As a senior member of the Korean Physics community, I have been fortunate enough to send out emails to my younger colleagues. This is a collection of my articles I have written since 1992. Most of the articles are about how Koreans can use their own wisdom to compete in the world stage.

I came to the United States in 1954 after my high school graduation. I did my undergraduate study at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now called Carnegie Mellon University). I then spent four years (1958-62) as a graduate student and a postdoc in Princeton. I then joined the faculty of the Univesity of Maryland near Washington, DC.

Most of my articles in this website are based on my own life as a research scientist. I become very happy when I think, and it is very easy to become smarter than others. However, it is extremely difficult to tell others I am smarter than they are in my scientific papers. This has been my problem since 1965. You are invited to my home page

Wisdom of Korea (1992 -- 1994)

Poland and Nobel Prize

Y.S.Kim (1992.10.16)

This article is addressed to young Korean physicists studying in the United States. When they come to America, each of them comes with an ambition to become a Nobel Laureate. However, not many of them have achieved their goals. They are both diligent and brilliant. Then what is the problem? The most serious problem for them seems to be that our culture does not allow them to speak openly about what they want to achieve. If my young friends want to discuss how to become communists, I will not be on their side. I am developing this electronic network to encourage them to discuss freely their scientific goals. This is the only way to develop our practical strategy for the Nobel goals.

You have been getting updated versions of the address list of Korean physicists in the United States and Canada, and you noted there that young Korean physicists are called ``Potential Nobel Laureates.'' I am not a popular figure in the Korean physics community, because I say things which my colleagues do not like to hear. For instance, I say loudly that Seoul National University should be closed down. On the other hand, nobody criticizes me for calling our young physicists ``potential Nobel laureates.'' This word was not invented overnight.

In 1978, right after Polish Cardinal Wojtyla became the Pope of the Catholic world, I wrote an article saying that the best way for Koreans to get Nobel prize is to follow the Polish example. Since then, Poland did very well in collecting Nobels. In 1980, a Polish-born poet received the prize in literature. The 1982 Nobel peace prize went to one of their labor leaders. He is now the president of Poland. Then the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physics went to a Polish-born physicist.

In 1982, I expanded my 1978 article to include a discussion of Japan which shares the same cultural root with us (we used to teach them). A comment on this 1982 article was published in one of the major newspapers in Korea in March of 1983. Encouraged by the marathon event at the Barcelona Olympiad, I wrote in September (1992) a new article about the same subject.

My plan is to write a series of articles which will eventually become a book entitled ``Wisdom of Korea.'' It might take five to ten yours. In the meantime, please send me your articles to be included in the proposed book.

American professors grade Korean students.

Y.S.Kim (1992.11.15)

American professors give the following grades to Korean graduate students in their physics departments.

Class room performance A (plus)
Diligence A (plus)
PhD dissertation research A
Ability to work with others A
Post-doctoral research A
Ability to communicate with others C
Getting involved in student activities C
Attendance record at departmental Christmas parties F

Let us discuss the F grade for the Christmas party. Throughout the United States, every organization holds its own Christmas party during the month of December, and your Department cannot not be an exception. This is also an international event because there are many foreign students, but Korean students never show up at this important meeting. What does this party have to do with us?

This F grade affects us very negatively. There are many American-educated PhDs in the world. India has more US-educated PhDs than Korea has. However, Korea has more than the entire Europe has, and more than China and Japan combined. However, Korea seldom hosts international conferences in physics. The reason is very simple. Korean graduate students do not pick up the art of confronting the people of the world while in the United States.

Furthermore, American physicists have a very negative view toward holding scientific meetings in Korea, simply because they do not see Korean faces at their annual Christmas parties. We can correct this problem very easily. Simply go to the party. Bring with you Korean dishes. Americans love Korean food. Koreans are great party makers. The annual Christmas party is an excellent opportunity for us to take an initiative in this important international event.

Koreans and Mohicans

Y.S.Kim (1992.11.30)

Since my last broadcast about the Last of Mohicans, many of you sent me comments on the film. I would like to thank them for taking my suggestion seriously. Their comments have been very helpful to me. If you have not seen the movie, it is not difficult to guess what the story is about: the American Indians trapped between the English and French armies in 1857.

I watched this film in July of 1946 and its new version in September of 1992. In 1946, I was too young to understand where Korea was standing in this world. This time, I learned that we used to be and may still be the Mohicans. Here is the "show" staged in the Korean peninsula during during the period 1945-50.

  1. On May 1, 1946, I watched the first May Day celebration in the Korean peninsula in North Korea twelve days before crossing the 38th parallel to the South. Koreans in the North did not understand the meaning of this noisy political holiday of foreign origin. Most of them thought it was a celebration of (Japanese) Emperor Showa's birthday (April 29), because they were so used to this holiday (called Dentsio Setz) under the Japanese colonial rule.

  2. On March 1, 1947, I had to run for cover when the communists in Seoul started shooting at the crowd demonstrating against the Shintak Tongchi and demanding immediate independence (perhaps I was the youngest member of this group). The communists were shooting from their party headquarters near Namdaemoon with Type-99 Japanese infantry rifles.

  3. On August 15, 1948, General Douglas MacArthur visited Seoul to participate in the ceremony marking the beginning of the Republic of Korea. While the ceremony was going on, the Korean army and navy units lined up on the street from Namdaemoon to Yongsan waiting for the military parade. This was their first occasion to present themselves as the armed forces of an independent nation.

    During this period, the American MPs (military police) were in charge of MacArthur's safety, and they thought the Korean units on the streets might block MacArthur's motorcade to the airport. The MPs could have asked the Korean commanders for cooperation, but they did not. Instead, they were pushing the soldiers as if they were handling a riot-crowd before the eyes of thousands of Seoul citizens. I was one of those who watched this ugly scene. This incident was not reported in the newspaper.

    I also watched General MacArthur passing by. Unlike those MPs, he was showing a very kind face to the Korean troops who were showing their respect to him by lifting up their US-made M1 rifles in a highly disciplined manner (Japanese influence). MacArthur came back to Korea on June 30, 1950 and took control over the troops he met in 1948. I watched the North Korean fighter planes attempting to attack MacArthur's plane while it was landing at the Suwon airport. The North Korean fighters (Soviet-made YAK 9) were driven away by the F-80 jet fighters of the U.S. Airforce [This incident was not reported until recently]. MacArthur was kind to us, but we are still debating about who should have the operational control over our armed forces.

  4. On June 26, 1949, Patriot Kim Koo was assassinated by an artillery officer. We are still debating about who was behind the plot, but it is quite clear that he had to face this fate because he did not have any backing from foreign powers.

  5. Then June 25, 1950. You know the story, and the Korean version of the Mohicans continues. However, we have been resilient and resourceful enough to overcome this hardship. We are being praised by the people of the world for constructing a shiny nation from the ashes in one generation.
On the other hand, while our future depends on our scientists, I sense an alarming trend among our young scientists. They seem to seek easy life and quick fame. The average research life of our PhDs does not exceed two years. If this trend continues, we will become like Mohicans. If this really happens, we cannot blame anyone except ourselves.

Korean science man-power management

Y.S.Kim (1992.12.10)

Four hundred years ago, a Japanese warrior named Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan and became convinced that he should be the ruler of the Chinese mainland. He sent 200,000 Japanese troops to the Korean peninsula. We call this incident "Imjim Japanese Riot."

Ten years before the invasion, the Korean ruling class knew about Hideyoshi's intention, but the government did not have enough sense to prepare any comprehensive list of men eligible for military service (the system known today as the draft registration).

These days, our country is at a science/tech war with the rest of world. As far as the man/woman-power management is concerned, the science-tech ministry of our government is like the defense (military) ministry at the time of Hideyoshi's invasion.

The lack of governmental power did not prevent our forefathers from putting up valiant fights against the rifle-firing Japanese invaders 400 years ago. There are many well-documented stories about the volunteer forces. Great Admiral Yi Soon-Shin's navy did not have much to with the government.

We are able to maintain a comprehensive list of Korean physicists abroad who are ready to provide scientific services to our country. This list is like the draft registration which Korea needed so badly 400 years ago. The list is an important element in fighting the science/tech war, but it not enough. We should do more, particularly on the research front where the real battle is fought.

Pride and capitalism

Y.S.Kim (1993.4.25)

During the early months of 1993, Japan's NHK-TV is airing five one-hour programs on the Pacific War (1941-45). I watched the first three, and I intend to watch the remaining two. The theme of this series was predictable. Japan's worst enemy during this dreadful period was Japan's own pride which was called YAMATO TAMASHI. The Japanese warmakers were deadly locked into the thinking that only Japanese can have their god-given pride, which no other people can have. In 1941, Admiral Yamamoto desperately tried but failed to convince the Japanese generals that Americans can have and do have their own pride, even though he later obeyed the imperial order to carry out the Pearl Harbor operation.

These days, our young people are very proud of themselves. When I talk to them, it is impossible to convince them that I can have my own pride. Very often, they force me to admit that I do not have any pride. If I am a prideless animal, it is OK. The problem is that the pride of our young physicists might affect their own careers.

Most of you have read Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha". Siddhartha is an intelligent-looking young man looking for job at a market place. When asked what he can do, Siddhartha says "I can THINK, I can PRAY, and I can FAST," while his prospective employer is expecting an accounting skill (computa- tional skill) from him for his business. Hermann Hesse clearly spells out the difference between Buddhism and Capitalism. Indeed, from Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, we can derive the concept of


You have to have a marketable skill to get a job in the United States which, in case you did not know, is a mighty capitalistic country.

These days, our young PhD's complain that there are no jobs in the United States, and therefore they plan to go home immediately after passing their final oral exams. On the other hand, they know that going back to Korea does not guarantee an easy life anymore. They also know that not many Chinese students go back to their own country. Our young scientists are now beginning to see that many Koreans who came to America before 1970 were able to settle down here and have been very productive in their endeavors. Many of them are thinking of staying in the U.S. for a longer period.

Yes, the competition is much more fierce now than before, but this does not explain why we should lose while Chinese are winning. The initial condition our young people have these days is far superior to that of those old timers. First of all, when I came to U.S. in 1954, I never thought Koreans could make volt-ohm meters, while, these days, almost all multitesters in the world are made in Korea. There were virtually no American-educated professors before 1970. It was almost impossible to get advanced textbooks before 1965. Before 1965, Korea (South) had a lower per-capita income than North Korea had.

Then, what is bothering our young physicists? Some of my American friends, who may be your prospective employers, complain that Koreans are trying to sell their PRIDE before anything else. You do not have to be a genius to realize that PRIDE alone is not a marketable skill in the United States. What else does PRIDE do to you? Read the first paragraph of this mail.

Historians agree that Hitler's Nazism was a form of inferiority complex. Some historians say that Japan's YAMATO TAMASHI was also a form of inferiority complex, but this interpretation is not universally accepted. Like all diseases, it is best to cure the PRIDE DISEASE as early as possible. If you have problems, contact those old timers. They will be very happy to discuss your problems with you, as your medical doctor does. The difference is that they will not charge you money. They may even buy you a lunch or dinner.

You would say that those old folks had a relatively easy time in the U.S., and that they will never understand the problems young people have to face these days. No! No! (1) Until 1966, the U.S. immigration law was explicitly prejudicial to Asians. The law was saying essentially "No Asians in the U.S. please". (2) There were no Korean communities, and the only way to eat Korean food is to get invited to the family of a Korean woman married to an American soldier while serving in Korea. (3) The U.S. newspapers were printing only bad things about Korea, such as poverty, corruption and dictatorship. (4) Owning a car was an impossible dream.

However, those old timers had one important advantage. They were and still are more traditional Koreans, carrying the virtues of Confucianism. This is a quotation from Maengja. If God wishes to give you an important mission in this world, He grinds your bones and flesh, mixes up your mind, shatters your soul, and leads you to temptation, until you develop enough patience to make up the difference between what you have and what you want. Many people ask me how to succeed or survive in research. I always give them a very uninspiring answer: Follow the example of your parents. I think I am giving them the correct answer.


Who else can have pride? The following letter is from a Korean-Chinese student studying at the University of Pittsburgh. He and his wife speak fluent Korean and regard themselves as Koreans even though they were born in China and carry Chinese passports with Chinese names. Mr. Liu's grandfather went from Korea to Manchuria presumably during the period of Japanese occupation.

From: IN%"MILST2@PITTVMS.BITNET" 12-FEB-1993 13:10:38.33

Dear Prof. Kim,

How are you? I was very happy to talk to you over the phone. I read with interest your emails. I don't know much about SNU, but I know that it is the No.1 University in South Korea. It is not a surprise to me that these SNU graduates are proud of their university.

When I was at Tsinghua University, I met eleven students from North Korea, who were graduated from Kim Il-Sung Univ. or Kim Chaek Industrial University. Since I was the only Korean-Chinese in the same Department (Electrical Engineering), I became a good friend of theirs. I noticed that they were also very proud of their universities, but not like the Koreans (from SNU or other universities in the South) I know here. I definitely feel the difference, but it is very difficult for me to explain how they are different.

All of my friends from the North studied semiconductor physics, and they all went back to Korea (north) after graduation. However, I still maintain contact with them, and someday I would like to visit their universities. Of course, I am eager to make a trip to the South to see its institutions. Koreans on both sides are talented. If we work together, we can have a university which is much better than SNU of Kim Il-Sung U. We can even reach the level of Harvard or Oxford. After all, I am proud of being a Korean.

You asked me why I am studying physics instead of electronics. The reason is that I am more interested in studying fundamental problems than applied science. I think gauge fields and particle physics are very interesting. I also like some topics in condensed matter physics, such as superfluids and superconductivity. The biggest problem I am trying to understand is the wave-particle duality. Recently, I am trying to understand supersymmetry (I am taking a particle physics course now) because I saw some beautiful things in it. I realize that it is not the right time and the right place to study these things, and this is the reason why I am working on phase transition in random medium this semester. However, I may start working on high energy physics from next term.

Sincerely yours,
Ming-Xiong Liu

Note. Tsinghua University in Beijing was established in 1911, and is the most prestigious science/tech-oriented university in China, like Stanford in the United States. Mr. Liu is of course proud of his Tsinghua background. I encouraged him and he agreed to write a detailed story about the North Korean students he met in China and compare them with the students from the South he met in the United States. I hope we could broadcast his article in the future. In the meantime, you may send your comments directly to him.

After organizing an international conference

Kee Woo Rhee []
Naval Research Laboratory, Code 6804, Washington, DC 20375
June 12, 1993

I have just come from San Diego after attending the 37th International Conference of Electron, Ion, and Photon Beams, which is commonly known as the "Three-beam Conference." The city was lively and gorgeous.

I was in charge of organizing a two-day workshop there after the main conference. Even though I happen to be in a field where I have to go to conferences a dozen times a year, I never worried about organizing them in the past.

However, this time, I was given the responsibility of organizing the annual follow-up workshop electron beam lithography, one year before the meeting. What I had to was to find out from the prospective attendees. what they want to hear and discuss during the meeting. Then I had to correspond with possible speakers whether they wanted to present any talk at the meeting, and how long. I could have not done my job properly if I had to use the conventional way of communication, that is, by sending letters and getting replies and sending out another inquiries and so on.

I was able to carry out my responsibility only because I was able to use electronic mailing system. I was introduced into this powerful email system not long ago by Prof. Kim of the Univ. of Maryland, who forced me to learn the email technique. The point is that, if one uses the email, he/she can organize a conference while carrying out his/her research program at a normal pace.

Korea's progress in economy as well as in scienctific research has been impressive. I am indeed proud of being a Korean physicist working in the U.S.A. Whenever I go to conferences, I look for my Korean colleagues especially those who come directly from Korea. Occasionally, I could meet some scientists from Sam-Sung or Hyundai Industries. However, it is very frustrating to see that so few Koreans come to international meetings. The number of papers presented is much smaller than the number presented by Japanese researchers.

When Korean scientists come to conferences, after traveling all the way from Korea, they do not appear to be interested in seeking new information. I seldom see them at social events such as receptions and banquets. On the other hand, I see them quite often at the telephone booth shouting in Korean to their relatives and friends.

As far as I know, there is a Microelectronics Mask Shop (DuPont's) at E-Chun. I here also that there is a Leica electron beam system at Seoul National University, and so on. Maybe, I am not aware of all scientific activities in Korea. However, I feel very strongly that Koreans should interact with other Koreans more actively and openly in order to enhance our position in the international community.

Physics in North Korea

Y. S. Kim (1993.5.12) -updated (2003.4.16)

We maintain our keen interest in the area of our country formally called "Democratic People's Republic of Korea," even though we are not able to make direct contacts with physicists there. We also feel that we should be prepared to cooperate with them when the time comes. Thus, it is not a meaningless enterprise to maintain this file in order to discuss the situation there as best as we can.

These days, there are many international conferences held in China and Russia. These conferences provide good opportunities for scientists from both sides to meet. In addition, Russia's Joint Institute for Nuclear Research at Dubna (60 kilometers north from Moscow) is a place for physicists from both sides to stay together for a prolonged period. We still have to conduct the meeting of scientists in accordance with the laws governing national security issues on both sides.

It is fair to say that physics in North Korea was started by a physicist named Doh Sang Rok. He studied in Japan before 1945, and was on the team of the Japanese (Japanese and Korean) physicists who translated Dirac's book entitled "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" into Japanese.

Some of his relatives now live in the United States. According to them, Prof. Doh moved to the North from Seoul in 1946, not because he was a communist, but because he, lacking American background, lost in a power struggle at SNU. He was then invited by North Korean authorities to head the Division of Science and Engineering at Kim-I-S Univ. in Pyongyang. His job was to start from nothing.

In fact, there was a Korean physicist who studied at Kim-I-S Univ. before 1950, and who moved to the South during the retreat of the UN forces in 1950-51. His name was Sook Lee. He later completed his undergraduate study at Korea Univ. in Seoul and received his PhD degree from Brown Univ. Prof. Lee had a distinguished career as a physicist, before he died in 1990. He was a professor of physics at the Hunter College of the City Univ. of New York. He could have contributed a very interesting article to this file. We miss him.

In view of the fact that Prof. Doh was mentioned several times in the North Korean propaganda literature in the past, he should have been an important person there. However, we do not know how strong his influence was on pure research in North Korea. Dr. Doh died in 1990. We are not interested in discussing North Korea's nuclear weapons program in this file.

In July of 1990, there was a conference at Yanbian Univ. (in Jilin Province of China) entitled "First International Workshop on Modern Physics" primarily attended by Korean and Chinese physicists. A number of North Korean physicists participated in this meeting. The proceedings of this conference were edited by Prof. Kyungsik Kang (Brown Univ.) and Prof. Chung-Wook Kim (Johns Hopkins Univ.) were published by by the World Scientific Publishers of Singapore in 1990. This edited volume is available in major libraries throughout the world. We are able to extract the following North Koreans names from the proceedings.

From: Academy of Sciences of DPRK, Inst. of Physics, Pyongsong, Pyongnam,
Cho Byong Rae, Ho Yong Hwan, Kim Yon-Il, Lyeo In-Kwang, Nam Hong-Woo, Ryo Chol Gi.

From: Kim Il-Sung University, Dept. of Theoretical Physics, Pyongyang City,
Ham Chel Young, Jong He Geng, Kim En Gin, Kim Il Goang, Ko Yong Hae, Le, Gei Seng, So Sang Gook.


More recently, in 1991, Prof. Yung-Keun Lee of the Johns Hopkins Univ. visited North Korea. After the trip, he wrote the following letter to "The Sun" of Baltimore which is one of the major daily newspapers in the United States.

Reprinted (with permission) from The Sun of Baltimore (Sept. 11, 1991)

Where ignorance is strength

by Yung K. Lee

At this moment of collapsing Cold War and communism, North Korea still holds out as the bastion of old-line communism. Thirty-five thousand American soldiers are camped on her border as a trip-line if there is a military ambition on the part of the rulers in Pyongyang.

Recently a score of remains of missing-in-action American soldiers of the Korean War were handed over at the truce line. In a curious parallel action, I was invited by the regime in Pyongyang to visit the grave of my father who was forcibly kidnapped by the retreating North Korean soldiers during the Korean War. Considering the prominence of my father, Kwangsoo Lee, a Korean novelist, and my being an American nuclear physicist, I feared becoming a pawn to their advantage, but I could not resist the chance to find out about the last days of my father.

The division of Korea into north and south in the deal struck between Roosevelt and Stalin is again thrown into focus after the Berlin Wall came down. Lest the new generation of Americans forget, more than a million American soldiers fought in fierce battles in Korea between 1950 and 1953 in order to rescue South Korea from invasion by the north and, in effect, to preserve the integrity of the division. Would this division also crumble, and if it would, when?

After my emotional visit to my father's grave on a hill bordering a group of ancient Koguryo tombs of the 3rd century. I lived in Pyongyang a week savoring the life in a secluisionist society. The thoroughgoing censorship prevented a citizen from learning of even a disastrous flooding on the outskirts of the capital city. I heard of it from a physicist visiting me. Orwell's "Ignorance is Strength" is practiced here, lest the citizens know of the reality outside and lose respect for their supreme leader.

The result of this isolation from the rest of world was obvious in the form of economic stagnation. The citizenry were not well-fed and the city streets did not show the spirit and dynamism portrayed in their television programs. Hotels lacked telecommunications.

Still, the rulers have convinced citizens that their version of communism, juche, self-reliance, surpasses any other ideology. This is how they fend off the embarrassment of the failing international communism.

The State Department made a quiet overture to Pyongyang by maintaining informal contacts in Beijing as late as 1988. There is currently a scenario of summit meetings between the North and South. As I left Pyongyang, I was convinced that exposure of the North Korean citizenry to reality would most destabilizing to the regime, and that, therefore, North Korea would not accept a term of unification calling upon it first to crack open its society. Only dire economic need might do that.

As I was haggling over a taxi fare outside the Beijing Airport for a ride to the nearby Holiday Inn, I felt I traveled light-years from Pyongyang.

---------------------- End of Prof. Lee's letter

It seems to be against the natural law that North Korea be like this forever. Let us hope that we can travel there freely within this decade. We should then start thinking about our future plans for the North.

Other than a peculiar form of government in the North, Korea (both north and south) is a beautiful country. There are many places in the North blessed with natural beauty such as the Keum-Gang Mountains and the Wonsan beach which could host major international research and/or conference centers.

There is indeed an excellent place not far from Inchon's new airport currently under construction. The distance (by high-speed boat) between the Airport and the proposed site is shorter than the distance between Seoul and Taejon. The place is called Kumipo on the southern coast of Hwanghae-do. Why is Kumipo so special?

  1. Before December 8, 1941, this fishing village used to attract, for resort/retreat, many American missionaries working in Korea and China. There used to be approximately 100 American houses.
  2. The first American who visited this place was Horace Underwood who is known as the first Presbyterian missionary. As soon as he came to Seoul in 1885, he heard the rumor that there was a Korean Protestant church at a village called Sorae in Hwanghae-do. He then came to Sorae on his horse, and found there that Koreans were having regular Sunday services. He found also that the villagers had the 100% Hangul version of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments). Sorae was and still is a farming village adjacent to Kumipo.
  3. His son, Horace Underwood II, was a very venturous person. He is widely known as the founder of Yonsei University, but to the villagers of Sorae and Kumipo, he was known as the second richest American, because he built a castle-like house at the prime location of the Kumipo beach. He then encouraged other missionaries to come to the area. This was how Kumipo was developed as the resort/retreat place for so many Americans.
  4. Then, what is so special about Kumipo? The answer is its natural beauty! The landscape is much richer than any of the beaches in the Western world. You are invited to visit, to compare the Sorae becach with the beach of French Riviera.

The basic difference is the sand color. The color of the Sorae sand is as white as that of milk. The sand grains are white because they are rich in silicon. The Japanese colonialists (in around 1935) set up a plate glass factory in Inchon in order to chew up the sand hills on the Sorae/Kumipo beach. This barbaric attack on our environment was stopped ironically by the division of the country in 1945.

It is not the first time for you to hear that our natural resources were exploited by foreigners in the past. Korea's gold mines were developed by Americans. There is a saying that Amrericans came to the Korean War because of Korea's rirch tangsten reserves.

Equally important is to preserve Korea's originality. It is a universal view that Korea's Christianity, particularly protestant churches, was initiated by American missionaries. Not true! In the website mentioned above, you will see the first church buildings located in the village of Sorae. The first building was set up in 1984, one year before Horace Underwood came to Inchon in 1885. This Church was initiated by Minister Seo Sang-Yun who came to Sorae in 1883 with the first Hangul version of the Bible his Jigae.

The translation of the Bible was initiated ten years earlier in the city of Woochang (south of Harbin in Manchu) by four Koreans and two missionaries from Scotland. The final version was written by Minister Seo San-Yun in his native Korean, Hamkyung Saturi.

Books and Guns

Y.S.Kim (1993.8.8).

The latest issue of "Nature" (a weekly science news magazine from England) carries an article about Korea's science. Many people asked me whether I have read the article, and asked me about my opinion on the the article. Yes, I have read the article, but I have no opinion on the contents of the article.

We should be attentive to what foreigners have to say about us. However, before that, we should have our own way of evaluating ourselves. One way to estimate our research potential is to look at the libraries at Korea's major research institutions. For this purpose, in 1977, I prepared a list of journals which major U.S. institutions have in their libraries. Some of you will recall that I sent copies of the list to many research institutions in Korea.

My position has been and still is that, in order that our U.S.-trained physicists be fully effective in Korea, the Korean institutions should have at least the following set of journals (just as American researchers have, not less). You may obtain the list of journals by sending an email to , with Subject: LIBRARY.KOR.

The first foreigner to see Korea's potential was General James Van Fleet who passed away this year (1993) at the age of 100. He was of course able to see the potential for Koreans to build a strong army. Van Fleet was the commander of the U.S. forces in Korea during the Korean War, and was largely responsible for the reorganization of the Korean Army to the present form.

Prof. Kongki Min (now professor of physics at RPI) was a freshman at Yonsei Univ. when the Korean war broke out in 1950. He was so fluent in English that he served as one of the secretaries for General Van Fleet. Prof. Min once told me the following story.

During the process of reorganization of the Korean Army, Van Fleet's staff members submitted to him a plan which will give each Korean infantry division six 155mm howitzers (big guns). Their reasoning was that each U.S. division has eighteen howitzers, and therefore that Koreans will be most combat effective with the one third of the U.S. artillery power. Van Fleet angrily threw away the proposal, and told them that if the U.S. division is most combat effective with 18 howitzers, then the Korean division should also be most combat effective with 18 howitzers, and not less than that.

You will agree that libraries are not less important than 155mm guns.

Japanese students in London

Y.S.Kim (1993.11.7)

Last summer, I spent two afternoons on the streets of London, and I saw many many Japanese students spending their vacation weeks in Europe. I stopped some of them and talked/listened to them. They are both courteous and straight-forward. I really enjoyed talking with them. As some of you know, I often become frustrated when Korean students refuse to give me a clear "YES or NO" answer.

However, the story is quite different on the campuses in the United States. We do not see too many Japanese students. In the U.S. academic institutions, we are the dominant figures. In order to see this, send an email

Text: Hurry.

You will then see how many Korean students are studying at OSU (Ohio State Univ.), what they are studying, where their Phd graduates are and what they are doing. You will be convinced that God created OSU in order to educate Korean physicists.

OSU is not the only institution which produces Korean physicists. Try Subject: BROWN, CORNELL, HOPKINS, ILLINOIS, KAIST, KEK, KOREAU, KYUNGPOOK, MARYLAND, MIT, MICH.STATE, OHIO.STATE, UMICH, NORTHWESTERN, PRINCETON, PURDUE, STANFORD, TEX.AUS, YALE, or YONSEI. If you do not see your university on this list, make your own directory like that of OSU.

The point is that, with this rich brain power, we should become ahead of Japan in Physics. As you probably know, almost all Japanese physicists get their degrees in Japan, and that is why they are not able to play leading roles in pure science in spite of Japan's economic might. Korean students are all "A" students wherever they go in the world. All we have to do is to extend this "A" grade to post post-doc research (research after postodoc). We should be able to overcome this hurdle!

Many Koreans of your grandfather's age went to Japan to earn their college degrees before 1945, but they never thought Japanese were smarter than we are. The first generation of Korean physicists (of your father's age) consists of those who became convinced that Koreans can also get Nobel Prize after seeing Japan's Yukawa getting his prize in 1949. Those first- generation physicists did very well in spite of the disastrous 6.25 conflict (1950-53), and they are reading your papers with keen interest.

Now, we have an ideal environment if you decide to get ahead of Japan in Physics. If we miss this golden opportunity, future historians will be very harsh on us, perhaps as harsh as we are on those pro-Japanese traitors.

Korea's Best

Comment by Y.S.Kim (1994.1.11)

"USA Today" is one of the leading newspapers in the United States. This newspaper often prints useful statistics and comparisons. Its December 30 (1993) issue contains the following interesting table, entitled "As the year turns, time for trend check."

1993 (out) 1994 (in)
Recession Recovery
Copper wire Fiber optics
Russia China
John Sculley Ray Smith
Japanese cars
Corporate loyalty Job hopping
Rent Low Mortgage rate
Floppy disks CD-ROM
Company health ins. National health insurance
Bosses Teams
The U.S.mail The internet
Credit cards ATM cards
Credit crunch Bank lending
Pizza Rotisserie chicken
Dry beer Ice beer
Nike Timberland
Pacific Northwest Rocky Mountains
Interest income Capital gains
NFL sponsorship World Cup sponsorship
Miata Mustang
Interest income Capital gains
Middle manager Technical worker
Commuting Working from home
Bob Crandall Herb Kelleher
Deutsche marks U.S.dollars
U.S.Stocks and Bonds International Funds
Taiwan Mexico
Euro Disney Virginia Disney

This table should be particularly interesting to those who have returned to Korea after becoming accustomed to the life in U.S.A.

There also has been a new trend among young Korean physicists.

1993 (out) 1994 (in)
Korea's best Number One in the world
Korea's worst Number One in the world

When I speak with Korean students, I find many who claim or wish to be the "Number One" physicist in the world. Some of them have good reasons to say this, and some say without knowing what the real world is like. It is OK in either case. The Korean standard should be the same as the world standard if we wish to compete in the world. If our U.S.-trained scientists cannot compete, how can we tell our farmer to compete against the highly capitalized U.S. agricultural industry?

Not many of you will be persuaded if I tell you that I have the "number one in the world" research program in physics. However, you will not raise objections to the point that we now have the "Number One in the world" directory program. Indeed, the "Worldwide Network of Korean Physicists" made a rapid stride in 1993. We were able to reach this "Number One in the world" status because many young physicists contributed new ideas, hard work, and cooperative spirit.

Let us go back to the above table of trends. Our network system switched from the U.S. Mail to email two years ago, and we are OK. Our youngest members fresh from Korea know how to eat pizza, but they should be able to switch to chicken. Since Koreans know much more about the World Cup than Americans do, we are OK. I dislike Japanese products, and I always drive Ford. According to the above trend table, many of our students will switch to U.S. cars. I become upset when I am accused of being pro-Japanese (simply because I am older) by young people who drive Japanese cars.

There is one area where we are not OK. In general, our English is not good enough for "full membership" of the world. During their first month in the United States, Korean students complain that they did not have enough English training in Korea. If I tell this to my colleagues in Korea (physics professors), they angrily shout that their job is to teach physics, not English, and they add that students should learn English in high school.

If the students cannot speak or write English properly during their first year in the U.S., it is understandable. However, there is a problem if they fail to gain fluency in English after spending seven years in the States. Are they going to say that Americans did not teach them English? The basic problem is that we think we can learn things only if we are taught by someone. This is a wrong logic. The desire to learn has to come first for any learning process. If you have a desire, it does not matter whether you have a teacher or not. Unless you have a strong desire to learn English, you cannot become "Number One" in the world.

Pearl Harbor mentality

Y.S.Kim (1994.5.16)

During the past two weeks, I did some hard work to increase our email database to include many students in Korea. Since I am an unknown person to them, it is appropriate for me to introduce myself. I entered Seoul National University as a freshman in March of 1954, and came to the United States in August of the same year. During this brief period, I picked up a girl who later became my wife. This means that I did very well at SNU.

I received my PhD degree from Princeton in 1961. On January 20, 1961, while I was still a graduate student, I watched on TV a neat-looking man of age 43 giving his presidential inaugural speech. His name was John F. Kennedy. These days, every Korean knows what he said in his speech, while not every American does. This network operation is one of the things I can do for my country.

Using this network, I have been sending out my "sermons," and I received various comments. Many people are telling me that I should teach our young people how to be creative. They claim that, if Koreans have any creativity, it is thoroughly destroyed during their educational process.

I totally reject this claim. If you have a teaching experience as a TA at one of the U.S. universities, you should know how non-Korean students are. You will then agree that the education you had in Korea is second to none in this world. As for teaching Koreans how to be creative, it is an impossible task, not because we are intrinsically non-creative, but because we are already creative. How can I teach an already-creative person to be creative?

Then what is bugging us? In order to answer this question, I have to tell you the following three short stories.

1). Last month, I met at a local Chinese restaurant a former student of the Univ. of Maryland. He came originally from China and is now working for one of the high-tech companies in Connecticut. He was with his six-year-old daughter. I asked her whether she could write SIX in Chinese, and she proudly showed me her finger strokes, and her parents were happy. I then asked her who Mao Ze-dong (Mo Taek-dong) was. She told me that he is an old Chinese man who shook hands with Richard Nixon (the U.S. president 1969-74). Her embarrassed father told me that she gave this non-Chinese answer because she was born in the U.S. and watched only American TV programs.

2). In 1975, I met an eight-year-old Korean boy who came to the United States with his parents for a brief visit. He only watched Korean TV programs. I asked him about Park Chung Hee. He said Park is a great president. I then asked who Kim Il-Sung is, and his answer was that Kim I.S. is the worst Korean in our history. How about Chinese? Bad because they are supporting the Kim I.S. regime. How about Germans? Smart people like General Rommel. Americans? Good, because they are helping us. So far, there is nothing drastically wrong with his answers.

I then asked him what his feeling was toward Japanese. He said Japanese are bad because they attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Indeed, Japan's Mitsubishi (Model Zero) fighter planes destroyed the U.S. Pacific fleet stationed in Hawaii in the morning of December 7, 1941, and this action is still frequently condemned in mass media.

However, his answer tells us about what is wrong with our frame of mind. What Japanese did to Americans is the only thing that counts, and what Japanese did to Koreans is irrelevant to us. Let us call this "Pearl Harbor mentality." Unfortunately, this Pearl-Harbor mentality is the domineering force in the present Korean intellectual life.

3). Many of you will recall that I used to ask Korean students whether they wish to become like me or Steven Weinberg. They give me their answers with various degrees of politeness and also with various degrees of impoliteness. They then hasten to add that the answer was not meant to be personal and that they would have given the same answer if other Korean physicists had asked the same question. The bottom line is that they do not want to identify themselves with any Korean physicists, and the only physicists relevant to their career goals are Americans. I assume that they include themselves in the group labeled as "other Korean physicists."

At this point, we are led to recall our traditional "Sa-dae Mo-hwa" ideology, but the above mentioned "Pearl Harbor mentality" is basically different from "Sa-dae Mo-hwa." Perhaps we can discuss this issue later. The point is that it is not our educational system but the Pearl Harbor mentality which suppresses our creativity. If you are firmly framed to think that the ultimate wisdom should come only from Americans like Weinberg, where is the room for your own creativity?

Many people ask me why I am so intensely interested in Korean affairs while preaching others to become international. Let me answer the question using the Pearl-Harbor-style logic which may perhaps be more comfortable to you than the true logic.

When I was a graduate student at Princeton, I shared the same thesis advisor with Weinberg (he was four years ahead of me), and I used his thesis as a model format. If we use the Pearl Harbor logic, I should be the first Korean who wanted to become like Steven Weinberg. Indeed, I had to finish my graduate study in three years because Weinberg did four years before. I had to do my extra-curricular activity on Wignerism because Weinberg did the same when he was a graduate student. I can list many more.

Then, if I am so intensely interested in becoming like Weinberg, why am I spending so much time on Korean affairs? Weinberg did not get his Nobel prize by studying Korean history or Korean literature. In order to answer this question, we have to get back to the true logic. According to Confucius, you should clean your body and organize your house before attempting to rule the world. If you do not like Confucius, I can mention King Sejong and his academicians. The first page of the Hangul literature starts with a sentence about six dragons climbing to heaven. Then the text starts with a tree with deep root.

I cannot guarantee that you will become like Weinberg by studying Korean affairs, but I can guarantee that you will not get anywhere in this world without knowing your own roots. Get rid of your Pearl Harbor mentality and restore your creativity. Have a nice summer!!

International conferences in Korea

Y.S.Kim (1994.7.11)

I just came back from Osaka (Japan) after attending the 20th ICGTMP (International Colloquium on Group Theoretical Methods in Physics), and I heard the news about Kim Il-Sung's death while waiting for my return flight at Osaka's Itami Airport.

Why am I writing about this conference? As many of you know, the 14th meeting of this series took place in Seoul in 1985, and there are a sizable number of people who attended both the 1985 and 1994 meetings. They all agree that the 1985 meeting in Korea was much better than the 1994 event organized by the Japanese physicists from Kyoto and Tokyo Universities.

From the world-wide point of view, the present Korean physics community is at least ten times stronger than that of 1985, while the strength of the Japanese physics remains about the same. This clearly indicates that we can play a healthy leadership role at least in the fields covered by ICGTMP.

I had some ideas along this direction as early as in 1985, but none of them worked with Koreans. On the other hand, I have been reasonably successful in forming cooperative ventures with Americans, Russians, Englishmen, Germans, Mexicans, Chinese, and Japanese. It is fair to say that I understand Korea and Koreans much better than Russians or Mexicans I am quite confident that I could cooperate with my young Korean colleagues. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have ideas.

Sincerely yours,
Y .S. Kim


Follow-up on the Osaka meeting TO: Concerned Koreans
FROM: Y. S. Kim (Univ. of Maryland)
SUBJECT: We are not perfect yet.
DATE: 1994.7.18

If a Korean physicist shows up at an international committee meeting without proper credentials and is thrown out from the meeting, he is an ugly Korean. The case becomes much worse if the "ugly Korean" in question is one of SNU's most able professors who even received a presidential prize of some kind (frankly, I do not know what the prize is about).

Since I have been around, I would not be bragging too much even if I say that I am on the International Standing Committee for the International Colloquium on Group Theoretical Methods in Physics. The Committee held its regular meeting on July 7 during the 20th ICGTMP held in Osaka (Japan). This was the place where I witnessed the above-mentioned incident.

This distinguished Korean physicist wants to become a member of the Standing Committee and even tells others that he is already on the Committee. I once sent him an email spelling out the procedure for becoming a member, and said that I would support his case if and when his name is presented to the Committee. The real purpose of my email was to tell him that his membership has never been considered by the Committee and that he should not embarrass himself and his countrymen.

To be fair, there is a reason for him to be confused. As you probably know, Westerners usually have difficulties in telling Korean names. For instance, in my department, I always get the mails addressed to other Koreans whose last name is Kim. The Standing Committee mistakenly sent one or two memos to the person in question, but he never received a letter formally admitting him to the Committee. If he had read my email, he should have known clearly where the problem was. This Korean physicist ended up with a disaster because he ignored his countryman while trusting more than 100% a foreigner who does not even know his name.

I am writing this report because this is not an isolated incident. Too often I witness our students in the U.S. make mistakes of the same kind. After being screwed, some learn a lesson, but most of them do not. I assume that those students have been influenced by their professors who want to rise above their colleagues by identifying themselves with their best American friends. Here is my advice. It is safe to assume that Americans do not remember anything unless it produces money. If you cannot provide money to your American friends, they are not your friends.

You will recall that I invented the word "Pearl Harbor mentality" meaning that Japanese are bad to us not because they committed atrocities to Koreans, but because they attacked Pearl Harbor. Koreans with this mentality indeed look ugly-and-ugly to those they wish to serve and please.


Addendum (1994.8.16). On August 6, I spent two hours at the Amsterdam Airport on my way to Austria to attend one of the conferences on my subject. I saw there a group of 20 Korean boys and girls of ages 8-12 wearing blue T-shirts which carry a sign saying "Korean Taekwondo." Naturally, I was pleased to see them, and they said they going to Brussels to participate in an international taekwondo show. When I asked one of them whether he likes the United States, he twisted his lips and said "Uruguay Round."

While I was having a chat with their instructor, two of the youngsters came to him blaming each other for a rather trivial childish issue. The soft-spoken instructor scolded them for damaging the image of their country at an international arena, and then prescribed a kihap consisting of ten push-ups. Then, these two young athletes carried out the push-ups in a highly disciplined manner. A beautiful show indeed!

I told the instructor that our highly educated intellectuals have to learn a big lesson from those two small Koreans. I feel that some of our self- claimed "world-class" scientists should be shot to death.

The Uruguay Round of job market

by Y.S.Kim (1994.8.24)

We are very fortunate to have an expanding job market in Korea, and our physicists can still find jobs in Korea if they are willing to work hard. This is not the case for every country. Look at the former Soviet Union. Since Russia cannot feed her own scientists, they have to find employments in other countries.

On the other hand, Mexico's economy is expanding and they need scientists. You will be surprised to hear that there are now more than 200 Russian physicists in Mexico. American physicists do not want to go to Mexico, but some of them will have to in the near future.

Sooner or later, the "Uruguay Round" of job market will hit our country. Samsung now has a strong connection with Russia's aviation research, and many Russian scientists and engineers came to Korea to work for Samsung. Also, a number of Chinese accelerator experts came to Pohang to help us in the Pohang accelerator project. Can we blame Samsung or Postech for hiring foreigners instead of Koreans?

Indeed, we are fortunate to have a homeland, but the homeland will not be yours unless you keep up with your research.

------- Follow-up on the "Uruguay Round" of Job Market (1995.8.30)

You will be surprised to hear that Ewha Womans University will add 101 young people to the faculty for the coming academic year, and 39 of them will be foreigners. Still, most of these foreigners will be language-related professors. However, very soon, foreigners will "invade" our science-related job market. [Womans (not Women's) is the correct spelling for Ewha.]

Remember our Pearl Harbor mentality (Japanese are bad to us not because they committed atrocities to Koreans, but because they attacked Pearl Harbor). You should know that Koreans have a tendency to think foreigners are always smarter than Koreans. Because of this mentality, our science job market cannot put up any defense once foreign PhDs decide to invade Korea.

I do enjoy talking with Korean students in the United States, and this is the reason why I am able to maintain this network system. However, there has been a complete lack of communication on one important point: the life after PhD. When I talk to them, I always have in mind the competition with these high-nosed Americans and Europeans. On the other hand, the students have a completely different idea: go back to Korea and have a comfortable life, and they then laugh at me. They tell me that if chips are down, they can earn big money in the illegal tutoring business. Some of them are telling me that the United States is a bad place to learn English because Koreans have to stick together to have a meaningful life.

I hope very much this new "Uruguay Round" will wake us up. After you go back to Korea, you will have to compete in the environment where foreign scientists are regarded superior to their own. You should therefore learn how to compete while in the United States. I do have a well-established track record in a number of fights against some of the powerful groups in the United States, and I and my close colleagues are looking forward to another exciting showdown in 1995. If you like to learn how to compete, please do not hesitate to contact me.

One of the experts on North Korea once told me that the newspapers there never report fires or natural disasters. The reason is that Kim Il-Sung does (did) not want to hear about them. I sometimes say things you do not wish to hear. We are not in North Korea, and you are not Kim Il-Sung.


Response to Y.S.Kim's notes on the Uruguay Round

Dear Prof. Kim,

I think you deserve their(students') laugh. You should know a very fundamental economic principle - maximum effect with minimum effort. When research is not properly evaluated and rewarded, why would any sane person do research? I told this sentence many times in the past but it deserves repetition - when a construction worker goes to Saudi it means bonus, when a professor goes to one of national labs in the U.S., it means cold dinner. In the absence of a rational reward system it `is' rational to sit idle. Factory workers know it all too well, why do you mot still get it? Research is not for everybody. One has to be paid for that or one has to see it simply as a way of life in his/her profession or, in some rare cases, one has to be sufficiently motivated. As for the 1st case, Korean industry is doing it well. I don't see why you're concerned about research in Korea.

The reason you deserve their laugh is that connection is very important for Koreans. I've seen a guy who dresses up with necktie whenever a professor from Korea shows up. I thought he was attending funeral or job interview. I've seen a student in biomedical science who had to serve his teacher's (from Korea) family(of 4) for 5 days for pure entertainment. The student's wife had to worry about the professor's food preferences. Why is this garbage? Job market is pretty limited and it's cost effective to bribe your professor than making yourself a world-class scientist. Once you become a professor, you can recover your investment from your students who will treat you as you did to your professor. You can have free food/lodge for your summer vacation; you only need to pay for the plane ticket. Didn't I tell you "maximum effect with minimum effort" before? Why walk when you can hitch-hike? So students rarely pass out connections. You can't blame them. You can pity them only when their plan doesn't work (they are not the only child of the professor). You can then laugh at them.

Seung-chan Ahn
Fermilab, Batavia, IL 60510

Note: Unlike Americans, Koreans have a highly cultured teacher/student relation. We should preserve and cultivate this tradition. This is possible only if professors suppress their appetite for free everything from students, particularly those studying abroad. Otherwise, Korea will become a hyper-capitalistic society. Many say that it is too late to reverse the trend.

Maxwell and Marconi

Y.S.Kim (1994.9.5)

In 1995 and 1996, the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gugliemo Marconi's successful development of wireless communication. He was able to send his signal to a receiver two kilometers away in 1895 (in Italy) and 20 kilometers away in 1896 (in England). Since the TV networks are the offsprings of Marconi's invention, they are expected to air programs about him throughout 1995 and 1996.

Marconi was a theoretical physicist. When he was a teenager, he studied Maxwell's equations and became determined to test radiation and propagation of electromagnetic waves, while nobody believed he would be successful. He received the Nobel prize in physics in 1909. Needless to say, Marconi was an exceptional experimentalist. He was also an excellent businessman. After coming to the United States in 1900, he established a wireless communication company. He is also responsible for discovering the "ceiling" in the upper-atmosphere which reflects electromagnetic waves.

In addition, Marconi was an expert on women. While doing his business in New York, he had many mistresses. Since he could not entertain all of them at the same time, he had to hire messenger boys who would carry to them flowers and personal notes from Marconi. At the age of 15, David Sarnoff was one of Marconi's messenger boys. These days, when you drive from the main campus of Princeton University to its Plasma Physics Laboratory, you will see the sign "David Sarnoff Research Center" on your right-hand side. We will talk more about him later in this mail.

I am writing this article because Koreans may and should take a leading role in the second wireless century. Our multinational business firms are doing well in the world market. All they need is the "brain," and our physicists are going to make up this deficiency.

I would also like to stress that the network business is strictly a matter of professionalism, and it is not politics. Many people send me suggestions about what we should do about the future of our network, and most of them express their greed for "gamtu." You should not talk about gamtus to a surgeon in his/her operating room, nor to a banker working on his investment strategy. On the other hand, I would like to encourage our young people to learn from me about the network system. It is an exciting business! In the 21st century, the person who controls the information flow will control the world. I am already working with some of our most brilliant Koreans. Please join our team and contribute your ideas.

Let us now get into the main story. Marconi's ideas indeed flourished in the United States. In a relatively short period after coming to New York in 1900, Marconi established a company selling communication equipments to ocean-going ships. His company also handled trans-Atlantic telegraphs. While he was showing his success, three Americans got on the bandwagon. They were Lee de Forest, Howard Armstrong, and David Sarnoff.

(1) Lee de Forest was an Edison-type engineer. While he was fooling around with vacuum tubes, he somehow added a grid to one of his tubes. He discovered that the voltage on the grid can change the current from anode to cathode. If you are not familiar with vacuum tubes, he was the man who found out why a transistor has to have three prongs, instead of two. De Forest did not understand how his vacuum tubes (triodes) worked, but was able to set up his broadcasting company 20 times, and went bankrupt 20 times (sometimes after bitter court battles). He had to face the disaster after disaster because he did not understand the competition in business.

(2) De Forest's main business rival was Howard Armstrong. He studied under Professor Michael Pupin (Columbia U's physics building is named after him) who was America's No. 1 man on Maxwell's equations at that time. If de Forest gets the credit for inventing vacuum tubes, Armstrong was the first circuit theorist. He had a clear understanding of de Forest's triode while de Forest did not understand his own invention. Thus, Armstrong was able to get ahead by developing circuits where vacuum tubes serve as components. Indeed, Armstrong was the person who developed the concepts and techniques of

(a) multi-stage amplification (called regeneration technique).

(b) heterodyne technique (conversion of a high-frequency radio wave to a different frequency while keeping the signal intact).

(c) FM (you should know the difference between AM and FM).

Armstrong developed the regeneration technique before World War I, and the heterodyne and FM during the period between WWI and WWII.

(3) David Sarnoff was a Jewish immigrant from Russia, and had to deliver newspapers for living before he became Marconi's personal messenger when he was 15 years old. As he grew up, he became Marconi's most trusted manager. Sarnoff was not a scientist, but was able to appreciate Armstrong's inventions. Eventually, Sarnoff hired Armstrong in his own company named RCA (Radio Corporation of America), and used all of Armstrong's inventions for his business purposes. Sarnoff then lost interest in Armstrong and fired him, because he became interested in a new animal called television. After completing the black-white TV, Sarnoff was not satisfied. In 1949, Sarnoff decided to invest 150 million dollars (comparable to Korea's national budget at that time) to the development of color TVs.

In the 1950s, a new revolution started taking place in electronic industry. Transistors!! This revolution is still going on.

Let us now look at the history of Korea's wireless communication. After the United States decided to join World War I, all three of the above- mentioned Americans, together with their equipments and labs, became mobilized to the war effort. While this was going on, one of the newspaper companies in Pittsburgh developed the idea of news broadcast using this new wireless communication system. Indeed, the first commercial radio station with regular broadcasting program was Pittsburgh's KDKA station, and this station is still operating. The station covered the U.S. presidential election returns in 1920. RCA's David Sarnoff was not an idle spectator. He bought up 26 radio stations in the United States and formed a network called NBC in 1926.

While this was going on in the United States, Japanese installed their first broadcasting station in Tokyo in 1925. They also developed the network system called NHK (Japan Broadcasting Association). At that time, Korea was under the Japanese rule, and Japanese authorities extended the NHK network to the Korean peninsula resulting in a broadcasting station in Seoul in 1927, one year after Sarnoff completed his network system in the United States. The Seoul radio station (now called HLKA) was called JODK, while the Tokyo station was called JOAK. Before Seoul, the Japanese government installed two more broadcasting stations in Japan, one in Osaka (JOBK), and the other in Nagoya (JOCK).

After 1945, the Seoul Station became Korea's central broadcasting station (now called KBS) with an output of 50 kilowatts, enough to cover the entire peninsula and southern Manchuria. Its AM frequency was 0.97 MHZ. Pyongyang had a 10-kw station with its AM frequency 1.01 MHZ. It was possible to hear Radio Pyongyang in Seoul. On the other hand, other stations in Korea had outputs of 500 watts or less. For instance, Pusan had a 500-watt station barely enough to cover the city. When North Korean forces captured Seoul in June 29, 1950, the communists had two major stations talking loudly. The South (or UN) had to borrow transmitters in Japan to cover the entire country. The citizens of Seoul, while under the communist rule, heard the voice from the South, but they did not know the radio waves were coming from Japan.

The FM technique was invented by Armstrong before WWII, but David Sarnoff suppressed the FM network in an attempt to dump him. For this reason, the FM radio did not become popular in the United States until the 1950s. However, Koreans picked up the FM techniques immediately after 1945. On August 19, 1949, the Korean Navy had its naval show near a small island about 10 kilometers away from Inchon. This was of course a part of the annual 8.15 celebration. Korea's combat fleet consisted of ten US-built mine sweepers each equipped with one 37 mm gun. It was a typical bath-tub navy, but this event was important enough for the broadcasting station to give a live coverage. I was on one of the two observation ships. President Rhee and his Austrian-born wife were on the other ship (more luxurious of course). The live broadcast was sent from the observation ship to Seoul's main station via FM. This was the first application of Armstrong's FM technology in Korea.

I can mention many more events. The point is that before 1950, during the pre-transistor period, Korea was behind but not much behind in radio communication. Using scarce resources (mostly from the obsolete equipments abandoned by the U.S. military units), Korean technicians did their best to catch up with the United States.

While Korean engineers were quite up to date on new technologies, the radio programs were far behind. This is why I continued monitoring Japan's NHK programs using my short wave equipment. Of course, the Japanese radio people were not idle in developing new techniques. In 1953, they tried a stereo broadcast using two separate AM transmitters. This was a stupid idea in view of the FM stereo technology available today. Yet, it was an idea worth trying at that time. In July 1953, NHK's Tokyo station used its two AM stations (JOAK1 and JOAK2) to broadcast Suwa Nejiko's performance of violin concerto No. 3 by Saint Saens. The short wave version was still monophonic, and I recorded her historic performance using my high-school's tape recorder [at that time tape recorders were extremely rare and expensive]. I often tell this story to my Japanese friends to impress them, and they indeed become impressed.

Why is Ms. Suwa so important? There are three Japanese personalities responsible for reconstructing their morale after the disastrous defeat in the Pacific War. The first one is Yukawa Hideki (Nobel 1949), the second one is Misora Hibari (pop singer; her grandfather was a Korean), and the third Suwa Nejiko. Suwa studied in France, and became the first world-class violinist from Japan. The performance I recorded was her first one in Japan after a triumphant return from France. If you are a Korean, cheer up! These days, our Chung Kyung-Wha is the best player of Saint Saens!

I have been interested in electronic communications since my high-school days. This is why I have been able to develop one of the respected computer communication systems in the physics community. The question then is what it has to do with physics. This is my ultimate weapon with with I can make my original work known to the world and with which I can protect myself against possible professional piracy.

--- Addendum: Korea's Electric Power Generation

Very often these days, we hear about the nuclear power stations to be built in North Korea. They are talking about constructing two stations each with an output of 1,000 megawatts. The combined output will be 2,000 megawatts. How does this compare with the figures familiar to us? The total capacity in the South appears to be approximately 30,000 megawatts. During the last summer (unusually hot), the consumption rate was as much as 25,000 megawatts.

In 1945, the total capacity in the entire peninsula was approximately 850 megawatts, including the 600 megawatt facility in the Soopung hydro station. Three days before the 5.10 election in 1948, North Korean authorities cut off the power supply to the South. The South at that time was not able to produce more than 60 megawatts, including the output from the generating ships "Jagona" and "Electric" hastily brought from the United States. The Hwachun hydro station with capacity of 50 megawatts was and still is located north of the 38th parallel, but it now belongs to the South. When I left Korea in 1954, the South's total capacity was approximately 150 megawatts. The capacity grew to 300 megawatts toward 1960.

When I was riding the bus from Princeton to New York through New Jersey Turnpike around 1960, I used to see a small oil-burning station with a sign saying "Linden Power Generating Station - Output 350,000 Kilowatts" (= 350 megawatts). I used to get distressed to note that this single station could generate more power than one country (that happened to be mine) could. Since then, Koreans did very well in building power stations. These days, more than 50% of the total output comes nuclear stations.

Korea's faculty recruiting process - open and fair competition

Y.S.Kim (1994.9.22)

Korea's faculty recruiting process (at least in physics) is now based on the principle of open and fair competition. Certainly, our email network plays the central role in this process. However, the idea is not new. When I started making the address list of Korean physicists in the United States by punching IBM cards in 1977, Prof. Koh Yoon Suk of SNU was visiting the U.S. He gave me a big boost by sending me his list of the SNU graduates in US. We should thank Prof. Koh.

During the period 1977-1991, our directory program had to rely on the U.S. Mail Service and on the xerox copying process. In 1978, Prof. Song Hi Sung of SNU, then the Chairman of SNU's physics department, sent air mails announcing a faculty position to most of the people on the list. Some of you will remember the joke that Prof. Song circulated the letter in order to tell his friends that he became the Chairman. It is indeed my pleasure to "disclose the secret" that the process of open and fair competition was initiated by Prof. Song in 1978.

The idea of using an email system was not mine. When I was visiting Prof. Wigner at Princeton in 1989, Dr. Kang Woowon (then a cute-looking graduate student there) told me that I should use emails to organize the directory. This idea then developed in parallel with my effort to construct an inter- national network system in order to provide communication support for a number of international conferences. For this purpose, I needed an automated mail answering system. Indeed, Mr. Zinn Shun-Yong of UMD worked out the needed software for our "world famous" robot system. Mr. Zinn is a computer genius. Our robot now has a new address: . Easy to remember!

Communication among Asians

Y.S.Kim (1994.10.7)

Whenever the word "Sohn Kee Chung" (1936 Olympic marathon gold medalist) is mentioned, our emotion toward Japan becomes excited, and we are definitely interested in what Japanese have to say about him. Last week, I watched a Japanese TV program covering the life of Sohn Kee Chung, and I feel obliged to tell you the following story.

  1. The program consisted of old films which are quite familiar to us, and six panelists making comments. The emotion shown by those panelists was exactly the same as ours, and the program was like the one we watch from the Korean TV programs. One of the panelists (Japanese woman) was almost in tears when the following point was discussed.
  2. As you know, the Korean athletes Ham Kiyong, Song Kilyoon, and Choi Yoonchil took the first, second and third places respectively at the 54th Boston marathon competition in April of 1950 (two months before the 6.25), and they had been coached by Sohn Kee Chung. In 1951, Korea was not able to send anyone to Boston for the reason you do not have to learn from Japanese. The 1951 Boston winner was Tanaka Shikeki from Japan, and he received a congratulatory telegram from our Sohn Kee Chung. The TV program showed the telegram saying


This message is in Japanese, but you can guess what it means even if you do not understand spoken Japanese. I do not know whether the telegram was sent to Boston or to Japan. I assume, however, that the telecommunication from Korea to Japan or to the United States was possible only in English. That is why the telegram was typed in alphabet characters.

Since Son Kitei is his official Olympic name, his choice of this name cannot make him a pro-Japanese traitor. It is interesting to note that he started his message with "Tanaka-Gun" instead of "Tanaka-San." "Gun" pronounced as "Goon" in Japanese means "Goon" in Korean). Most certainly, it is not appropriate to exercise nationalism when you address to your colleagues, particularly to junior colleagues. This telegram teaches us an important lesson.

Unlike our Hangul, the Japanese phonetic characters do not have vowel- consonant combinations, and they consist of only 51 syllables. It is thus a simple matter to construct these syllables using English alphabets. It is also a simple matter for them to use their own language in the English-based email communication system, and they do.

However, because of the lack of flexibility in their own characters, Japanese heavily rely on Chinese characters called Kanji (we call Hanja). The Chinese characters are also important to us. In fact, there was a conference in Seoul last week on how to standardize the Chinese characters among the Hanja- using countries. You might be interested in reading the following emails from Professor Yukiko Tagami who is working for the Heisei Committee on Science and Technology. She wrote a book entitled "Japanese for Foreign Scientists," and this book is available with the compliments of International Communication Foundation (ICF). If you like to have a free copy of this book (your library should have it), you may send your request via email to Prof. Tagami. Here are her mails.

From: MX%"" 15-SEP-1994 21:55:28.16
To: MX%""

Daar Professor Kim:

Thank you very much for your note `Maxwell and Marconi`. In one place you maintain that "In the 21st century, the person who controls the information flow will control the world", but that is also my favourite phrase. I often use it to encourage some foreign (non-Asian) students as they are newly en- rolled in our Japanese language programs and find mastering Kanjis very hard.

At present many Japanese computer companies are developing future computers equipped with direct Kanji input (currently we type in alphabets or Kanas which are then internally converted to Kanjis). As you know, to communicate, for example, the concept b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l you need 9 strokes on the keyboard, while the Kanji for the same concept consists of one character, which requires a mere 1 stroke! Most Kanji characters as used in Japanese language comprises many subtle concepts (developed mainly by Japanese) in addition to original sound and meaning (developed mainly by Chinese). So in my reasoning smaller number of strokes, or definitely shorter time you are required to transmit your information to others will eventually lead to the hegemony of Kanji-using people over non-Kanji users in the future???

How about that? Sincerely yours,
Yukiko Tagami

From: MX%"" 30-SEP-1994 04:37:37.10
To: MX%""
Subj: Kanji Information

Dear Professor Kim:

Thank you very much for your letter of Sept. 27, 1994. I do not mind your quoting my letter(s). I should add that I had been intrigued by the multitude of Kanji characters that were originated in Japan but not in China- --part of the list of those Kanjis will be found on page 4 of my Japanese- language textbook I sent you last July---until an authority explained to me that around the beginning of this century (when the People's Republic of China was about to emerge) many Japanese documents on European ideologies such as Marxism were translated by Japanese and introduced to China, and along the way lots of made-in-Japan Kanjis were created.

As for myself, presumably like most Japanese, I have used Kanjis without thinking much about their Japanese or Chinese origin most of the time.

Sincerely yours,
Yukiko Tagami

New ideas? We need a computer journal.

Y.S.Kim (1994.9.22)

Young people these days are asking me what I have in mind for the future of our network system. My answer is very simple. It is their responsibility to figure out. Brilliant ideas do not come overnight. Since the network affects many people, you can get workable ideas only after exchanging views with others. In other words, we need a journal!

Here is how our computer journalism is going to work. Send an email to [] with MAGAZINE.KOR on your Subject line. You will get three files containing the articles which have been distributed in the past.

You are encouraged to submit your own articles for broadcasting. Write an article or letter (one page or two), and send it to . If appropriate, we will broadcast it and then store it in one of our magazine files. Needless to say, your article should be compatible with journalistic ethics (use common sense). We will not accept articles having to do with political issues, gamtu games, or nuclear weapons.

Why do we need this journalism? Here is the answer.

In ancient Greece, there was a very wise man, wise enough to know that the city council meetings were not accomplishing much. As you know, even these days, committee meetings do not produce much. He thus never attended the council meetings. His fellow citizens quite rightly complained that he symbolizes the person who never contributes his wisdom to the community. His name was Idiot. Idiot was indeed a smart man like us. He simply refused to make his views known to others.

There are many Greek-style idiots in our Korean community. In ancient China, there was a very wise man whose name sounds like Heo-Yoo. One day, he was invited by the king of his country to become the prime minister. Immediately after hearing the king's message, he washed his ears because he heard the dirtiest thing in his life. You should have heard this story, and he is known to us as the ultimate wiseman.

You will agree that Idiot and Heo-Yoo were the same person. However, the East-West cultural difference makes this person to appear as two opposite characters. The question then is whether we are going to stick to the Eastern view and behave like Idiot in the Western world, or throw away completely the Eastern tradition and imitate Westerners. Neither!

Because we understand the Eastern values (we hope), we can create a higher dimension of understanding Idiot. Yes, the truth must be somewhere between the Eastern Idiot and the Western Idiot. This is what Westerners cannot do. I have been saying that we have to build a bridge between the East and the West in order to compete with and get ahead of our Westerner colleagues. The story of Idiot illustrates this point.

I have been telling stories like this for sometime. Many people are asking me how I get the "raw materials" for my stories. Well, I get them just like you, when I listen to others, watch TV, read newspapers, and even when I read physics articles. The question should be how I can organize the raw materials to manufacture stories. Indeed, I learned how to do this from my high-school teachers.

Before 1945, many Koreans went to Japan to study, as we come to the United States these days. During the period 1943-45, Japanese authorities drafted all of them to their army and sent them to their Chinese front. We call this group of people Hak-Byung. Some of them ran away to join the Korean Independence Army, and some of them were too weak to run when the Japanese army retreated. When they came back to Korea after 1945, many of them had to teach in high schools. I attended one of those high schools with a reasonable concentration of Hak-Byungs. As you know, this Hak-Byung group later published the monthly magazine "Sasang-Ge" which led to the 4.19 student revolution in 1960. The Hak-Byung group had an usual talent of talking to students. If I am able to talk to younger people, it is due to the skill I learned from my Hak-Byung teachers.

Speaking of the source of the Idiot story, I heard it from Senator Paul Sarbanes from Maryland when he was delivering a commencement speech at UMD twelve years ago. He was telling the young graduates that they should be active participants of democracy. Sarbanes did his undergraduate work at Princeton and continued his study at the Harvard Law School. When he was a senior at Princeton in 1954, he received the Maurice Pyne Prize for scholarship and leadership. His father came from Greece.

If you think I am a heavy-weight intellectual, it is because I have been and still am able to learn things from men/women who are older than I am, unlike some of the young people these days.

If a Korean physicist became a full professor (in 1993) at a highly respectable U.S. university 8 years after getting his Ph.D. degree, he deserves our respect. He is making his wisdom available to us.


Dear Prof. Kim,

I agree with you in that the East and the West cultures can be bridged and in the importance of contributing one's wisdom to society. I think that the recognition, or intellectual understanding, of the differences or rather complementarity of the two cultures is very important. In Christianity, it is called solitude and community. In Buddhism, it is called Bum-A-Ill-Chae, i.e. the whole and the I are unity and inseparable. These religious spiritualities have of course a more profound meaning than the practical manifestations in human culture. It should be emphasized that the strong orientation of the West toward individuals and the more weight given to the whole community in the Eastern culture are not mutually exclusive but complementary.

Thus somehow bridging these two cultures will no doubt lead to a very powerful and more complete spirit. The Western thrust in human life through the promotion of individual rights and values, and freedom of and competition among individuals, have of no doubt a particular significance to humanity. However, I do not think that the accompanying methodologies of individualism, such as the separation, reduction, or isolation of individuals in society are as effective for the life community as they are for understanding and constructing the mechanical world. Trying to build a very high-quality mechanical (i.e. lifeless) system through the construction of perfect component parts is, I think, an effective way for machines, because in machines the total sum of individual components equals the whole system.

It usually is OK if a defective part is replaced to fix an ailing machine, but that is not enough in curing an ailing human body or in making right the societal wrongs. For living systems, the whole system has an extra full dimension above and beyond the simple sum of isolated, independent individuals. That extra dimension could be the culture, religious spirit, human history, or some other things.

The promotion of individual rights and fulfillments is of a great value only in the context of wholeness of all humanity, all sentient beings, or even all living beings. If it keeps promoting the survival-of-the-fittest kind of mentality, it is more harmful not only to the whole society, but eventually to the individual itself. The greatest contribution to humanity by the reductionistic/isolationistic approach, I think, is the development of material wealth and infrastructure in the modern society. In addition to helping people to be liberated from the basic material needs of food, clothing and shelter, the global telecommunication and transportation is liberating people from the spatial bondage, and at the same time it brings in a profound spiritual challenge. The increasing degree of intimate (external) contacts among different ethnicities, cultures and religions by means of the information highway, global transportation and migration, and the global economy, is clearly exposing the humanity to a new and much greater challenge in the (inner) human spirituality than at any time in history. This is challenging our human spirit to transcend the present status quo to a new and much higher level. The more integral or holistic view of life has traditionally been a strong point of the East.

Wie, Chu Ryang
Sept. 28, 1994

MX%"" 29-SEP-1994 10:43:17.22
Tel: (716) 645-2422, ext 1211 (O), (716) 645-2504 (H)
Fax: (716) 645-5964

Let us look at Prof. Wie's curriculum vitae.


Academic Positions Awards & Honors Listed in: Research Interests: Simulation and Design of Optoelectronic Devices (laser, modulator, waveguide, filter, fibre, etc.); Interface Engineering and Atomic Level Characterization and Control of Semiconductor Interface (Growth, Structure, Electrical/Optical property, and Device