Hwa-Byung in North Korea

The actual meaning of Hwa-Byung is “anger disease”, and it is a cultural bound syndrome that is related to anger within Korea. This is thought of as chronic anger that has been suppressed over a period of time. It is most frequently found amongst middle aged housewives of the lower social classes. The situations that this anger stems from is believed to be from family conflicts or issues where the Korean women suppress these emotions so as to not cause anymore social/ family strain on their relationships. After some of the women who were identified as having Hwa-Byung, or HB, they were given MRIs which displayed how keeping this anger bottled inside of these patients was related to functional impairment of the angular cingulated cortex. The study that I looked over states from it findings that even though HB and depression may share some of the same characteristics, they are in fact different in their symptoms.

Treatment of HB involves psychological testing and meetings. However, in the Korean society the treatment for mental disorders has a negative connotation. Other ways to treat this disease that do not include psychological testing is medication, self-awareness, and lifestyle changes that promote healthy ways of dealing with this anger and how to not suppress it.


Shin C, Han C, Linden M, Chae JH, Ko YH, Kim YK, Kim SH, Joe SH, Jung IK.
Standardization of the Korean Version of the Posttraumatic Embitterment Disorder Self-Rating Scale.
Psychiatry Investig. 2012 Dec;9(4):368-372. English.

Jang SH, Park YN, Jae YM, Jun TY, Lee MS, Kim JM, Jeong SH, Kim JB.
The Symptom Frequency Characteristics of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Possible Symptom Clusters of Depressive Disorders in Korea: The CRESCEND Study.
Psychiatry Investig. 2011 Dec;8(4):312-319. English.


Min SK, Suh SY, Jon DI, Hong HJ, Park SJ, Song KJ.
Effects of Paroxetine on Symptoms of Hwa-Byung.
Korean J Psychopharmacol. 2009 Mar;20(2):90-97. Korean.



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