Diabetes Metab J > Volume 38(6); 2014 > Article
Choi: In Memoriam
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Eung Jin Kim, 15 January 1916-19 August 2014
Eung Jin Kim, the founder of the Korean Diabetes Association, was born on January 15, 1916 and died on August 19, 2014. He was 98 years of age.
Eung Jin Kim was born in Pyeongyang in 1916 as the third of five brothers and sisters in a devout Christian family. He was admitted into Gyeongseong Medical College in 1935 after graduating from Songdeok elementary and Soongsil middle schools. Beginning as a lecturer at Seoul National University College of Medicine in 1946, he reached his retirement age in 1981 as a professor at Seoul National University College of Medicine, after which he moved to Eulji Hospital and continued to devote himself to studying and treating diabetes.
Eung Jin Kim originally majored in gastroenterology. However, in 1959, a time at which diabetes awareness in Korea was virtually absent, he went to the diabetes clinic in University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA, as an exchange professor. At Minnesota, he observed numerous diabetic patients and gained a strong interest in diabetes. He became certain that Korea would soon develop increasing numbers of diabetic patients. He later returned to Korea in 1960 and changed his specialty to focus on diabetes research and treatment. The first task that he set into motion was screening for diabetic patients. He used the Benedict and Folin Wu methods for testing urine and blood glucose levels, respectively, and determined the prevalence of diabetes in Korea to be 0.75%.
September 4, 1968 was a monumental day in the history of diabetes in Korea. On this day, Eung Jin Kim founded the Korean Diabetes Association, which included 30 members and 12 promoters, and dedicated himself as the first president of the association. In 1980, he established the Korea-Japan Diabetes Symposium to initiate the exchange between the two nations. Apart from these efforts, he held posts within the Korean Society of Gastroenterology and the Korean Association of Internal Medicine, leaving enormous legacies in the advancement of internal medicine in Korea. In addition, he was awarded the Prime Minister award, the National Medal-Camellia, and the Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Welfare award for his achievements.
Eung Jin Kim also donated many resources for younger researchers. He did not wish for the next generation to experience the same difficulties that he had experienced in terms of limited funding for diabetes research. Thus, he used his severance pay and royalties from his books to establish the 'Sulwon fund' (now 'Sulwon award'), which has significantly aided younger generations of diabetes researchers. At present, the Sulwon award is the most prestigious award for research excellence among members of the Korean Diabetes Association.
At the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean Diabetes Association in 1988, Eung Jin Kim said, "I plan to spend the rest of my life with the single wish to contribute to the field of diabetes, selflessly and without greed." Indeed, he carried out his vow and continued to care for diabetic patients at Eulji Hospital until the age of 93. For 70 years, he actively continued his career as a medical doctor with passion and sacrifice. After treating hundreds of thousands of patients until his retirement in 2009, he said, "I have treasured the time with my patients, treating their lives as my own. With the thought that it was my vocation to live for my patients, I was truly happy to spend my time with them." His passion and devotion to diabetes will to live on in our hearts forever.
Kim is survived by his two sons (Young Kun Kim and Young Bin Kim) and one daughter. YKK and Kim's granddaughter are also diabetologists and are a professor emeritus and a professor, respectively, at Chungnam National University.
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