to inject the vaccine to her daughter first. But she was quite reluctant to do so. She could hardly pay much attention to her daughter as she was always engrossed in the research work. Though with a strong will, she was also a mother who had a child before a scientist.
When her mother knew that she was going to inject herself and her granddaughter with the vaccine, she was startled, embracing her granddaughter to keep her safe lest anyone else should touch her.
But Yu did not change her determination.
The measles vaccine, which removed anxiety and worry from the mind of all mothers in the country, came into being just thanks to the self-sacrificing spirit of the scientist who had unhesitatingly put her own life and happiness of her family at risk for the people’s life and safety.