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North Korea has long been an object of pity among the developed world.  Not only must the citizenry of the impoverished third-world hellhole suffer under the tyrannical dictatorship of a demented Wishnik Troll, but access to even the most basic services and utilities is severely curtailed.  Add to this a hunger problem that makes Uganda look like the Green Bay IHOP on Sunday afternoon, and you have a portrait of a nation in turmoil.

As bad as these things are, the revelations from a recently released Amnesty International report bring sobering news.  Amazingly, conditions in North Korea are even shittier than anyone could have dreamed.

It Still Beats Living In North Korea

According to the usually trustworthy Kim Jong-il, North Koreans receive free medical care.  Moreover, North Korea spends almost $1 annually per person for health care.  “That’s a rearry, rearry big part of our budget,” says Kim.

And yet, North Korean defectors who somehow find their way to the South have a different tale to tell about the state of North Korean healthcare.

{The Amnesty International} report quoted a 24-year-old North Korean defector as saying, describing how his left leg was amputated without anesthesia after a train accident. “I was in so much pain that I screamed and eventually fainted from pain.

Other defectors told similarly horrific stories. One said her appendix was removed without anesthesia and her hands and feet were bound to prevent her from moving during the procedure. Others told of entire cities with no ambulances.

Belying Kim’s claims of free medical care, the report alleges that patients are sometimes forced to pay doctors with cash, cigarettes, alcohol and food.  North Korean representatives dispute the findings, claiming that the supply chain becomes more efficient in the absence of a middleman.

"Is That Food? You've Got Food? Please, I'll Trade With You! What Do You Want? Do You Want The New Michael Jackson Album? A Swatch? Name Your Price!"

Appendix?  That’s Pretty Pricey.  We’re Talking Two, Maybe Three Chickens And A Can Of Bud: In Report, Grim View of North Korean Health Care – NYTimes.com.