Purpose: This study examined North Korean nursing education and practice by analyzing essays written by a North Korean nurse and a physician who defected to South Korea. Methods: Two North Korean health workers who worked as a nurse and a physician before escaping from North Korea were selected for this study. They were asked to write their story of what they directly or indirectly experienced in nursing education and practice in North Korea. The authors used a qualitative content analysis method to analyze their experiences through their essays. Results: Four themes and 11 sub-themes were extracted from the analysis. The themes included inescapable status, scarcity in daily life, gap between hope and reality , and a series of discrimination and shocks in practice. Conclusion: Nurses will be a cost-effective measure to narrow the health gap between South and North Korea. Therefore, long-term strategies should be developed to balance the nursing education and practice of the two Koreas as preparation for Korean reunification.