Wisdom of Korea (1995, January -- May)


Y.S.Kim (1995.1.5)

Samuel Langley is a prominent name in the U.S. Air Force, and one major A.F. base is named after him. The reason is very simple. He was the pioneer in developing flying machines. He was crazy enough to put a steam engine into one of his unmanned aircrafts before the internal combustion engine was available.

Yet, the Wright Brothers are known to be the inventors of the airplane, even though they did not know too much about engines. Indeed, they used a teen-can engine in their first successful flight. Instead of worrying about engines, the Wright Brothers systematically carried out experiments on how their "bird" can adjust itself to changing wind conditions on an Atlantic beach near Kitty Hawk (North Carolina). Langley's aircraft had a much more sophisticated engine. Yet, the result was that one could fly and the other could not, because the wind condition was and still is unstable.

I have already made my point. If you do not wish to compare yourself to a machine, I can mention a human being. As you know, Rhee Seung-man, the first President of Korea, always wanted to hear what he liked to hear. During the 6.25 conflict, he did not like the Korean armed forces being controlled by Americans. One day, Rhee invited top-ranking Korean generals to a lunch and asked them who is commanding the Korean Army. The generals told him the commander of the UN Forces is commanding the Korean Army. However, there was one person who told a different story. He quoted the sentence from Korea's Constitution specifying the President's position in the armed forces. It is not difficult to guess who became the Army Chief of Staff next morning.

This is a simplified version of a much more complicated story. However, those who have some knowledge of Korea's recent history can tell the name of the general who produced the correct answer to his President. His name was Chung Il-Kwon. He was a promising young officer in the Japanese army until August 1945. In 1946, he was the first Korean soldier who learned how to operate the M-1 rifle, while Americans were not sure about Koreans' ability to handle such a sophisticated machine. He was also able to adjust himself to Korea's turbulent political winds until he died last year.

I often become frustrated when I talk with our young physicists looking for jobs. Many of them still think job-hunting is like taking an entrance examination. In the exam, all you have to do is to get a higher score than others. In job-hunting, however, the basic issue is how useful you are to your prospective employer. From your point of view, it is a matter of how you could adjust yourself to the environment controlled by your boss. For instance, if you like to get a postdoc position with Steven Weinberg, it is essential that you study his papers before seeing him. You should talk about his papers rather than your own if and when he invites you for an interview.

Of course, I realize that I should not preach what I cannot practice. Paul A. M. Dirac and Eugene P. Wigner were known to be two most difficult persons to talk to, but I used to talk and listen to them freely. What was the magic? I simply followed the example of Chung Il-Kwon. At the time of the 6.25 war, not many generals knew about the Constitution, but it is safe to assume that Chung studied it immediately after the Constitution was adopted on July 17, 1948 (as he learned how to operate the American rifle in 1946). This is why he was able to produce the correct answer to Rhee's difficult question. Simple enough indeed! When I was studying Dirac's papers and Wigner's papers, many of my colleagues, especially my Korean friends, laughed at me. Perhaps I looked stupid to them, but not to Dirac and Wigner because I was able to talk about their own papers whenever I met them.


Y.S.Kim (995.2.7)

Many of my young friends are asking me to tell stories about Lee Whee-So known internationally as Benjamin Lee. I met him as early as 1956 (his mother had a contact with my family many years before), and we used to tease girls together while we both were students. However, it is not appropriate for me to add another set of stories because there are already too many. Some of them are true, and some of them are not exactly true. What we need at this time is to clear up this confusion.

Fortunately, there is one undisputable way to tell the true story. Ben Lee published many many important papers. His papers are clear, understandable and to the point. To me, the most important feature of his papers is that you can tell they were written by a Korean author. It is thus quite appropriate for us to publish an edited volume consisting of all the articles written by Benjamin Lee. This edited volume will indeed tell the true story about him.

We all respect Ben Lee as an outstanding scientist, and we can learn lessons from his papers. If someone can take an initiative in approaching one of from his papers. If someone can take an initiative in approaching one of the publishing companies in Korea, I will be very happy to share the burden of the editorial work. If others are also interested in this work, we can should all cooperate.

Even though I am not saying anything about Ben Lee other than the proposal I made above, I can still make a comment on those who say about him.

In Pyongyang, on October 14, 1945, a young Korean man threw a hand grenade to another young Korean who was heavily protected by the Soviet body guards. Some of those body guards were killed or wounded, but the young man was untouched, and gave his "triumph" speech before somewhat skeptical crowd. This man ruled North Korea until his death last year.

Why did Koreans give him this hostile welcome? The reason is that this young man did not coincide with the image of Kim Il-Sung which we had before the 8.15. As you know, the Western ethics is still based on the second coming of Jesus, and this is why you have to behave properly even in the U.S.A. Likewise, under the harsh Japanese rule, we had to create an image of our hero who could liberate us from the bondage. In 1945, Koreans believed that Kim Il-Sung could produce many miracles. Indeed, in 1946, the newspaper reporters from Seoul visited Pyongyang and asked this young Kim Il-Sung how to contract the land: reduce the size of Manchuria to the size of Pyongyang. Do you like to know how he answered this question?

It is a widely accepted view among Korean physicists that the Ben Lee mania is an image-making process. This is not unlike the process in which we created our own image of Kim Il-Sung to console ourselves under the brutal Japanese rule. The question then is whether there is any reason for us to console ourselves this much at this time. Yes, there seems to be a problem, and the physicists should play a more active role to correct this problem. The first step in this process is for us to understand correctly Ben Lee's contribution to physics.

Land Contraction Techniques

Y.S.Kim (1995.2.21)

I would like to follow-up on the question of the land contraction method which was believed to have been developed by Kim Il-Sung. When the reporters asked North Korea's Kim I.S. how he developed this method, he said that this was one of the minor techniques and that the question should be directed to his military staff members. This answer did not satisfy the reporters and enhanced his reputation as "gazza" Kim I.S.

You will be interested to know that even Japanese believed the legend of Kim Il-Sung. After 1945, many Japanese authors wrote books criticizing their own behavior during the World War II. Among them, the best seller was "Ningen-no Jyoken" (conditions for human being) written by Komikawa Jinpei in 1951. The cinema version of this book is also available. This 9-hour film describes how Japanese soldiers behaved in Manchuria during their final years. Two of the main players in the movie secretly discuss what will happen to this land (Manchuria) if they leave after their expected defeat. Then they wonder whether "Kin Nit-sei" (their way of pronouncing Kim Il-Sung) is going to take over. They were not talking about the person who later became North Korea's ruler.

If you read my earlier articles, you will note that I have a non-trivial interest in military affairs. I have been and still am interested in Kim Il-Sung's land contraction method. You will agree that our email network is one of the land contraction techniques.


Y.S.Kim (1995.2.26)

After my broadcast about Ben Lee on Feb. 7, many students urged me to tell some background stories about him because they know nothing about him except what they hear from non-physicists. This is a total surprise to me, because, whenever I meet Korean students, they tell me they never heard of my name in Korea and then ask me whether I ever heard of the person named Lee Whee-So.

Yet, it is still my position that I will not add anything to the polluted literature about BL (Ben Lee). The pollution is caused by conflicting stories about what he did and what he did not. The literature however does not say anything about how he was when he was a student. Quite naturally, our young people are interested in how he was before becoming an established physicist. With this understanding, I can say something about him.

Before getting into the story, let us fix the time scale. I entered SNU's Engineering College in 1954 (spring), and became a freshman at Carnegie- Mellon U. in 1954 (fall). In 1958, I went to Princeton to start my graduate work, and received my PhD degree there in 1961. I remained there as a postdoc fellow for one more year before joining the faculty of the Univ. of Maryland in 1962.

BL entered SNU's Engineering College in 1952, two years before I did. In 1956, after finishing his undergraduate study at Miami Univ. in Oxford, Ohio, he came to the Univ. of Pittsburgh which is adjacent to Carnegie's campus. At that time, there were not many Koreans in the United States, especially in Pittsburgh which is still an isolated city. We thus had a commune-style life together.

While he was a graduate student at Pitt, BL asked a sharp question to Abraham Klein of the Univ. of Pennsylvania while he was giving a seminar there. BL became Klein's graduate student at U.Penn in 1958. In the same year, I went to Princeton as I said above. Since Princeton is so boring to a person like myself, I went to New York or Philadelphia during the weekends. When I went to Philadelphia, I often stayed in BL's apartment. In 1961, BL came to Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, and I stayed in the same town with him for another year.

Students ask me whether BL was a real or ordinary person. My answer is that he was both real and ordinary. Like ordinary people, he and I spent many many hours in talking about girls. He was quite fond of one of the secular magazines and used to explain to me about the center-page characters. By the way, I can be very bad too. In Pittsburgh, there was a Korean girl who used to complain that Korean boys lack disciplines, and we decided to give her a rough time. One day, BL met her on the street while she was carrying a tennis racket and a record disk. Ben asked her what the disk was, but she refused to answer. Ben then snatched the disk from her, found out the disk contained songs by Elvis Presley. Alas! A Korean girl listening to Elvis? Unthinkable, and cannot get married! Good old days!

BL and I talked about many books and personalities. I will mention a couple of books which I think our students should read. BL had a deep knowledge in the Bible. He studied very rigorously the Book of Job in the Old Testament. My mother used to tell me and others that I was able to recite verses from the Gospel of Matthew before I learned how to speak properly. This is of course an exaggeration, yet it tells that my Bible knowledge is not trivial. I used the Book of Job as a bridge between the Eastern and Western values, and this is why I am able to preach simultaneously "internationalization" and Confucianism. I suspect that BL used this book as an entry ticket to the Jewish community of physicists where he was a very popular figure. I would like to urge you to read this part of the Old Testament. If you have read it, read it again as BL did.

Among the books written by Korean authors, we talked about Lee Kwang Soo's "Minjok Kaejo-ron." These days, Lee.K.S. is a controversial figure due to some of the pro-Japanese speeches he gave during the final years of the unfortunate colonial rule. However, in 1923 when he wrote his "Minjok-," he was one of the respected leaders among young Koreans. In this book, he clearly spelled out the weaknesses Koreans had (and still have). One of the items he mentioned in his book is Koreans' attitude toward the fellow Koreans who outperform them (Seung-ki Ja).

There are many Koreans who tried to approach BL but were turned off by his "anti-Korean attitude." I would like to recommend that they read Lee Kwang Soo's "Minjok --" and figure out how they looked to BL. This is not the end of the story. After getting turned down by BL, they used to come to me and ask me in high-pitch voice why I am so hopelessly slow in my advancement. They also looked quite ugly to me. BL was not a saint, but he was a saint compared with some of today's particle theorists.

BL was quite knowledgeable about Koreans with talents. After the division of the country, many Koreans moved from the North to the South, and I am one of them. On the other hand, the South was not a heaven. For this reason, a number of talented people moved from the South to North. We talked about them, and BL said openly in 1957 that both Koreas should open up a trade relation with each other. At that time, you could have been arrested in Korea for saying things like this. When I said the same thing to my American friends, they became very angry and told me to go back to Korea.

However, BL had absolutely no interest in who was in charge of the government. For instance, when Park Chung Hee took over the government in 1961, every Korean in the United States was upset. BL could not care less; he was only interested in doing physics. His total lack of interest in "who is in charge" frustrated many people, and presumably this is why there is a confusion about his political preferences.

BL's PhD dissertation at the Univ. of Pennsylvania was entitled "Two-pion Exchange Mechanism for K^{+}N Scattering," and was published in Phys. Rev. Volume 121, page 1550 (1961). I would like to urge you to look at this paper and compare it with your own thesis. I would say that he wrote a very modest thesis, but you should also look at the paper he published with Behrends, Dreitline, and Fronsdal in Rev. Mod. Phys. Volume 34, page 1 (1962). BL was the principal author of this paper entitled "Simple Groups and Strong Interaction Symmetries," and he gave me its preprint copy in September of 1961. If you read these two papers, you can measure the speed with which BL could learn new subjects. Indeed, he had a "time contraction" technique, just like (real) Kim Il-Sung had a technique of space contraction.

Even though I claim to be an authority in Kim Il-Sung's military tactics, I am not able to figure out how BL's time contraction method worked. A partial answer to this question is that he never hesitated learning things from others, even from me. This is in sharp contrast to the case with our young physicists these days. How many of you can afford to learn physics or anything from me? It is not because the young people are stupid, but because they know everything, everything better than I do. I read fortunes from fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants. One of them said "genius can learn from idiot, but idiot cannot learn anything from genius." True!

I have been in close contact with him for six years while he was making his preparations for becoming an outstanding physicist. However, there was one item we never discussed: Nobel Prize. Yet, I know that my young friends are going to force me to answer the question of whether BL was going to get the Prize? This is not a simple question, and I will have to divide it up into three parts.

  1. Did he have enough talent for the prize? My answer is YES.
  2. Did he do enough work to deserve the prize? You should get your own answer by reading his papers.
  3. Did he have a correct strategy for the prize. NO, in my opinion.
Of course I am risking my own reputation by giving these answers, but I feel obliged. I would like to encourage our young physicists to work out their own strategies as early as possible. If you do not make it, it is fine, and you will still be remembered as an excellent physicist. Unless you try, you will never get it.

In order to get the prize, you should create your own physics. You should then convince the world that your work deserves the prize. Each step is a difficult process, and you cannot do both at the same time. Then which one should you do first? You should do your creative work while you are young, and do your prize politics after you become old enough to understand this imperfect world. This is how you should work out your strategy.


Y.S.Kim (1995.3.10)

Korean students in the United States know about Japanese cars, but they tend to have long lists of pro-Japanese traitors. Sometimes their lists contain my name. When I tell them they should know more about Japan, they say that they do not like my authoritarian style of talking about the subject they dislike.

I decided to write this article because, in Japan, there may be many postdoc positions available to Koreans. It is not a bad idea for Koreans to spend their postdoc years in Japan after finishing their degrees in the U.S. before going back to Korea. It is not a bad idea for Koreans, after receiving their PhD degrees in Korea, to get further training in Japan. The purpose of this article is to explain why Japan has to import postdocs while they are exporting everything else.

You of course know what happened in August 15, 1945, but not many of you know why the United States hastily arranged Japan's peace treaty with all the nations affected by the Japanese military venture. Korea and China (communist) did not attend the San Francisco Conference in 1951 which produced the peace treaty. The treaty went into effect on one of the days in April 1952. On that day (I do not remember the exact date), I stayed late in the night tuned to one of Japan's NHK radio stations. I was interested in whether the stations would be allowed to broadcast their national anthem at the conclusion of their broadcast day.

Right, Japanese were not allowed to sing their national anthem in public places for seven years after their unconditional surrender. If I tell this story to my Korean friends, they all say that Japan should have waited for 100 years instead of seven. Koreans are not the only ones who insist on 100 years. Indeed, after the defeat in 1945, the consensus in Japan was that it would take at least 100 years to rebuild the country without miracles.

Indeed, there came the miracles. In 1949, three big events shook up the United States. First, China became an unfriendly communist state. Second, the Soviet Union broke the U.S. nuclear monopoly by exploding their own fission bomb. Third, a Japanese physicist got Nobel prize. These are the factors which forced the United States to rebuild Japan in order to stop the expansion of communism in Asia. In June of 1950, John Foster Dulles, as a special presidential envoy, came to Japan to negotiate the peace treaty with Yoshida Shigeru, who was Japan's prime minister from 1946 to 1954 (life-time prime minister compared with today's short-lived ones). Before returning to the U.S., Dulles came to Korea and visited the 38th parallel one week before the 6.25. Many of you have seen the photograph of Dulles standing at a military post looking toward the the North. North Korean authorities later used this photo to assert that the South invaded the North first and that Dulles ordered to do so. Japan was John Foster's main business.

Then came the hot war in Korea. During this period, the United States used Japan as the logistic base for the military operations in Korea, and poured billions and billions of dollars into the Japanese economy. Indeed, Nissan and Toyota were able to set up their assembly lines during this war period. John Foster Dulles became the U.S. Secretary of State under the Eisenhower administration in 1953. Prime Minister Yoshida was bold enough to tell Secretary Dulles that Japan was interested in becoming a major supplier of consumer goods to the United States. Dulles of course did not take Yoshida's remark seriously in 1953.

This is how Japanese contracted 100 years to 7 years in reconstructing their industry. Am I saying that this was purely due to the external factors such as the war in Korea. No! Japanese are very resourceful people. They were able to make it because they had the ability to do so. There are indeed many books written about how Japan was able to create the economic miracle starting from the ashes left from the war. These days, Japanese school boys and girls are asked to write essays on this subject. They are mighty proud of their own achievement.

Among the literature on this subject, I would like recommend a Japanese film entitled "Seven Samurai" which is readily available from video shops through- out the United States. This movie is often shown in Japanese film festivals happening often on college campuses in the U.S. This four-hour film was produced by Kurosawa Akira in 1954. As some of you may know, Kurosawa is one of most respected film producers in the world. The point of this movie is that Samurai warriors create messes, but farmers' life is left untouched, and therefore the farmers are always the winners in the battle. Here, Kurosawa borrows scenes from the 15th century Japan to address that Japan's post-war reconstruction was possible because Japan is an agriculture-based country. In other words, Kurosawa shows that Japan is exactly like Korea.

These days, one of the Korean TV stations is airing a TV drama series entitled "Kareisky" dealing with Koreans who were forced to move to Central Asia by Stalin in 1937. Koreans start from nothing, but they start from something: Korea's agrarian tradition. This drama is not different from Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. In 1978, I submitted an article to one of KPS the journals insisting that Korea has to build a Nobel culture particularly for our younger generation. In this article, I stated that our Nobel culture should start from our agrarian base. This article was rejected by the KPS editorial board, but it was published in a number of campus newspapers in Korea, and my view was echoed in one of the major daily newspapers in 1983. This negative decision by KPS prompted my effort to communicate directly with my young friends. I think I am doing OK these days.

Let us go back to Japan. Fifty years after 1945, Japan is now an economic superpower, and the country has no problems. Wrong! The consensus among the Japanese intellectuals is that Japanese can make cars and TV sets better than Americans do, but they do not have enough "kokoro" to face the 21st century. The word "kokoro" is unique in Japan. It usually means heart and mind. If you love someone, you have to say that you love him/her from your kokoro. It also means mentality or ability to be creative. It is said in Japan these days that it is one hundred times or even one thousand times more difficult to produce "kokoro" than to produce cars or cameras. It might take another 100 years or even 1,000 years.

Whenever I meet a reasonable looking Japanese, I tell him/her that the Univ. of Tokyo should be closed down. They usually laugh while shaking their heads vertically (agreeing with me). One of them explained to me that the Univ. of Tokyo is still in the Edo era (meaning that everything coming from the West is mysterious and precious). This kind of thinking in Japan is called "Hakurai" mentality (this word is still used by elder people in Korea). The fact is that their Univ. of Tokyo is still the bastion of the Hakurai mentality, and it is not likely that things will change soon. Why?

We do not see many Japanese girls on campuses in the United States, because Japanese girls cannot get married in Japan if they have been abroad for extended period. Likewise, Japanese boys cannot get job in Japan unless they went to their standard universities in Japan. This is the fundamental reason why there are not many Japanese students in the United States. It is not likely that this social structure will change soon.

On the other hand, in order to maintain and develop their sophisticated industrial base, they need scientists who can compete with their counterparts in the United States and the Western Europe. However, their educational institutions are far behind, primarily because of the lack of the people who studied in the Western world. The system cannot produce the required quantity of quality scientists who can run the Japanese industry. This story was not invented by me. I am quoting various Japanese sources. Recently, Japan's NHK TV showed a program comparing the graduate research program of the Univ. of Tokyo with that of MIT. The TV program was warning that Japan will become hopelessly behind unless they do something about their graduate education. Even if they decide to do something, it will take time. In the meantime, Japan's only solution is to import scientists, and they have enough money to do so.

Americans are reluctant to go to Japan. There are no Japanese postdoc candidates with the Western educational background. Thus, the Koreans are in the best position to fill this gap. As for scientists produced in Korea, most of them studied under the advisors who have their American connections. They too can do well in Japan if they have a right attitude (or "kokoro"). Look, many Koreans of your grandfather's age went straight to Japan from their farms, and they did well there. If you go to Japan from Korea these days, you are going there with a doctoral degree. Indeed, Japan is a land of opportunity for young Koreans. Please remember this. I am not telling you to become pro-Japanese, and I do not drive Japanese cars.

There are now at least three video copies of the above-mentioned NHK program comparing U-Tokyo with MIT, and it is thus possible to watch this program in Korea. I told some of my American friends with MIT connections that Japan has enough money for U-Tokyo to get ahead of MIT. They all laughed, and told me that this is not a matter money (it is refreshing to hear Americans saying that money is not everything). I then told them that Korean universities are trying to place themselves between MIT and U-Tokyo. They said ``that might work!'' The reaction from these MIT people was in sharp contrast to the reaction I received from one of the top young professors at SNU. Two years ago, I asked him what he thinks about making SNU better than U-Tokyo. His reaction was that I am totally out of common sense, that this is the reason why Koreans want to stay away from me, and that this is also the reason why I never get invited by anyone in Korea. I talked about the Japanese "kokoro" above, but I have to confess that I am more worried about our own kokoro.


Answers by Y.S.Kim (95.3.13)

I have been getting many questions since I started talking about Ben Lee.

Question 1. Koreans in old days appear to have been stronger. Is there any way in which I (younger Korean) can become as strong as those old Koreans?

Answer. Very simple. Try to learn from them. Many of them are still alive and even very talkative like myself.

Question 2. Koreans in general are not as fast as Ben Lee in picking up new materials. Should I (young Korean) attempt to get Nobel Prize?

Answer: You heard the story of turtle and short hare (rabbit). Use the the lesson you learn from this story.

Question 4. What is the precise definition of the Japanese word `kokoro'?

Answer: If you go to Japan, you will be consisting of your "karada" and your "kokoro". Karada means your physiological body. If you subtract karada from you, you are left with kokoro. This seems to be the most accurate definition of kokoro.

Japanese say that healthy karada will lead to healthy kokoro, and vice versa. We can say this too.

Question 5. Before going to Japan, should I learn how to speak Japanese?

Answer: Yes, of course. However, you should learn how to speak English first. I know that Korean students do not want to learn English in the United States, but you should definitely learn English before going to Japan.

Question 5. Why English in Japan?

Answer: I know at least one Korean physicist who speaks only English when he goes to Korea, and he is treated like God at SNU. Likewise, if you speak only English in Japan, you are a superman.

Question 6. I can understand the Korean case. Why is it so in Japan?

Answer: This is Japan's "kokoro" problem. In spite of the fact that they produce better cars than American cars, their inferiority complex persists in their intellectual life. English is just a superior language.

The word "haku" means "via ship", and "rai" means "come". "Hakurai" means "coming from the Western world via ship." Because of this "hakurai" mentality, Japan is still regarded as a lagger by the Western intellectuals.

You will recall my using the word "pearl harbor mentality". This means that Japanese are bad to us not because they committed atrocities against Koreans, but because they attacked Pearl Harbor. I sometimes talk frankly with some of my Japanese friends. When I explain what "pearl harbor mentality" means, they laugh and invite me to shake hands. They say that Japanese and Koreans are the same people (with the same kind of weakness).

Question 7. What did you say in your article which was rejected by KPS in 1978?

Answer: I said we have to get rid of this "hakurai" or "Pearl Harbor" mentality in order to do original work, and I said Koreans are strong enough to do it. At that time (1978), I was aware of Koreans in Central Asia (I know one other Korean who knew this, but I do not know who else knew about those isolated people), and I talked about them in my article. The point is that Stalin moved many other minorities, including Jews, Germans, and Gypsies to Central Asian prairies. However, from nothing, Koreans made something out of nothing while others could not, because Koreans knew how to develop agriculture. If we learn a lesson from this, we can compete effectively with Jewish physicists who are very skillful in getting Nobels. I said many other things, and copies of this article are still available.


Y.S.Kim (1995.3.23)

I just came back after spending four vacation days in Seattle and Vancouver, and had a chance to see the dock facilities in those two Pacific cities. I was naturally pleased to see piles and piles of containers carrying the trademark "Hanjin" or "Hyundai." Those piles indicate how strong we are in the world trade market. The question is then how physics is traded?

Here comes again Y.S.Kim's story about good old days. How did Korea start making ventures in international trade? Perhaps you heard about the period in which high-quality consumer goods in Korea were supplied by the items smuggled out from the U.S. military bases. Indeed, during the period 1945-49, Koreans were very skillful in stealing things from the U.S. military units, often in collaboration with corrupt American officers. While small Koreans were stealing consumer goods, such as cigarettes, radio sets, irons, etc, big characters were stealing trucks, jeeps, and communication equipments. There was once a rumor that Koreans were stealing airplanes from Americans. They then smuggled those big items to China under Chiang Kai-Sek's corrupt government. This is the first page of Korea's trade history.

Our physicists can start with much more favorable conditions than our early commercial traders did. As you know, physicists trade their research products at conferences. Furthermore, those trading activities are advertised through conference posters. Our young physicists complain that they cannot see the trace of Koreans from those posters. Yes, we are starting from nothing, but we have to start.

However, these days, I am happy to circulate announcements for international conferences held in Korea. It is my personal pleasure to say this, because I have sent many many conference posters to Korea since 1982. It is also my pleasure to say that I have been working very closely with Dr. Daesoo Han of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center since 1978. Indeed, I was able to come this far because of the Han-Kim collaboration. When you see posters carrying Wigner's portrait these days, please keep in mind that they came from Dr. Han's office. Dr. Han and I personally stuffed and sealed the envelops flying to Korea. If you wish to have some sample posters, send an email to [han@trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov].


Y.S.Kim (1995.4.1)

Many people tell me that it is a good idea to get ahead of Japan. They also ask me how, and what the quickest way is. If you have answers to these questions, please send me, and I will be very happy to spread your ideas.

In the meantime, here is my answer. While Japanese science planners made Japan a postdoc-importing country, we should transform Korea into a postdoc exporting country like Israel. Then how?

My answer is incredibly simple. Most of the research-oriented faculty members in Korea received their training in the United States, and they enjoyed their fellowship and assistantship supports from their universities and/or the research grants their advisors got from the U.S. government. Indeed, they were paid enough to buy Japanese cars.

If we wish to get ahead of Japan, all we have to do is to pay our graduate students as much as Americans are paying us. Our students in Korea may not be able to buy Japanese cars, but they should be paid enough to buy Korean cars like Hyundai or Daewoo! By the way, what is the Korean-made car most popular to young Koreans these days?

Then, where are we going to get the money to do this? Of course, we cannot achieve this goal in one year, but we should start. The first step is to cut down the waste. We should stop building expensive machines we cannot maintain. We should stop inviting big shots from foreign lands only for the sake of their names. Furthermore, we should clean up the corruption in research fund management.

I become sick whenever I hear my colleagues from Korea saying that they can afford this or that kind of fun because of the financial flexibility coming from their research funds. When I express my displeasure, they say that they are only small thieves and they do not feel guilty at all. They say further that we are not likely to clean up the mess unless we get rid of big bandits. When I ask whether the funding agencies can police the recipients, they say that the agencies are hopelessly corrupt.

Remember this however. Our graduate students know how money flows, and they are watching. For professors, the loss of respect from students is like a death sentence. This is yet another important role our students can play.


Y.S.Kim (1995.4.4)

I have been getting many reactions to the stories I wrote about Japan. It appears to me that our worst problem in dealing with that country is our inferiority complex. Indeed, the inferiority complex is almost an incurable disease. If you read my past articles, I was a superperformer when I was in high school. For this reason, I have many high-school friends even in physics who have complexes toward me. They still behave like beasts to me, while they do not have to. Certainly, we should not look like animals to Japanese, because we do not have to. Indeed, some Korean make out all right in dealing with our neighbors.

In one of my earlier articles, I mentioned Yukawa Hideki, Misora Hibari, and Suwa Nejiko as three Japanese man and women who lifted up the spirit of Japanese after their defeat in the Pacific War. Whenever I mention Suwa Nejiko to my Japanese friends, they mention Chung Kyung Wha and say that Korean vilonists are among the best in the world.

Today, I would like to talk about Misora Hibari. As you know, the Karaoke culture was originated in Japan, and this clearly indicates Japanese are song-loving people like us. Around 1948, there appeared two top stars in the Japanese song world. One of them was Fudaba Akiko, and the other was Misora Hibari. Akiko was like our Patti Kim, and Hibari was like our Yee Miza. I personally liked Akiko, and she is still alive. Hibari died in 1988, but she was and still is much more popular in Japan, presumably because Hibari was singing the traditional Japanese emotion.

Like us, Japanese TV stations have song festivals during the first or last week of every new year, and one or two of Hibari's songs were reproduced by respected Japanese singers. In 1994, in NHK's Year-End festival, a Korean singer named "Kimu.Yon.Jia" = Kim Yyeonja had the honor of singing Hibari's "Kawa-no Nagare-no Yoni" = as river flows. This title is indeed "the song of Japan" loved by every Japanese from their Empress to high- school kids. This is a very graceful song, and Kim Yeonja sang it in an absolutely graceful manner, perhaps as graceful as Aida singing "O! Patrio Mio" = "Oh! my fatherland" in Verdi's opera. Misora Hibari can now be best reporduced by a Korean singer. Kim Yeonja could not have reached this stage if she had a complex toward Japanese.


Y.S.Kim (1995.4.8)

Quite naturally, many Korean postdoc candidates like to know how they could get JSPS fellowships. They are asking me to give more detailed information. Unfortunately, all I can give at this time is a list of research institutions in Japan. You may obtain this list by sending an email to , with FOROP.KOR, or JAPAN.KOR. In either case, you will receive two files, and one of them will contain this list.

It is my understanding that fellowship applications are to be submitted by the hosting institutions. Thus, your first step should be to impress your prospective employer in Japan. How do you then impress them? Basically, Japanese want new ideas from the United States. As I said before, Americans do not want to go to Japan. Study this aspect carefully before writing your letters to Japan. If you are confident enough, you may request your prospective boss to apply for a JSPS fellowship for you.

Remember this. It is not your life-time goal to become a messenger boy/girl between Japan and the United States. There is a more fundamental issue. In spite of all those uneasy feelings, Japanese are very close to us. Their "kokoro" is basically the same as ours. This is why our vocal artists are doing so well in Japan. You will not be surprised to hear that some of their songs make us very happy.

When I was in Rome (Italy) last year, I spent one evening in a restaurant called "Sabbatini" which is a rather famous place. I was alone sitting at a small table next to a group of about 20 Japanese business men and their wives vacationing in Europe. They seem to be as old as I am. After the dinner, they started singing. They were singing the title "Miyo Hiroo-no Umi" which was very popular among Korean boys and girls in 1945. I did not know that this Japanese song, which praises day-time sea, was also popular among Japanese.

If you have read the robot file NORTH.KOR, it is not difficult to guess where I spent the first eleven years of my life. I used to swim at the beautiful Sorae-Kumipo beach. This song describes exactly the place where I became a human being, and I used to regard it my home-town anthem. I also started singing. Indeed, this established a sing-together relation between those Japanese business people and myself. In physics, we use the word "resonance" to describe this sing-together relation.

There are many different kinds of people on this earth, but Japanese possess many more frequencies than any other people with which we can resonate. You may wish to compete with them, cooperate with them, or declare war against them. It is totally up to you. In either case, the resonance is the key to your success. Here again, I should not preach what I cannot practice. The following is an excerpt from my article to be published in the proceedings of the 1994 meeting of the Symposium on Symmetries in Science. The bi-annual meetings of this symposium series take place in Bregenz (Austria) in the heart of the Austrian Alps and are attended by many Japanese. At the 1994 meeting, I was in effect talking to Japanese physicists. If you wish to have a full version of the article, you my contact me.


Y. S. Kim
Department of Physics, University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland 20742, U.S.A.

Unlike classical physics, modern physics depends heavily on observer's state of mind or environment. Quantum mechanics depends on how we measure physical quantities, and this issue has not yet been completely settled. In relativity, observers in different Lorentz frames see the same physical system differently. The importance of the observer's subjective viewpoint was emphasized by Immanuel Kant in his book entitled {\it Kritik der reinen Vernunft} whose first and second editions were published in 1781 and 1787 respectively. However, using his own logic, he ended up with a conclusion that there must be an absolute inertial frame, and that we only see the frames dictated by our subjectivity.

Einstein's special relativity was developed along Kant's line of thinking: things depend on the frame from which you make observations. However, there is one big difference. Instead of the absolute frame, Einstein introduced an extra dimension. Let us illustrate this using a CocaCola can. It appears like a circle if you look at it from the top, while it appears as a rectangle from the side. The real thing is a three-dimensional circular cylinder.

I was fortunate enough to be close to Eugene Wigner, and enjoyed the privilege of asking him many questions. I was of course able to do this because I read carefully many of his papers and wrote two books on the research lines initiated by him. I once asked him whether he thinks like Immanuel Kant. He said Yes. I then asked him whether Einstein was a Kantianist in his opinion. Wigner said very firmly Yes. I then asked him whether he studied the philosophy of Kant while he was in college. He said No, and said that he realized he had been a Kantianist after writing so many papers in physics. He added that philosophers do not dictate people how to think, but their job is to describe systematically how people think. Wigner told me that I was the only one who asked him this question, and asked me how I knew the Kantian way of reasoning was working in his mind. I gave him the following answer.

I never had any formal education in oriental philosophy, but I know that my frame of thinking is affected by my Korean background. One important aspect is that Immanuel Kant's name is known to every high-school graduate in Korea, while he is unknown to Americans, particularly to American physicists. The question then is whether there is in oriental culture a ``natural frequency'' which can resonate with one of the frequencies radiated from Kantianism developed in Europe.

I would like to answer this question in the following way. Koreans absorbed a bulk of Chinese culture during the period of the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). At that time, China was the center of the world as the United States is today. This dynasty's intellectual life was based on Taoism which tells us, among others, that everything in this universe has to be balanced between its plus (or bright) side and its minus (or dark) side. This way of thinking forces us to look at things from two different or opposite directions. This aspect of Taoism could constitute a ``natural frequency'' which can be tuned to the Kantian view of the world where things depend how they are observed.

I would like to point out that Hideki Yukawa was quite fond of Taoism and studied systematically the books of Laotse and Chuangtse who were the founding fathers of Taoism \cite{tani79}. Both Laotse and Chuangtse lived before the time of Confucius. It is interesting to note that Kantianism is also popular is Japan, and it is my assumption that Kant's books were translated into Japanese by Japanese philosophers first, and Koreans of my father's age learned about Kant by reading the translated versions.

My publication record will indicate that I studied Yukawa's papers before becoming seriously interested in Wignerism. Indeed, I picked up a signal of possible connection between Kantianism and Taoism while reading Yukawa's papers carefully, and this led to my bold venture to ask Wigner whether he is a Kantianist.

Since I have made a confession about my intellectual background, I can explain to you how I do my physics. When I look for problems in physics, I always look for a gap between two observations of the same event. Let us look at the energy-momentum relation. If a particle is very slow, its energy-momentum relation is $E = p^{2}/2m$, while it is $E = cp$ for massless particles or those moving with speed close to that of light. I was very unhappy about this until I learned that Einstein's mass-energy settles this question. The first row of Fig. 1 illustrates this point.

I told Wigner further that, when I was a graduate student, I was not completely happy with his 1939 paper on the representations of the Poincar\'e group because the massive and massless particles have different little groups which dictate their internal space-time symmetries \cite{wig39}. Wigner told me that he was trying to do something about this, and this is why he started writing papers with E. Inonu on group contractions \cite{inonu53}. Indeed, this problem has been solved and is summarized in Fig. 1.

There is another problem which makes physicists unhappy. These days, hadrons are regarded as bound states of quarks. This model works well when they move slowly or are at rest. However, when they move with speed close to that of light, they appear as a collection of infinite-number of partons. This picture was formulated by Feynman, and is called Feynman's parton model \cite{fey69}. The problem is that the same physical object looks quite differently to observers in the two different Lorentz frames. If we settle this quarrel between these two observers, we will build a ``new house'' as is indicated in Fig. 1.

In order to solve this problem, we need wave a set of functions which can be Lorentz boosted. How can we then construct such a set? In constructing wave functions for any purpose in quantum mechanics, the standard procedure is to try first harmonic oscillator wave functions. In studying the Lorentz boost, the standard language is the Lorentz group. Thus the first step to construct covariant wave functions is to work out representations of the Lorentz group using harmonic oscillators \cite{dir45,yuka53,knp86}

With the wave function which can be Lorentz boosted, we resolve the mentioned quark-parton puzzle. In Sec. 2, we review Wigner's little groups of the Poincar\'e group. In Sec. 3, it is pointed out that the formalism of covariant harmonic oscillators is a representation of the $O(3)$-like little group for massive particles. In this formalism, harmonic oscillator wave functions become squeezed under the Lorentz boost. In Sec. 4, it is shown that the squeeze transformation leads to Feynman's parton picture of hadrons.


Y.S.Kim (1995.4.12)

I received numerous comments on Japan from many different people. When I asked them whether I should circulate their writings, they all said No, except the Dr. Deok Kyo Lee from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. You will enjoy reading Dr. Lee's letter. YSK

Dear Prof. Kim:

Thank you very much for sending me many interesting comments.

I read your article about how to get ahead of Japan. Here is what I consider more important than anything else. I feel as long as Korea is divided and each side is wasting so much money on defense, blaming the other side, it would be very difficult to get even close to Japan. I hope politicians would wake up and do good works for the country and Korean people on both North and South, for eventual reunification.

Deok Kyo Lee, Oak Ridge, TN
u24520@f.nersc.gov" 6-APR-1995


Like me, Dr. Lee came from the North after the division of the country. Folks from northern provinces have a tendency to tell everything they have in mind. As you know, I often embarrass people, particularly those in high places, by saying things they do not want to hear.

Since 1953, after the present cease-fire line was drawn, a number of Koreans defected from the North to the South. One of those who came in 1957 met my relatives in the North before coming down, and heard what they were talking about me. According to my relatives who never heard about me since 1950, I went to the United States from Korea, and made No. 2 at Washington Democratic University. In reality, I was the No. 1, but Americans had to give the No. 1 position to an American boy.

This theory is a post-1945 version of what was expected from every promising Korean boy. Before 1945, Koreans had to send their smartest son or grandson to Tokyo Imperial University (which became Washington Democratic Unv. after 1945), and he is supposed to make No. 2 there, because this is the highest honor Japanese authorities can give to Koreans.

This No. 2 complex is a unwarranted persecution complex. The Univ. of Pennsylvania is as good as Washington Democratic University. If you visit their physics department, you will see a brass plate on one of the walls engraved with the names of those who scored No. 1 in PhD qualifying exams. There are embarrassingly many Korean names.

I would be lying if I say Japanese never discriminated Koreans. But, in my opinion, the extent of discrimination has been too much exaggerated. General Chae Byung-duk was the Army Chief of Staff at the time of 6.25. He went to the Japanese military academy and made No. 1 there. He even received the Emperor's prize at the graduation ceremony. However, Chae Byung-duk was a lousy Japanese soldier because he spoke Korean when he was talking to his fellow Korean officers in the Japanese army, and he was in contact with the Korean nationalists who were interested in obtaining weapons from the Japanese arsenal he was in charge of.

I saw General Chae for the last time when I was walking from Seoul to Suwon on June 29 (1950) [Please note the date. This was not a picnic trip]. He was on one of the jeeps running from Suwon to the Hangang defense line. He looked tired and exhausted, but did his best to show a dignified face as the Chief of Staff to the cheering crowd. He died in action one month later. He was hit by a bullet from a Soviet-made Mosin-Nagant rifle fired by a Korean boy on the other side. I heard one of his friends saying that he could have lived longer if the Japanese authorities had discriminated him and had given the Emperor's prize to a Japanese boy.

I often say that we should stop saying "No. 1 in Korea," and I then add that we should worry about No. 1 in the world. Those "No. 1" gentlemen from the Univ. of Pennsylvania will agree with me on the point that the "No. 1 in the world" is also an outdated concept because this basically isolate yourself from the rest of the world. As I said before, we are now in the age of "resonance," and the person who knows how to resonate will get ahead of the No. 1 man/woman. I have been building resonance relations with many people for sometime, particularly with young Koreans. I hope to be able to talk more about this exciting subject in my future articles.


Y.S.Kim (1995.4.15)

The Washington Post is one of the most influential newspapers in the United States. Today's Post carries an editorial about whether the United States has to apologize for the Hiroshima bombing, and conclude with the following paragraph.

"--- But trading tit-for-tat accusations about the war is a not useful exercise. It is better simply to remember that Japan since 1945 has earned the trust and respect of this country as an ally and a democracy that upholds the rights of its own people and its neighbors. The memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will remain embedded in history of both Japan and the United States, where its stands as a terrible warning of the costs of war."

In the same issue, there was a quotation from the Associated Press saying that Ishihara Shintaro resigned from the Japanese parliament because he became disgusted with the Japanese politics. Who is Ishihara Shintaro? He co-authored the book entitled "The Japan that can say No" (1989) with Morita Akio (former Chairman of the mighty SONY group). In his resignation statement, he said "Japan seemed like a `castrated country' and was failing to express itself clearly at a time when it should take leadership in Asia as American and European influence declines." He then accused his fellow politicians of being inept.

These paragraphs clearly indicate that the Japan-U.S. relation is going to be somewhat different in the future. We are also beginning to be self- assertive and we should, but our asset is that we have many people who studied in the U.S. In spite of all the troubles, the United States is likely to remain as the leader in scientific research.

At this point, I would like to mention one area where we may already be ahead of Japan. In the United States, there are now many postdoc fellows from Korea. I would venture to say that those "made-in-Korea" PhDs are doing better than postdocs from Japan, and this trend will continue until the difference becomes big enough for everybody to see. If my prediction turns out to be true, it should not surprise anyone. Our made-in-Korea postdocs have been trained by the advisors who understand the U.S. system of research.

I have been paying a special attention to this new group of physicists since 1988, and I think I now have enough statistics to make the following assertions. First of all, their English is excellent. Perhaps our students are right: the United States is not a good place to learn English. They know clearly where they stand in the physics world. This is in sharp contrast to our students studying in the United States. For instance, some of our students do not understand why they are not allowed to go to faculty meetings which I generally attend. I can list more.

I once said Korea should become a postdoc-exporting country while talking about Japan. However, our ultimate export market is the United States. The made-in-Korea postdocs have already established a firm beach-head in the U.S. scientific community. Our next step is to build a strong system for this new export industry. As you know, the United States is running out of research money. Even, the highly respected IBM laboratories demand partial supports from their home country or institution when they make postdocs appointments. In general, our postdocs get partial supports from the Korean government when they come to the Untied States. We should strengthen the programs along this direction.


Y.S.Kim (1995.4.25)

I am getting these days many letters which I would very much like to circulate. But, the authors are telling me not to. Recently, one of my young friends said in his letter that a country's strength should not be judged by cars, but by its "philosophy." His comment is quite consistent with the Japanese saying that it is 100 times or 1,000 times more difficult to make "kokoro" than making cars. His comment is also consistent with my belief, and I have many things to say along this line.

This morning, I had a chat with one of my Japanese friends, and he seems to know about Korea. On my blackboard, he wrote 1392 from his memory as the year Yi dynasty started. He also wrote 1443 as the year the Hangul characters were promulgated, and he also wrote on the board "Un-moon" in Chinese characters. Frankly, I could not do these even though I often bragg about my memory power. He even said that the Mongolian army could not cross the Korean strait because they were on Korean-made ships which were too weak to withstand Taiphoon. He then asked me whether Koreans intentionally built those inferior-quality ships to destroy the Mongolian army.

I told him that those Korean ships had to be inferior because Korea's best wood-crafters had to work on a more important project. They were carving 80,000 wooden plates for the 80,000-page scripture on Buddhism. I often say that this 80,000-page scripture is like Henryk Sienkiewicz's "Quo Vadis." For writing this novel, Poland's Sienkiewicz got the 1905 Nobel prize in literature. We carved 80,000 wooden plates in order to protect our own "philisophy," and Sienkiwwicz wrote Quo Vadis in order to guard Poland's "philosophy." Japan's Kawabata Yasunari killed himself because he could not find Japan's own "philosophy," but he did enough work to receive the 1968 Nobel prize in literature while he was alive.

I explained why this Sienkiewicz case is important in constructing our own Nobel culture in my 1978 article which was rejected by one of the KPS journals. I hope there will be an occasion for me to discuss this issue in more detail in the future.



Dear Prof. Kim:

How are you? I have been reading your articles and I have found many of them are quite valuable and useful for me. I, first of all, appreciate it. Thanks. I got another letter from you in this morning and I felt like commenting on it. You quoted one of other Korean fellows reading "A country's strength should not be judged by cars, but by its "philosophy,"" and said it is consistent with your own belief.

I, however, would claim that a country's strength should be judged by both of the philosophy and cars. If you and he meant to put a little more weight on the side of the "philosophy" and meant to encourage us to work together to build and to develop it, I perfectly agree with you and you may forget all the following parts of this letter. If you and he meant to ignore (in any sense) "cars" as a measurement of a country's strength, I want to comment on it because I'm so tired of hearing that kind of argument. I'm sure that we cannot argue in that way unless we do not make any "good cars". We only can claim that "philosophy (or whatever)" should be the real standard for measuring one's strength after we show our ability in other respects to the world. Then, the world community would agree with us. If not, they would think that we claim such and such, just because we never make a good "car". Also, in practical sense, "good cars" are directly related to our daily life and must be important. If we "ignore" this factor, we ourselves are repeating the mistakes our old "Seon-Bee" did a few hundred years ago.

One could argue against me saying "Ones (who make "good cars") themselves agree on the philosophy-standard argument, so you shut up". But that is not acceptable. Those good-car people say so because they already achieved to some extent and felt kind of limit in itself. I mean their pursuit for the "philosophy" is completely "relative" one. We are in different situation. We have to think sitting in our own position. We can't compare our situation with theirs "lineally". We need so-called "normalization" (all of us are familiar with this term). This is why (I think) we still have to work so hard especially as young scientists. Finishing this letter, I want to ask one thing. If we like to insist the philosophy as the most important ruler for a country's strength, do we really have the "philosophy" of our own? My own answer is "we had but we don't have one now".

So I think the strength of a country must be judged by both of the philosophy AND "good cars" and we have to work together to build BOTH of them.


Sangwook Park
Purdue University


Y.S.Kim (1995.5.2)

Unlike us, my grandfather did not learn about Japan from TV screens, but, he, like most of your great grandfathers, was beaten by Japanese police on several different occasions. His solution to the problem was to send his grandson to Tokyo Imperial University. In 1944, when I was all excited about going to Tokyo (presumably ten years later - I came to the U.S. in 1954), my maternal grandmother invited me to her room and showed me a picture of Franklin D. Roosevelt (the U.S. president at that time). She told me that Japan is not my country, and that "this man" (Roosevelt) would be the ruler of Korea within one year. She told me that I might have to go to America to study. My grandparents were born before the Sino-Japanese War (1895). Korea's own wisdom: knowledge = power (as trivial as Einstein's energy = mass).

One week later, grandma invited me again, and told me the story of Moses. She said Moses was not educated by his own people, yet he was able to lead his people out of the Egyptian bondage.

There was a good reason why my grandmother had to tell me about Moses. Japanese authorities allowed Koreans to go to churches, and allowed the churches to run summer Bible classes under one condition: the Book of Exodus be never discussed in any of church activities. The authorities most certainly did not want Koreans to pick up the concept of "leadership." Another good evidence is that until 1975, SNU's colleges were at different places. The Japanese rulers did not want Korean college students to get together, but encouraged them to quarrel over useless issues. We still do, unfortunately.

Let us go back to the Moses issue. One day, Moses walks along the Nile beach and sees an Egyptian mercilessly beating a Hebrew slave. Moses intervenes, and kills the Egyptian and buries him in a sand grave. Moses then tells the slave that he killed the Egyptian because he himself is a Hebrew. He tells the slave not to tell anyone about this incident and live happily. Guess where the slave's first stop was. The Egyptian police station reporting the murder incident.

Ever since I came to the U.S., I have been doing this and that which in my opinion would help my fellow Koreans. I witnessed too many times my fellow Korean behaving like the Hebrew slave. For instance, one of my Korean friends told my senior colleague at the Univ. of Maryland about my using the UMD computer facilities for Korean affairs, and asked him to stop my activities. I can list many more cases like this.

I once complained about this to one of the most distinguished physicists in Korea. He told me that I am very stupid in thinking that I am like Moses, and that he has never been as stupid as I am. What he did not know was that he himself belongs to the Moses class. Indeed, my grandma (representing humble Koreans) also wants him to be like Moses (He studied at one of the most respected universities in the United States). The Japanese authorities wanted to make all Korean intellectuals like him. This is Korea's anti-Wisdom: Moses thinking like a slave.

Remember this. If you receive this mail, you belong to Korea's Moses class. You should think like Moses, not like the Hebrew slave.


Y.S.Kim (1995.5.3)

These days, Pohang is known as the place for Korea's MIT, but not many people know that Pohang was the place for one of the bitterest battles of the 6.25 conflict. There was a wrestling game between Soviet-built T-34 tanks and U.S.-built Sherman tanks.

In 1993, the commander of the Korean army unit who fought there was on one of the KBS TV programs. He said that, when he went there, his regiment replaced an obscure group of troops who had only vintage Japanese rifles, and said that he still does not know to which army division those hopeless troops belonged. I know about them. That hopeless unit was withdrawn to Cheju Island, and was beefed up to a regimental size. This unit joined the First U.S. Marine Division to land on the Inchon beach on September 15, 1950. General MacArthur then personally decided that this unit be the first unit to enter Seoul. You should now be able to identify this unit: the Korean Marine Corps (KMC).

Before the 6.25, KMC was organized as a battalion-sized landing force of the Korean Navy, and there were no U.S. military advisors assigned to this unit. It was created purely from the Korean initiative and with our own discipline. Although poorly equipped, the Marines showed an unusual valor and impressive battle skills during the early stage of the war. That is why they were picked up by Gen. Mac.

MacArthur is a controversial figure, but nobody can deny that he had his own style of commanding troops. Here comes the question of leadership. There are at least two statues of this general. One is in Inchon, and the other is on the campus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The point is that Mac has two completely different faces. According to the Inchon statute, he was an scary and overwhelming character. On the other hand, his West Point statue shows a very kind and gentle face, like a church minister. He does not look like a military man at all.

Indeed, MacArthur had two different personalities. He is widely known as an ego-centric and uncompromising person. However, to his own troops, he was a candy-buying uncle. He was particularly interested in fresh troops, and he amply demonstrated this personality even to Korean troops while he was commanding them in 1950. This is one of the reasons why he gave KMC the honor of being the first unit to enter Seoul after the Inchon landing.

Many people argue against what I say these days. Some say that I am crazy in saying that our Korean-made PhDs should play the central role in getting ahead of Japan. Perhaps I am as crazy as General Mac who let KMC to enter Seoul first in September (1950).


Y.S.Kim (1995.5.8)

I am known to have a number of strange habits. One of them is to attend alumni association meetings to which I do not belong. This is not a strange custom in the U.S., and the Harvard alumni meetings are attended by many non-Harvard people.

Last year, I attended a Harvard alumni meeting held in Baltimore, and one of the speakers was the Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. The title of his talk was also impressive: The role of the United States in the post-Coldwar era. One half of his speech was predictable. The U.S. still has an overwhelming military power, but it is not effective because the Soviet Union no longer poses any military threats. Much of the economic and technological superiority which the U.S. used to enjoy has been eroded, and the present U.S. share of the economic influence is about the same as that of the pre-WW2 era.

The Dean pointed out however that there are still areas where the U.S. holds the absolute superiority. One is its agricultural productivity which can force other nations to accept the Uruguay Round. The other is the show business centered around Hollywood. In other words, he was saying that Americans can still make money by selling junk movies to the world.

I was really disappointed. However, I became more disappointed by what I did not hear from him. He failed to mention the great universities (including his own) the United States has. Just before writing this article I had a dinner with a young Japanese physicist from Kyoto. He agreed with me on the point that, if properly managed, the U.S. universities can educate the entire world for many many years to come. We also agreed that the Harvard Dean could have said this as America's greatest asset if he had been properly raised in a Japanese or Korean family.

Robert McNamara is a distinguished Harvard man and was the Secretary of Defense 30 years ago. His understanding of his own country and the rest of the world was about the same as that of the above-mentioned Harvard dean when he poured U.S. troops into Vietnam, as he confesses in his recent book about America's Vietnam War. It is indeed very difficult even for the United States to find healthy leaders.

The United States is not the only country with leadership problems. You should know which country I am talking about. I am not in a position to talk about the future of Korea as a nation, although this is a very important subject. However, I think I know enough about our physicists to discuss the leadership crisis in the Korean physics community. After I sent out my articles about Moses and MacArthur, I received a number of comments. It seems extremely difficult for Koreans to grasp the concept of "leadership" as one of the variables, partly because we do not have this word in our own language. We have to cultivate this leadership culture among our young physicists if we are to have a healthy and prosperous physics community.


Dear Prof. Kim,

In one of your recent articles, you talked of the leadership vacuum in both U.S., Korea, and also Korean physics community. I'm nowhere knowledgeable about Korea and its culture as you are, having left Korea at an age of 11, but your discussion on leadership reminded me of what my father used to tell me. In Confucianism, there is a saying:

"soo shin, jae ga, chi gook, pyung chun ha."

I think that's as close as what the "leadership" may be in Korean. There are too many leaders out there trying to save the world without saving (or controlling) themselves first. I would say Bill Clinton would be an example of such a leader who is failing inspite of his intention and brilliance. (Of course, there are others who are much worse in both intention and brilliance). As for me, I want to do some good physics for the time being (and also "soo shin"), and worry about saving the world ("pyung chun ha") later, if and when I can.


Woowon Kang

Note: Prof. Woowon Kang joined the faculty of the Univ. of Chicago in December (1994). In 1990, when he was a graduate student at Princeton University, he told Y.S.Kim to use the email communication system to manage the directory of Korean physicists in the United States. From 1977 to 1990, Y.S.Kim used Snail Mail (sometimes called the U.S.Mail) to circulate the address list. Prof. Kang came to the United States with his parents when he was 11 years old. He did his undergraduate study at UCLA. After his PhD from Princeton, Prof. Kang spent his postdoctoral years at AT&T Bell Labs.


Y.S.Kim (1995.5.21)

You will remember reading Prof. Woowon Kang's letter on leadership and Confucianism. His letter sends powerful messages to both old and young Korean physicists.

  1. It is natural for a grown-up physicist to work hard to increase his/her sphere of influence. However, some elderly Korean physicists think they can influence their younger colleagues by playing gamtu games. They are totally wrong. Our young people are extremely stingy in giving any recognition whatsoever to their senior colleagues. Even now, it is not uncommon for them to tell me that I am a liar if I say I did my graduate work at Princeton. Their explanation is that nobody in my age was smart enough to go to Princeton. Thus, it is suicidal to put up gamtu shows at gatherings of Korean physicists. Remember this. Your "physics politics" cannot be greater than your own scientific achievement.
  2. Prof. Kang's letter is sending a very powerful message also to young physicists. I know they do not want to become like me, but Prof. Kang is indeed an exemplary young physicist from the world-wide point of view, and everybody should try to become like him. Even though he came to the U.S. when he was very young, he still makes judgments based on the Confucian ethics which he inherited from his father. I hear complaints and complaints from our young people that they could not swim in the world because of the Confucian influence they received from the older generation. Their claim is 100% wrong for the following reasons.

    a). Let us assume that Confucianism is bad. Then you will do everything to get rid of this outmoded ethics. However, until you pick up your "modern" ethics, you will be completely without any ethics: you will be like an animal. Most of Korean students never pick up Western ethics.

    b). I have been in the United States for more than 40 years and I think I am doing all right, and I think I am in a position to say something about Western ethics and Western values. I can say with 100% confidence that the basic principles of the Western ethics are the same as those of Confucianism. The difference is like the difference between IBM PCs and MacIntosh machines. It is much easier to convert IMB-style PCs to MacIntosh than converting typewriters into MacIntosh. If you have an IBM, you do not have to convert it to a typewriter. Convert it directly to MacIntosh. It is much easier!


Y.S.Kim (1995.5.9)

Many of you watched the TV Drama series entitled "Kareisky" aired recently by one of the Korean TV stations, and some of you asked me whether the drama is close to the truth.

Yes, I have been interested in Koreans forced to move to Central Asia since I heard about their existence from Dr. Paul K. Chang (his Korean name is Chang Keuk) in 1970. At that time, Dr. Chang was a professor of mechanical engineering at Catholic University, and was one of a small number of privileged scientists who were able to make trips to the Soviet Union.

As soon as I heard about those Koreans, I was able to compose their story. Land development, agriculture, children's education, and then desire to excel. I will eventually talk about a young Korean physicist from Kazakhstan who is now in St. Petersburg Institute. I met him in 1990 when I was visiting the Joint Inst. for Nuclear Research about 100 km north of Moscow. He comes to Fermi Lab. quite often. However, today, I would like to talk about one of the our hidden talents which I was not able to comprehend in 1970.

In the TV drama Kareisky, you probably have seen one of the main characters running an illegal money lending business, who eventually loses all the money she earned because another Korean woman reports her activity to the authority. When I visited Minsk (Belarus) last year, I met a young Kareisky from Tashkent engaged in a financial business. He was very busy in making financial arrangements for apartment buildings for Russian soldiers coming back from Germany. When I asked him why the Russian Army is not using the Russian banking system, he said Russian banks cannot do what he does. He tried to explain to me how he is conducting his business, but I could not completely understand what he was saying. However, he sounded very much like many of our "informal" financiers in Korea, New York, and Los Angeles.

As you all know, Korea's industry was not built from Korea's banking system. It was built through "informal" money flow controlled largely by "keun-son" (big hand) financiers. I am not an expert on this business, but it is clear from the Kareisky I met in Minsk that we have own wisdom in circulating money. Perhaps, it may be impossible to document our talent along this direction in terms of the language developed for the Western-style banking system. We may have many other talents which we are not able to comprehend at the present time.


Dear Prof. Kim:

Thank you for your letter. You will recall our pleasant meeting at the 1990 Moscow Conference on Group Theory. You are quite right! Koreans have many talents. I did not watch the TV drama "Koreisky" because there is no international TV transmission in Tashkent. But I know that at present time some of Soviet Koreans are engaged in businesses connected with informal money operations. Many Koreans here are doing commercial businesses, and they do much better than than those in the agrarian base. Such a reorientation to commercial structure reflects social changes in our society. Even some of my Korean friends have left their scientific work and passed to commercial ventures to provide their families with food and daily items. Of course, these economic difficulties are temporary, although our life is temporary too. I think the talents we have in this part of the world are derived from the deep-rooted Korean history.

Sincerely yours,

Dmitriy Pak

  1. Pak, Dmitri G.
  2. pakdg@iaph.silk.glas.apc.org
  3. (3712) 461-573 (office), (3712) 583-164 (home)
  4. Dept. of Theor.Physics, Institute of Applied Physics, Tashkent State Univ., Vuzgorodok, Uzbekistan, 700095
  5. Ph.D degree: Univ.of Tashkent, 1989
  6. Prof. Ogievetsky V.I., Prof. Zupnik B.M.
  7. Theorist; Supergravity, Chern-Simons theory, Quantum Groups, Non-commutative geometry, Quantum Gravity.


Y.S.Kim (1995.5.23)

I would like to introduce a young Kareisky physicist who now works at the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute. His name is Victor Kim, and is a grandson of the first Koreans who were forced to move to Alma Ata (Kazakhstan) whom we watched through the TV drama "Kareisky." Tonight, I would like to talk about a grandson of education-crazy Koreans.

I met Dr. Kim in 1990 when I visited Russia's Joint Inst. for Nuclear Research at Dubna. I saw him again in 1991 when I was attending the Sakharov Memorial Conference in Moscow. In 1994, we spent time together in Minsk (Belarus) while I was attending the Quantum Systems Workshop. Dr. Kim married a beautiful girl from Minsk. His father-in-law is a very conservative hardworking Russian. Our prejudice is that everybody in Russia is poor. Not true! He has a summer house which he built in the suburb of Minsk. He has expensive china and kitchen wares. First of all, Dr. Kim's in-laws have a very very rich mind ("kokoro' if we borrow a Japanese word).

Dr. Kim comes to the United States quite often as a representative of his high-energy research group. You really have to be the No. 1 man in Russia to make trips to the U.S. as often as Dr. Kim does. He writes me from time to time, and I have his permission to broadcast portions of his letters which are not personal. You are invited to read his letters. The point is that Dr. Kim's obsession to become the No. 1 is as strong as ours. Then what is the difference?

Several week's ago, you read a letter from Mr. Sangwook Park of Purdue University. He argues that a country cannot exist with its philosophy alone. It should also produce cars. True! However, I chide my young friends rather frequently by saying that I came from a country which could not produce cars, while they came from a car-producing country. I insist that physicists from car-producing countries should be stronger than those from countries that cannot produce cars.

In 1991, Dr. Victor Kim showed me his passport which he always has to carry in Moscow. His passport clearly specifies that he is a Korean even though he was born and raised in the Soviet Union. He definitely came from the Kareisky region which cannot produce cars, and he had to overcome many hurdles before reaching this stage.

I am not saying cars are useless for doing physics, but I am saying that physicists from car-producing countries should be better. By the way, Dr. Victor Kim is eager to visit Korea. You are now ready to read letters.


Dear Prof. Kim,

I always read your email broadcasting news with great interest. For me there many reasons why it's so interesting to me, even though I don't bother you often by my responses, as I could, to express my feelings, thoughts and reaction on your existing messages.

----- Personal messages deleted ---------

By the way, I am going to the US again to attend the symposium, meeting and workshop in Ames, Iowa (I got a message that I got funds from Soros for this trip.) in May 17-26. So, I hope to find in the library paper by B.Lee from Rev.Mod.Phys. since it lacks in out Institute library. At the Iowa meeting, I will present our work (with my friend from Moscow) about QCD BFKL (Balitsky-Fadin-Kuraev-Lipatov) Pomeron.

Please take my best regards,

Victor Kim (1995.4.21)


Dear Prof. Kim,

Nice to hear from you.

I probably didn't receive your mail about the TV drama on Koreans in the Soviet Union. It maybe because I asked you not to send me often emails when we had resrictions with email. (Also my not good English!). Personally for me, I don't have restrictions from last Fall with email (some peopel still have the restrictions by old modems or economical reasons, or both).

I suppose this title should be in Russian like 'Koreisky', that means Korean as adjective for peole or things with Korean origin. Or 'Koreets' ('Koreyanka'as for Korean (wo)man) as I have in my domestic passport in line with nationality.

As to Leningard, actually that city was may be central in SU for minorities, like jews, korean and german. I think it's main minorities (who was suppressed both semioficially and nonofficially). So, they had much more chances in Leningrad and Novosibirsk to entire to good Institutes and Universities than in Moscow. Moscow was (is) major center for everything in (F)SU (politics, economics, science and culture).

Only Leningrad could comete sometimes with Moscow. That city was more tolerant to minorities. Many famous jewish people was living in Leningrad. Among Koreans at Leningrad I can tell for example extrafamuos in (F)SU rock singer Victor Tsoi, who died in 91. Also there is solo dancer Valery Kim at Kirov Ballet. Rudy Hwa (Oregon) was impressed by his dancing in 1990, when he visited Leningrad. Prof. Hwa knows Ballet well, also his adopted daughter was also ballet dancer. (By the way, she has Korean origin).

So, I tried to be not 'No.1' among Soviet Korean physicists, so I went to Moscow. Moscow was much more prestigious but much more difficult. I was lucky, but not alone. Remember we saw Prof. Pak (graduated from Moscow State Univ.) and young mathematician from Moscow State Univ. By the way Moscow Univ. Mathematics Dept. is highest in (F)SU. Unlike SU mathematics, for physicis there was three major places (all of them in Moscow). So, graduated from one of them. However I knew and saw sometimes, one or two Korean people in my Institute. I estimate number of Korean students in major physicics (educational) Institutes like 0.01-0.03 percent (one Korean per three - ten hundreds students). Not a lot, but in SU physics was not accessible a lot for minorities, because of securuty. There was special limits for minoriries which I mentioned above.

I was not No.1 student by exams (we had only oral exams, and written tests). But in olimpiads by physics among first year students I got No 5. among overall departments (about one thousand people) and No2. among our part of physical department (about 120 students). It was big success for me, after that our professors and assitant of general physics course was treating me well. In third year I was No.3 in mathematical olimpiad among overall third-year students. I didn't attend many olimpiads may be 5. I was awarded in 3 of them.

Actually I was not brillinat student like we had sometimes in our physycal faculty, but not last one. I'm talking about it not because I'm unmodest, but because I completely agree with your device "Try to be No.1. overall the World", not only in your native countryside. Otherwise, it will be provincial mind which allow to get only small success. If you will think about only small unimportant things, you can get not more than that things.

As to me, I understand that I can't be great scientist, but I'm trying to be one of the best experts in my own specific field (of course, 'best' not only in my native countryside).

In your email notes I take a lot of enthusiasm. And it push me everytime to think what I'm doing (in gerneral).

Thanks a lot for it.

All the Best,

Victor (1995.4.21)

PS. All things, which was not specially dicussed among you and me, you can broadcast, sure.

PPS I should great appreciate receving your Alps talk. Thank you.


Dear Prof. Kim,

It may be trivial and well known things that wrote in previous message.

But if you like it, I can in meantime to send you notes devoted history notes about gauge theories and connecting with it role of person, chance, caridge in science. Do you remember that Utiayma was regreting that he didn't publishe his ready paper about non-abelian gauge theory? Actually, L.Okun and C.Jarskog found out earlier paper by O.Klein, Fock, Weil, et al. where was almost everything about gauge theories but it was too early (in 30th). O.Klein discussed even electroweak theory(!), with gauge bosons.

About me I can send you my CV if you want. Actually I graduated from MEPI, Moscow Engineering Physical Institute in 1985, which was orginized by Kurchatov (leader of SU atomic project) in 1942, for prepairing of nuclear engineers.

So, this institute (SU MIT-like) and Moscow Physical Technical Institute (SU Princeton-like) and Physics Fuculaty of Moscow State University (Harvard-like?) are main (and most prestigious) physical centers for prepairing physicists in (F)SU.

As a student of MEPI, I spend one year in Dubna, Lab.of Theor. Phys of Bogolyubov and did diploma defence in the beginning of 85 overthere. Then at the end of 1985 I got junior research position (restricted by two years) at this Lab. But all that year I (actually my adviser) was fighting to get that position with bureaucracy (all was corrupted) and security (my origin!). So, I spent half of year in High Energy Phys. Institute, Alma-Ata to satisfy some bureaucracy requirements and then went Dubna again. After it I found out predoctoral position in Leningrad Nucl.Phys. Inst. in 1988. And instead of prepairing my thesis I started new life in new sicentific school. These schools don't like each other.

I think it's getting too boring for you, so, I finish. I only forgot to say that before me, A.S. Pak was trying get position in Dubna, but he couldn't, it was before perestroika...However, Dr.Pak was very good, and graduated from Moscow St.Un...So, he is working in High Energy Physics Instutute in Alma-Ata since 1977.

All the Best,

Victor (1995.4.24)


Dear Prof. Kim,

As I told you I red your notes about how to raise (Korean) Nobel laureats with great interest. In particular, how is important (in science!) marketinig and management, even you have extraordinary discovery.

I read also your notes about Marconi. I'd like to tell some facts (presumably real) about that and other cases. I understand that you have numerious exapmles and more exiting, nonetheless I try to present things what I learnt from SU popular literature, stories from famous SU physcists, from popular (F)SU TV program with Prof. S.Kapitsa (son of Nobel winner P.Kapitsa) which can be curious for you. These facts allow to think more about priority and how to be famous, etc. Of course, you understand that SU propaganda was strong, you have to take into account, but after perestroika we can see that for sometimes FSU mass media is more free than the West one(!).

I'm sorry for my English and English names (I saw most of them only in Russian transcription).

1. About invention of radio by Marconi. In SU, it is generally accepted that St.Petersburg Prof.A.Popov (former navy oficer-engineer) earlier invented and created best setup for radio connections. Being navy officer he was thinking a lot about wireless connections between navy ships. So, he started to study electricity and invented then radio setup earlier and better than Marconi. By the way, they recognized about each other (Popov - in final stage and Marcony in intermediate one).

However, some young student from New Zeland invented radio setup earlier than Popov and Marconi. When he went to Cambridge Univ., England to continue his education, he demonstrated radio connection for 3 kilometers! Most of educated people know, of course, name that New Zeland guy. Its name is Rutherford(!), father of nuclear physics. You know also that he was rather skeptical about real applications of nuclear physics.

It shows that it's better if you believe in your idea and devote it as much as possible. However it maybe good for physics that Rutherford gave up radio...

2. About some myths in inventors hystory. Bell, inventor of telephone brought his application to patent bureau only in two hours earlier than Grey(?). It helped to Bell to win judging of priority and become rich and famous. Edison didn't invent electric lamp, as is broadly accepted, two people in US was judging with him. But earlier World Exhibition (in Paris?) was using for light in halls electiric arc-lamps of Yablochkov, russian inventor. Other russian engineer Lodygin invented normal electric lamp and had patented in 7(?) European countries. Somebody went to US and told to Edison about the construction of the Lodygin's lamp. Edison started experiments and found out new stuff for arc. He increased lamp time of life from 6 to 200 hours. He spent a lot of money to win judge abour rights with other US pretenders, he invested about one hundred bucks(!) to lamp industry. Lodygin didn't judge with Edison, he had rights in all Europe. But who knows about him?

It shows how important to be enterprizing and not restrict yourself with being No.1 in Europe or some other 'local' place.

You know that it was time of individuals. Now it's different time. But couple fresh examples from high energy physics.

3. Altarelli Parisi equations of QCD evolution, published in Nucl.Phys., 1977. Now people call them Gribov-Lipatov-Dokshitser-Altarelli-Parisi equations. Because, all this method was applied for QED in 1972 by Gribov-Lipatov and published in Sov.Nucl.Phys. Then in 1974 Lipatov applied for scalar QCD (You need only change group factor from U(1) to SU(3) in evolution kernels). Then Dokshitser, postgraduate of Gribov, considered QCD case in detailes and published in 1977. However Altarelli-Parisi was very systematic and very good understandable. It shows that methodic papers can give more publicity than pioneering papers.

4. Process e+e- -> fermion,antifermion, Higgs known mainly as Bjorken process. But people recognized about this process from Bjorken talk in Rochester conference, 1977. In this talk he told that Ioffe and Khoze proposed (in 1976) new process of Higgs production. After this talk, which was publshed in proceedings, people started to call it Bjorken process. However last time after perestroika they start to call Bjorken-Ioffe-Khoze process.

The same with Bjorken rapidity gap. In his Phys.Rev. paper in abstract(!) he wrote '...pioneering paper by Dokshitser-Khoze-Sjostrand...'. But people call it often as Bjorken rapidity gap process...

It shows how it's important being 'guru', i.e., being famous expert (in right chosen country and time). Opinion of such experts is crucial often not only for getting grants, but for creating community's opinion. So, actually they are big shots for physicsts.

I hope these comments can be not only trivial or incorrect, but curious for you. Above examples support most of what you were talking about in your email network. Of course, in my comments, I didn't touch problems with politics, bureaucracy, etc. Otherwise it could be too long comments.


Victor Kim (1995.4.24)


Y.S.Kim (1995.5.25)

I met many interesting people while in Paris. Among them were two nice-looking Greek ladies dressed in Parisian style. I talked with them about Greece. At one point, I told them that my high-school principal used to regard himself as the champion of Spartan-style education and that I picked up many bad habits from him. I then asked them what the Spartan philosophy is. One of them told me that Spartan boys never come home from the battle unless they win. This is not a strange story to us. Then, is this also part of our Korean philosophy?

The answer is YES, but ours is much richer. In our history, the most stupid person is Ondal. He was the Chief of Staff of Kokuryo's Army and was married to the king's daughter. General Ondal was both brave and brilliant. He indeed won a big battle victory. However, he came home triumphantly in a coffin. This is how he got the reputation as the most stupid person on earth. This story is not unlike a brilliant Greek person named "Idiot" getting the reputation as a fool.

It is not difficult to understand why winners in war are those who preserve their lives. This point is also stressed in Tolstoy's War and Peace. In our recent history, there were four Koreans who called themselves Kim Il-Sung. Three of them were indeed patriotic and brave, but one of them was quite different. He used to run away as soon as he and his troops heard the gun fire. You should be able to guess which Kim Il-Sung turned out to be the person who ruled North Korea for nearly 50 years. Whether you like him or not, you have to admit that he was clearly the winner among those four Kim Il-Sungs. He saved his life.

I made it amply clear that the winner in the war is the survivor. Then, is this consistent with the Spartan philosophy? The answer is YES. If you cannot win the battle, save your life. Then try again and again until you win. This is how you should conduct your research.

---- Follow-up

Many people complained to me that they could not quite understand what I was trying to say in my previous comment on General Ondal. I fully appreciate their difficulty.

Koreans have been and still are self-centered individuals. That is why we cannot cooperate with fellow Koreans, even though each individual is extremely talented. On the other hand, in schools and public media, we are constantly taught the virtues of the state-centered world. We are always asked to sacrifice our own interest to the cause of our country. Thus, our self-centered virtues have never been documented, and the self-centered logic is very difficult to follow.

On the other hand, when you compete with non-Koreans, you need Korea's undocumented wisdom based on our tendency to be self-centered. This is how we can be strongest, and I have some experience along this line.

In my previous comment, I used a logic based on the self-centered world. If you still do not understand what I said there, I can translate it into a state-centered language (or Spartan language). If you came to the United States for graduate study, you cannot go back to Korea without a PhD degree. If you discontinue your research after getting the degree, you are murdering one of the most valuable PhDs your country has. I still like to meet a young man or woman who will never go back to Korea without Nobel prize.

Wisdom of Korea (1995, June -- December)


Y.S.Kim (1995.6.11)

I just came back from China, and it took me 27 hours to come home from Beijing. While I was in Beijing, I met a number of Korean girls (born in Manchuria) working at stores selling goods (expensive in Chinese standard) to foreigners. My natural question to them was whether they like to marry Korean boys or Chinese boys. Every girl said she wants to marry a Korean boy. I asked them why. Their answer was that Chinese people do not appear to be Yangbans. When I asked them whether they know the difference between Yangbans and non-Yangbans, they all said "Yes". They seem to define Koreans as Yangbans.

Geographically, we are very close to northern China, and southern China used to be a mysterious land, as was described by Kim Man-Joong in his book "Sassi Namjung Ki" written about 300 years ago. In one of his early articles (around 1925), Lee Kwang-Soo said Chinese from China's southern provinces appear to be more enlightened than their northern counterparts, and he said it was due to the Western influence. It is true that those from the Canton and Shanghai areas are more Yangban-like, but I doubt very much it is due to the Western influence.

One striking aspect is that the way those southerners pronounce Chinese characters is very similar to the way we do. While Korea is very close to China's northern provinces and used to be very remote from the southern provinces, why are we closer to those southern Chinese? The answer is that we imported a bulk of Chinese culture during the Tang period (600-900AD), and we kept it. However, northern China could not preserve the Tang culture due to the Mongolian and Manchurian invasions. Those who wanted to preserve Tang's tradition went to their southern provinces. It is Tang's influence which makes us closer to southern Chinese. I knew this for sometime, and I acted as if I came from the Great Tang Empire when I was talking with my Chinese colleagues who do not clearly understand the origin of the Korean civilization. I advise you to do the same when you go to China.


Y.S.Kim (1995.6.19)

When I was in China (June 1-10), my camera broke down, and I had to buy a Chinese-made camera there. My Chinese friends were telling me that their top-quality camera costs about $100, and their junk cameras cost about $10. Their intermediate-level cameras cost about $40. I settled with a $40 camera. It was 100 percent mechanical and 100 percent manual. Using my old memory about the aperture and timing values, I took pictures. The camera indeed produced top-quality pictures. I will be very to take your picture using my Chinese-made camera when you visit me.

Indeed, some of their consumer products are like those we used to have in Korea before 1960. However, everybody in China was moving fast, and there are many many Chinese men and women. Tonight, I watched a Japanese TV program about their "Self Defense Corps", which was primarily designed for their defense against a possible attack from the Soviet Union. Their Model-90 tank was designed to counter Soviet's newest T-84 tanks. The program was saying that the most important factor now is the expansion of the Chinese influence. It said also that China will become the second most powerful nation (presumably after the United States) by the end of this century (within 5 years!). I am not an expert on national power or things like that, but I have to agree with the Japanese assessment of China's future based on my own limited observation.

Our young people complain that they do not know anything about Japan because they are not taught in school about that country. However, China is different. We learn thoroughly about our big neighbor in our schools. Japanese are working very hard to learn about China, and we should not be left behind.


Y.S.Kim (1995.7.2)

Last night, I had telephone conversations with two Korean students at the Univ. of Cincinnati. They were telling me that I sound like a college freshman even though I am as old as their fathers. I told them it is because I left Korea when I was a freshman. However, it is more due to the fact that I still retain many of the habits I had when I was a freshman. I am still interested in impressing girls to the extent that they voluntarily give me their addresses and telephone numbers. When I attend a conference, I have to bring at least one girl's address and telephone number. Otherwise, my trip is a failure.

Among the girls from many different countries, it used to be impossible for me to talk to Japanese women; they used to run away from me after saying "Excuse me" in Japanese or English, but things are different now. It is very easy to approach Japanese girls, and I recommend that you try.

When I was in Paris in May, I met a Japanese writer in my hotel's breakfast room. She thought I was a Japanese, and talked to me first. When I said I was a Korean, she became very happy and told me how old she is. I had to tell her how old I am, and she is three years younger. She seems to know quite well about French and German literary circles. She then told me that Koreans seem to have a very strong prejudice against Japanese, and that we need some Korean writers who can tell their fellow Koreans that not all Japanese are bad, and that most of them (like herself) have brotherly/sisterly feelings toward Koreans. I told her about our network system and that I am doing my best to encourage younger Koreans to have a better understanding of Japan and Japanese. I also told her that my young friends are responding very positively to my sermons.

I have many Japanese friends who are close enough to exchange insults. They are quite blunt when they talk about Koreans, particularly about Korean physicists. They do not seem to mind telling me that some of my Korean colleagues are idiots. Unfortunately, I have to agree with them in some cases. One of them said "you (Koreans) can hate us (Japanese) more effectively if you know what kind of a country Japan is." Another Japanese friend of mine told me he likes Kim Yeonja, Cho Yongpil, and another Korean singer whose name I do not remember. When I told him Kim Yeonja recently had a her own "Big Show" in Seoul, he asked me how many Japanese songs she sang there. He became very angry when I said "none" presumably because she was forbidden. In my opinion, their complaints are justified.

No Koreans loved Japanese in 1945, but our anti-Japanese feeling has become amplified during the 50 years after 1945. If I am allowed to put a blame on Japanese, it is due to their unwarranted prejudice against Koreans even after their defeat in the Pacicific War. Let me tell you my own experience as a physicist. After Yukawa Hideki received his Nobel prize 1949, he was interested in constructing a Lorentz-covariant theory of extended particles [this is what string theorists are interested in doing these days]. My research line starts from the papers Yukawa published during the years 1950-53. For this reason, I quote his papers quite often. In 1991, one of my closest Japanese friends told me that he heard his senior colleague saying "A Chosenjin (Korean) should not be allowed to mention Yukawa." In 1993, however, a Japanese student told me that he heard one of professors (in Japan) saying that Y.S.Kim is the only Japanese physicist who made out from the Yukawa school of thought. I laughed and told him that I am not a Japanese, and he said he knew. Yet, I am happy to note that there is a clear difference between what I heard in 1991 and what I heard in 1993.

As you know, I have written a series of articles on Japan and encouraged our young people to cooperate and compete with Japanese physicists. I did so because Japan is changing. Many people ask me why I am wasting so much time in watching Japanese TV programs. My answer is very simple. They talk about us all the time. In 1992, they had a program about the "Silk Road," where they claimed ancient Japan had a connection with Greece. The program showed many different routes, and showed a very interesting map, where Chinese ships start from the eastern tip of China's Sandong Peninsula and come toward the western tip of our Hwanghae Province. Then those ships navigate toward Japan's Kyushu Island along the coastal waters of Korea. Another route is to start from Vladivostok navigating to toward Kyushu along Korea's eastern shores. The point is that the captains of those ships are not able to see the Korean land where hospitable people live.

Japan's TV programs now show different scenes. The other day, I watched a program in which the narrator clearly said Koreans started developing their own civilization during the first century, and the Korean culture started to go to Japan during the fifth century. The culture package included the farming technology, kitchen tools, and the eating habit. This is a big change from the scenes they used to show before 1993.

I have listed above some of the events which clearly indicate the changing Japanese attitude toward Koreans. Then why do they have to change? There are two main reasons.

  1. After learning how to make cars, Japanese are beginning to make their own "kokoro". The first step in this process is to understand clearly the origin of their own civilization. Korea naturally occupies a very important place.
  2. As an Asian economic superpower, Japan constantly receives one or another kind of pressure from the Western powers, particularly from the United States. In the U.S., every college graduate knows that Japan's biggest liability is the lack of respect from its Asian neighbors, and the American foreign policy planners are taking advantage of this - divide and conquer tactics. Japanese seem to know this.
Japanese are extremely talented in adjusting themselves to changing circumstances. They seem to know that they can get the respect from Koreans only by giving Koreans a proper respect. Here is a great opportunity for us.

I note that the number of Korean physicists in Japan is increasing, and many of them are reading this article in Japan. If you are in Japan, I strongly recommend that you go out with Japanese girls. If you are a woman physicist, I do not know what to say, but I trust you will do OK. Please tell me what is the most appropriate way to handle the situation like this.


Y.S.Kim (1995.7.4)

I am very happy to relay the position announcement from Pusan National University, which I received via email from Prof. Han Chang Gil. Prof. Han was an excellent student when he was at Columbia University. In spite of this, he was a very pleasant person. We talked about him when I was having a telephone conversation the other day with a Korean student at the Univ. of Cincinnati who studied at Pusan National Univ. before coming to the U.S. When I asked her whether she was a "Pusan Naegi," she laughed and said "Yes."

I picked up the word "Naegi" while I was in Pusan for two years (1951-53). I did not have much trouble in mixing up with Pusan-naegi boys who used to call me "Seoul Naegi". This word is misleading because I was not born in Seoul, and I had lived there only for four years before going to Chinhae and then to Pusan. When I came to Seoul in 1946 from Hwanghae Province, I has some adjustment problems (from farm to city), but I became a Seoul boy very quickly. Some people say that I am a typical closed-minded Seoul boy.

The point is that I still regard the citizens of Pusan as very friendly and hospitable people. I have fond memories of the students from Haedong High School, Namsung Girls High, and Dong-A University. These schools were called Arirang schools because they used to preserve Korea's traditional culture. Pusan has been and will continue to be an interesting city!

Yet, a number of my Korean colleagues are saying that I have an impossible personality, and I know the reason. I refuse to compromise with the following types of Koreans.

  1. It takes a dedicated and persistent effort to construct and maintain the kind of network system through which you are getting this message, and it is not one person's work. There are Koreans who thoroughly hide when the work comes, but show up with great enthusiasm when the gamtu comes. I treat those people as savages. George Washington has a benevolent face on the U.S. dollar bills, but he was merciless on his colleagues.
  2. Many Korean professors visit the University of Maryland. Typically, they spend one year doing research, and most of them are fine people. However, some of them are telling me openly that Korean professors at U.S. universities are utterly powerless and the only way to get anything done is through American administrators. I am a busy person, and I cannot waste my time with those who are not fit to be professors Koreans can trust. The problem is that they are the ones who expect me to introduce them to those almighty administrators and to invite them to my house every weekend. Even some of our students are behave like them these days. Most certainly, I have an impossible person to them.
This is only a tip of a huge iceberg. One of my departmental colleagues came to me asked me why Koreans are so stupid. He said both North and South Koreas are trying to put down each other using American influence. I had to agree with him. Before blaming North Korea for trying to by-pass us in dealing with Americans, we have to solve the problem at the individual level. Americans know that Korean individuals come to them first for problems Koreans can solve for themselves. We are indeed thoroughly divided and are ready to be conquered. Americans are not the only ones who know this aspect of Korean weakness. You guessed right! Japanese know this better than anyone else. Japanese used to say "Chosenjin wa shoga-nai," when they wanted to say Koreans are stupid. The word "shoga-nai" means that if it is impossible, it is simply impossible.


Y.S.Kim (1995.7.30)

The July 31 issue of the "Business Week" magazine carries an article entitled "KOREA headed for high tech's top tier" as the cover story.

This article mentions a number of successful scientists and engineers who studied in the United States. The article quotes Dr. Kim Chang-Soo saying "We have to create something on our own," and describes him as one of the Koreans who can tell Japanese chip makers how to design their products. Dr. Kim is the Executive Vice President of LG Electronics Research Center with 300 researchers and a $45 million budget.

This story is quite consistent with what I have been saying in the past. We have many US-trained brains, and we should be able to get ahead of Japan. However, today, I would like to introduce a different variable which we can use in playing games in the international community.

As you know, my primary job is to teach American students. In order keep them awake in class rooms, I have to crack jokes whenever needed, and this is not an easy job. When inventing new humors, I often refer to characters appearing in Greek mythology, the Old and New Testaments, Shakespeare's stories, etc. One day, to a group of grade-conscious students, I said there are no differences among top ten students in a class of 100, but the No. 1 student has a distinct disadvantage because he/she is likely to carry a "Herod complex" throughout his/her life. I did not have to explain the meaning of this word to Americans because they all know what Herod did.

Koreans also quickly understand the meaning of this word. Herod was the king when Jesus was born, and he ordered all new-born babies be killed because he could not afford another king in his country. This story is well known to Koreans, but the word "Herod complex" will be quite meaningless to Chinese or Japanese.

I realize that not every Korean is a Christian, and I have no intention of converting your religion in one way or another. The fact is that Christianity flourishes in Korea, while this religion is quite meaningless in our two giant Asian neighbors. Indeed, we have enough Bible knowledge to share a set of jokes with Americans and Europeans. This means that we can easily compare what Confucius said with what Jesus said. This is yet another instrument we can use in communicating directly with Westerners and in getting ahead of Japan and China.

You may then ask me why Koreans are so unique in picking up Christianity. My answer is very simple. I do not know. However, I know very well the process in which the Bible was translated in the Korean language, and it was mass produced. I seem to know what effect Christianity had on "forcing" Koreans to use Hangul. I hope to discuss these issues whenever they become relevant to our research and scholarly endeavor.

Let us go back to the Herod issue. My Korean colleagues, especially young friends, seem to appreciate my effort to get rid of the word "Korea's Number One". We do not need Herods!


Y.S.Kim (1995.8.18)

I was in Guadalajara (Mexico) last week attending the 4th Int'l Wigner Symposium. The 5th Wigsym will be held in Vienna (Austria) in 1997. While I was in Mexico, I met many Mexican students. Three of those students (2 boys and one girl) invited me to visit tequila farms. The tequila is a plant grown only in Mexico, and it takes about ten years to grow. In a way, tequila is Mexico's In-sam. Mexicans make wines from tequila crops (or roots) and export them to 60 different countries including Korea.

We were in a car driven by the girl who was very nice-looking and neatly dressed, but the car was as old as I am and was thoroughly beaten up. With four passengers (three students and myself), the car could not move faster than 40 miles per hour, and the driver had to shift to the lowest gear when climbing up the hills. I was not sure at all whether I could come back alive.

Yet, we can learn an important lesson from this trip. Those students did not seem to mind inviting me to ride their vintage car. Let me ask the following question. Can Korean students afford to drive that kind of car? Even if so, can they show that kind of car to others? Those Mexican students do not pretend to be other than what they are. They are students, and it is only natural if the do not have enough money to afford anything better than what they have.

One of the reasons why Koreans cannot swim in international waters is that they have a tendency to be other than what they really are. The most common mistake Koreans make is to pretend to be the "best friends" of famous persons. I know at least two Koreans who tell others that they are the best friends of mine (I did not know i am that famous), while they ignore me when they see me. They do not have to talk to me because I rank very low compared with their American "friends" who cannot remember their names. They look very foolish to me, and they surely look like idiots to their best American friends.


Y.S.Kim (1995.8.23)

We are indeed fortunate to be able to maintain our world-wide network system. As you heard several times before, our robot system not only serves Koreans but also many non-Koreans throughout the entire world. The most frequent users of our robot system are not Koreans, but they are Russians. You will be interested to know that I am now quietly operating a network system linking up Russian physicists as well as those from other former Soviet republics.

As you know, the transition in those FSU countries has been causing economic difficulties to all physicists there, and many of them are now in the Western countries. Their once-prosperous scientific community has been badly shattered, but their determination to produce top-quality research results is stronger than ever before. They are also determined to preserve the cohesiveness of their scientific community. For this reason, they need and deserve a communication system like ours, and it is not difficult for us to make our facility available to them.

The Soviet Union had eight different time zones. If a Russian physicist wishes to organize a workshop in Moscow, the announcement comes to me, and I then send it to the entire FSU region, including Moscow, Dubna, Protvino, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Tomsk, Minsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Tashkent, and Vladivostok. There also are many Russians in the U.S., Germany, Mexico, France, Italy, Japan, and Turkey.

From the reactions to my earlier communications, I am able to see clearly that our young people are eager to fly high in international skies. Here, I am definitely bragging about myself, but my story will tell my young friends how big this world is, and how useless it is to quarrel over who is Korea's No 1, which means that he/she cannot fly in international skies.


Y.S.Kim (1995.9.7)

I spent three days last week at Evanston (near Chicago) for physics business, and I was fortunate enough to meet several Korean students studying at Northwestern University. One of them gave me as a gift a large coffee cup carrying the emblem of NWU. It is my great pleasure to thank him publicly for his kindness. If you come to my office, I will proudly show you the NWU cup.

On my desk, there is a gift I received from another Northwestern man, and it is a pocket-size copy of the Bible he used to carry until 1961. He went to Northwestern University in 1930 and worked day and night to complete his PhD degree in 1933. He came back to Korea to join the faculty of Severance Union Medical College, and devoted his entire life to Korea's medical education until he died in 1982. I knew him very well because he was my uncle.

Perhaps I can introduce him to you in this way. Yonsei University was called Yonhee until 1958. My uncle started the movement to combine Yonhee and Severance into a single university system as soon as he returned to Korea from Evanston in 1933, but his idea was stone-walled by Japanese authorities. The name change from Yonhee to Yonsei was by no means a trivial task, and my uncle was definitely the prime mover.

Like most of the educators of his age, he was thoroughly male chauvinistic. To make things worse, he used to use very crude words such as "yo-nyun" to young ladies, and the female students of Yonsei or Severance used to stay away from him as much as possible. Yet, my uncle was responsible for another name change. Until 1960, Korean nurses were called KAN-HO-BOO, but they are now called KAN-HO-SA. BOO means a woman (without skill), SA means a college graduate, and there is a big difference.

In 1952, my uncle initiated the "motion" to create a system of nursing college. This was a totally crazy and unacceptable idea at that time, but he was able to install the College of Nursing in the Severance College/Hospital complex simply because he had a dictatorial power there. Now the College of Nursing is a highly respected college at Yonsei University.

You would agree that the transition from BOO to SA was an important step in improving women's right, and nurses in modern hospitals definitely deserve the SA status. One year ago, I watched a Japanese TV program dealing with working conditions for nurses in Japan, and I talked with one of my Japanese friends today about Japanese nurses. They still receive a two-year vocational training (without college degree), and they are still called KAN-GO-FU (KAN-HOO-BOO in Korea). My uncle, a Northwestern man, did his job right in our getting ahead of Japan.

Let us now look at Korean women in physics. Compared with Japan, we have many excellent US-educated lady physicists, and they are doing very well. Prof. Yoon Jinhee (from Purdue) recently joined the faculty of Inha Univ. Prof. Chang Sookyung is one of the most active faculty members at Yonsei. Prof. Won Hekyung of Hallym Univ. is making frequent trips to Japan for research cooperation with Japanese physicists. Prof. Kim Jae-Eun is one of the senior faculty members at KAIST, together with Prof. Park Hae Yong who is her husband. Last year, they sent me a picture book of Kokuryo remains, and I am very happy to say that they are extremely nice people as well as diligent workers.

Yet, it is true that male chauvinism is still very strong in Korea and this scares our young lady physicists. My advice to them is very simple. Korean women are now strong enough to solve their own problems. They do not have to rely on male chauvinistic monsters like my uncle (or even myself; I used to scare girls) to solve the problems for them. Lady Park Soon-Cheon was Korea's first congresswoman, and she pushed through the legislative procedure to add the double-penalty provision to our old criminal code (whose first edition was written by Itoh Hiro-umi - Yideung Bak-moon - the most hated person in Korea). The double penalty means that both man and woman (not woman alone) should receive punishment for adultery.

Two hundred years ago, Korean women were even stronger. The book entitled "Chun-ju Sil-Eui" was written in Chinese by an Italian priest named Mateo Ricci. As you know, Koreans made the first contact with Western ideology through this book, and the book was thoroughly forbidden until 1864. It was Lady Kwon Yuhandang who translated this book into Un-moon during the Chung-Jo period (toward the end of the 18th century). Her father-in-law was the highest government security officer in charge of arresting and executing Christians. I have a suspicion that he knew what his daughter- in-law was doing and gave her the protection she needed. In either case, you would agree that Lady Kwon was a very courageous woman, perhaps as courageous as Maria Sklawdowska Curie of Poland.

I will be in Poland next week. In spite of my keen interest in Poland, it will be my first visit there, and I am looking forward to learning more about that country. Not many of you know that Poland had been divided into three different colonies for 125 years until 1919 when it became a unified country again according to Wilson's declaration of the Fourteen Points. I became interested in Poland after reading a short story by Marek Flako (Polish writer) published in the Sasang-ge magazine in 1958. Flasko was stylishly indicting the communist regime in Poland, but his story tells also that dictators, whether they are communist or capitalist, are all bad. This article was quite acceptable to the Korean censorship at that time because it was thought to be an anti-communistic article. Korean authorities were not smart enough to know that it was hostile also to them.

Politics is not my business, but I used Flasko's skill to print some of my articles in the Physical Review D in the 1970s containing the claims which are very offensive to the particle physics establishment. These days, my main business is to explain what I really wanted to say in those articles. Many of you have seen squeezed-state posters containing a circle-and-ellipse logo. This logo is from one of those papers. I made my trip to Evanston last week because Prof. Horace Yuen of NWU wanted to understand my 1970s articles written in Flasko's (Polish) style.


Hi, Prof. Kim,

It was very interesting to read your story about Korean women scientists. Part of the reason is because I have women doctoral student.

Yes, it is still very difficult for women to work in Korea. Simply speaking, they have to work harder than men at least. They have three roles to play. One is as a wife, of course. Another is to deliver babies and take care of children. And plus professional working. Each part is almost a full time job as you know. However in spite of these heavy jobs, women in Korea these days choose to work (perhaps they are pushed) partly because of their economical problems like women in USA.

Of course many of women 'choose' to work simply they want to join the society's development. One way of escaping from such heavy work while working is to not marry. In fact that is what is happening in Korea. Many young working women do not marry and enjoy their works. It is their choice and I am not going to argue about it.

Instead I want to list some opposite examples. Recently we established a research laboratory in Northwestern University by the support from KOSEF. The leader at NWU is prof. Rajeghi at EE department. She is a woman. She is Iranian. She was educated in France and worked there and recently came to NWU. She is around fifties now. She started her education after she raised her three kids and got her Ph.D. in 1986(?) in nuclear physics. She changed her major to semiconductor devices. We call her a queen of MOCVD. She visited us a few weeks ago and gave a talk. She was full of energy and empasized women's role in science. She emphasized that it is women's job to take care of children at home. What I want to tell you is that she did not escape from hard working but she faced the situation because she realised that taking care of children is also important (the most important).

There is another example in our department. It is Prof. Suh EunKyung. She graduated Purdue and joined our department in 1989. She is very active in research. She has one boy and recently delivered a new baby. Her husband is also physicist at Won Kwang University (Iri). She is her late 30's but she decided to have a baby because her family wanted. So it is one more example to face the problem hard. She is home now for vacation but I know she is full of energy and asking us to have research meeting already.

I am only saying that the latter case may be a solution in Korea. It may not work in USA but our family tradition in Korea still favors the second case. I can list many examples of this including my sister. But I guess this is enough to raise my point. Besides, you missed in your article Prof. Suh as an example of women physicist in Korea. I would say she is the most actively working women in Korea. You can see how many papers she publish in journals.

Well, too much for one mail. I will be in USA next year and I hope to see you in USA someday. In fact I am planning to visit NRL. MAy be I can meet you at that time. Bye for now.

Young Hee Lee [e100lyh@crayc90.seri.re.kr]
Department of Physics and Semiconductor Physics Research Center
Jeonbuk National University, Jeonju, Jeonbuk 560-756


Y.S.Kim (1995.10.2)

These days I get very often telephone calls from Korean students asking me the following questions.

  1. He/she (Korean student) wants to do Physics A, but the professor in that field does not have enough fund to support him/her, while a different professor has money but he is doing Physics B in which he/she has only a tangential interest.
  2. He/she (Korean student) has been working with a professor who is able to provide assistantship support. But he/she is becoming disenchanted with the professor because his professional goal is only money, and is not interested in fundamentals.
  3. His/her advisor only asks the him/her to do dirty calculations or cleaning jobs in labs.
  4. The advisor seems to favor only students belonging to his own ethnic group.
I think I am in a position to offer a solution to these problems. This is not an easy solution, but is the only solution. Before going into the main issues, let me tell you the following story.

Choi Hee-Joon has a very cool voice and has been a very popular singer in Korea since 1960. I had a chat with him when he was making his first tour of the United States in 1971. He may not remember my name, but he knew that he was talking to a professor when he was talking to me. He told me that the greatest lesson he learned during his tour was to find out how the American legal system works. I then asked how the system works. He said that Americans have the ethics to back up their legal system. Simply stated, they respect the law. I was impressed, but it was not surprising to hear this from Mr. Choi because he is a graduate of SNU's Law College, and he was a good student there. However, what do you think his extra- curricular activity was while he was a student?

I think I have answered all four questions listed above. It is not uncommon for one's extra-curricula activity to become his/her lifetime job. If you are a physicist, you do not have to sing or play a guitar to do your extra-curricular activity. There are so many different branches of physics. Choose one as your extra-curricular activity and make it your lifetime job. To your advisor, however, do your best to establish your reputation as an excellent student. Say "yes" to him all the time as long as he pays you and if this is going to earn good recommendation letters from him.

Here again, I am not preaching what I cannot practice. In fact, I regarded myself as a combat veteran capable of advising young Koreans on dealing with their research advisors. Obviously, my advisor wrote good recommendation letters when I joined the faculty of the Univ. of Maryland, and when I got promoted to a tenured position. However, my view toward physics never coincided with his. To be completely honest, I do not know what view he had. Around 1984, I received an invitation form Princeton to attend his 60th birthday celebration, and I ignored it.

My present research activity is not based on my advisor's research line, but on my extra-curricular activity. Let me expand this story. Marcos Moshinsky is about 13 years older than I am, and Wigner was his thesis advisor when he was a graduate student at Princeton. He went back to Mexico after his PhD in 1950 (+ or - 2), and built the Mexican physics community. He becomes very happy whenever I call him a dictator, because he enjoys his dictating job in Mexico. I like him and he likes me.

However, there is an interesting development these days. Whenever, he and I attend the same conference, he keeps himself very busy in telling others he is the only Wigner's student there, apparently because he hears people saying Y.S.Kim was also Wigner's student. To Moshinsky, he is the only "jinzza" (true) Wigner's student, and I am a "gazza" (false) Wigner's student as North Korea's Kim Il-Sung was a gazza. Thanks to Marcos Moshinsky, I am establishing my reputation as a "gazza" Wigner's student.

This does not bother me at all. I have not seen anyone who likes North Korea's Kim Il-Sung or what he did. However, it was quite clear that he immensely enjoyed his gazza status. His original name was Kim Sung-Ju, and he even used his real name in one of his writings in 1993. His was called Kim Young-Hwan right after he came to Pyongyang with as a captain of the Soviet army in 1945. He was ordered to become Kim Il-Sung by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Then who made me a "gazza" Wigner's student. Certainly not Stalin. It was my extra-curricular activity which connected my name with Wigner. Sometimes, I have to clarify this when I give talks at conferences. If you are interested in one of my write-ups, send an email to [robot@physics.umd.edu], with WIGLAST.TEX on your Subject line. The important points of the paper are

  1. Koreans like to approach big shots. In old days, many people attempted to approach God (this is true even these days). I like the approach made by Moses. He wrote books about God, and God liked him. The first five books of the Old Testament were written by Moses. If you like to approach Weinberg, write a book about him. I wrote two books about Wigner's physics.
  2. In the reference section of the paper, you will find the words Feynman, Gell-Mann, Hofstadter, Weinberg, and Wigner. You should know what these words mean. In addition to my name, you will find four Korean names. They are
Han Dae Soo (at NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center),
Kwon Pyungsung (Kyungsung Univ., Pusan),
Oh Seog Hwan (Duke Unv.),
Son Dongchul (Kyungpook National Unv.).

I am very proud of these gentlemen!


Y.S.Kim (1995.10.7)

During the World War I (1914-19), Vietnam was under the French colonial rule. As the highly mechanized German army was consuming French lives, the French government brought 100,000 Vietnamese boys from Vietnam. They were wearing their traditional cone-shaped hats while carrying French- made rifles. Of course they were fed into the front line to face the German fire power. While this was going on, there was a young Vietnamese man stationed in Paris, watching the event with more than casual curiosity.

At the end of the War (1919), this young man (at the age of 30) made a desperate attempt to hand-deliver a letter to Woodrow Wilson who was attending the Versailles peace conference with his principle of Self-Determination of Nations. The letter of course contained his appeal for the independence of Vietnam. But this young man was chased away like a dog. In the spring of 1954, his troops defeated the core of the French army at the fortress called Dien Bien Pu. This man's name was Hoh Chi Minh. He died five years before Americans withdrew their embassy in Saigon in 1975. This was how Wilsonism worked in Vietnam.

Wilson was the governor of New Jersey before becoming the President of the United States. Before that, he was the president of Princeton University. Before that, he was a professor there and had a student from Korea named Syngman Rhee (Rhee Seung-man = first president of Korea). Wilson was Rhee's thesis advisor. In 1919, Rhee was in the United States and was the president of the Korean provisional government stationed in Shanghai. You all know what happened on March 1, 1919. It is not clear whether Rhee even made serious attempts to approach Wilson. If he did, the result was the continued Japanese atrocity. This is how much Rhee got from his thesis advisor.

Indeed, Rhee was quite different from Hoh Chi Minh. He later proposed that Korea be made a colony of the United States, like Hawaii at that time. The point is that, until today, Korea more or less has followed the course mapped out by Syngman Rhee at that time. North Korea these days is eager to become an American colony independent of the South. This is quite evident from one of their propaganda literature saying that they are going to get "two most advanced nuclear reactors solely designed by top-class American scientists." Oh yes, America is the most advanced country for them!

It is not appropriate for me to state whether Rhee was right or wrong. As a physicist, I sometimes meet Vietnamese colleagues when I attend conferences held in the former communist countries. They are all younger than I am, and they seem to regard me as their elder brother, and have a tendency to cling to me. It is because their physics is only in an infant stage, and it is because Vietnamese could not build up their academic/research base during the prolonged. Yes, Vietnam is an independent and unified country, but there are so many things for them to do.

Korea's research base can be and should be improved. Yet, compared with Vietnam, Korea is an advanced country, but is not an independent country. In the world scientific community, Koreans are definitely country-less people according to my experience. This is why I had to borrow Wigner's name to make my research product known to the world. To make things worse, Korean scientists cannot communicate among themselves. For instance, Koreans will never read my papers unless I make reference to Weinberg or Wigner. Some of my young friends are teasing me these days by saying that I am like King Herod. Herod is one of the most despised persons in history, and I cetainly do not wish to become like him. If I appear so, it is because they think I have a strong foreign background.

You are right. Syngman Rhee could not make Korea an independent country. But we cannot make the country independent by blaming him or others. It is our job to achieve this goal. It is a very simple job: learn to respect fellow Koreans.


Y.S.Kim (1995.10.10)

I have been interested in how the people of Poland struggled in order to gain their freedom. It is not because I am an international politician, but because this kind of history affects the strategy for my own research program.

For many years, I thought Wilson helped Poland while ignoring Korea because Korea is in Asia and Poland is in Europe. But I changed my understanding after my visit to a square park across the street from the White House (where the U.S. president lives and works). At each corner of the square area, there is a statue of general who fought with George Washington during the American Revolution. There are four corners and four statues. You will not be surprised to hear that Lafayette's statue is one of them. Among the remaining three, one is for General Thaddeus Kosciuszko. Underneath his name, there is an engraving saying "Son of Poland". He was the commander of the Engineering Corps in Washington's Citizens Army.

In Chicago, one of the main streets is called Pulaski Road. In Baltimore, there is Pulaski Highway. A section of the U.S.1 connecting New York and New Jersey is called General George Pulaski Skyway. General Pulaski was also from Poland and served as the commander of the Cavalry Corps in Washington's army. Indeed, Americans owe a great deal to these two Polish generals.

Thus, it is not difficult to construct a "theory" that Woodrow Wilson had to return the favor to Poland, and he did it in his peace plan for the world. This used to be my theory, and I used to impress many Koreans by telling this story. However, after visiting Poland, I realized that my theory was wrong. In order to gain their independence, the people of Poland had to go through a series of bitter struggles after 1919.

Poland had been occupied by Prussia, Austria, and Russia for 125 years. After the War, Prussians left because they lost the war. So did Austrians, but Russians came back to claim their former territory. However, the young men of Poland, with the arms captured from the German army retreating from Ukraine, organized three infantry divisions. Under the leadership of Marshal Jerzy Pilsudski, the Polish army crushed the invaders from Russia which had been weakened by the communist revolution.

Joseph Stalin was not known to be a kind person, and he wanted to get even with Poland. At the beginning of the World War II, Stalin's Soviet troops eliminated the Polish army by murdering 12,000 Polish officers. In 1944, the Soviet troops came to the east bank of Wistla River running along the eastern boundary of Warsaw, and stayed there for six months allowing Hitler's troops to eliminate the Warsaw population. They then went through 45 years of harsh communist rule. As in Vietnam, Woodrow Wilson has no place in Poland.

Let us get back to our problem. I am not saying we were happy under the Japanese rule, nor am I implying that we are happy with our divided country, but I can say that we have been very fortunate compared with Vietnam or Poland. If we feel that we are not yet independent, it is simply because of our attitude. We will be independent if we think we are independent, and we will not be independent if we do not think we are independent. The choice is solely up to us. If we do not think we are independent, we cannot do original research. Unless we do original research, we will never get Nobel prize.


In a series of articles about Woodrow Wilson, I emphasized that we should get rid of our one-sided love toward the United States. Wilson ignored our plea for independence in 1919. Who made the plea? Your great-grandparents did through the 3.1 uprising. At the same time, we should give up our Asian complex. Americans simply do not know how to discriminate Asians or Koreans. Yes, there are occasional misunderstandings, but we should be able to deal with the problems.

When I was in Poland, my Polish colleagues regarded me as a man from a car-making country, because Daewoo is now building a car factory there. I told them Koreans knew only how to make ox carts in 1945, and Poland had car factories in 1939. They then told me that the difference is that Poland had been a Soviet colony for 45 years and Korea has been on the U.S.side. They are right, and we have been fortunate. Indeed, all we need now is to regard ourselves as respectable citizens of the world and establish healthy friendship with Americans. This is also what healthy Americans want from us.


Jung-Hoon Han [jhhan@comp.kbsi.re.kr]
Korea Basic Science Institute, 52 Yeoeun-Dong, Yusung-Ku
Taejeon, Korea 305-333
phone : 82-42-865-3461, Fax : 82-42-865-3459


As far as I understand, in Korea still the most out-of-date system is school admin system. Still during college entrance system I could find that some notice is written by calligraphy which was used 20 years ago.

This symbolise the school admin system's out-of-dateness. I could notice that in many university's restrooms, hot-water lines exist but are never functioning. I am pretty sure these water lines never had any hotwater flowing. Instead they are filled with air or stained water, and these pipes are made of expensive stainless steel or copper. When we estimate the cost of piping, this is an aboslute waste. But still many newly built Korean university buildings have these hot water pipes even though they don't have enough money to supply hot water. This is one of the typical mismanagement or mis(mal) planning in today's Korean school admin system. Most of admin officials didn't think about detailed but important matters, instead they are just following what they did in the past (Sorry about my harsh words).

At present, most of Korean universities are claiming that they are moving forward to the world and are promising top quality university education in the next century. I guess they have a will and some funds too. But their system operation is still in late 60's not even in 70's or 80's. When they try to recruit faculty, they are asking some materials as a proof of academic achievement like a copy of Ph.D. thesis, copy of recent papers, graduate certificate (even ORIGINAL COPIES!), and also ORIGINAL transcript etc. One thing really ridiculous is that some universities even ask each applicant to translate their course work written in foreign language (even in English) into Korean! I am not aware of any civilized country asking this kind of requirement to their job applicants at the very first stage of recruiting process. They just require free format of resume or CV. At the very final stage of recruiting process (after they decide to hire a person) they ask them as a final verification. I think everyone who had any living/job experience in Western civilized countries knows about this fact.

Nowadays there are many unemployed PhD's in Korea and they are applying whenever they see an advertisement in the newsmedia. I guess 100s of them are applying to each opening. This means 1000s of the ORIGINAL documents would be wasted for NOTHING. Think about how hard to get these ORIGINALS in present day's traffic jam in Korea! Most of materials are never returned to the applicants from the universities after final selection process. Think about how many trees are cut down through this process too (from the enviroment protectin point of view)!

It is very funny that the universities who claimed they have highly talented people never improve their admin systems. Once an M.I.T offcial told me that MIT works with an ADVANCED school system with highly talented people. In my opinion the Korean universities should work for at least some REASONABLE system where their talented faculty members can dwell on. One should not forget that nowadays most of talented Soviet scientist are not functioning very well due to their corrupted, INEFFICIENT SYSTEM. Top quality universities could not be achieved just by hiring highly eduacted faculty members. I think they need to improve their system first, starting from reasonable recruitment process based on mutual faith not based on out-of-date distrust. Anyway, we are living in credit-society which is an advanced society.


Y.S.Kim's Note: About one year ago, Japan's NHK TV had a program on U-Tokyo's antiquated research administrative system compared with MIT's advanced system. At least three video copies of this program are now in Korea. I will be very happy to tell you who have them if you ask me. You would perhaps like to know how Americans write position announcements, from the following robot file.

You may retrieve this file or its updated version by sending an email to
robot@physics.umd.edu with JOBS.HET on your Subject line.
For WWW service, web http://physics.umd.edu/robot/jobs.het.


Assistant Professor in Nuclear Theory

The Department of Physics at the University of Washington may make available a faculty appointment in the area of Theoretical Nuclear Physics, involving subjects ranging from the structure of the nucleon to the structure of the nucleus and reactions involving such systems. Duties will be to teach undergraduate and graduate students in addition to having an active, independent and innovative research program. Applicants should have the Ph.D. degree and a documented record of research achievements. This is a tenure track position at the Assistant Professor level. Applications--to include c.v., statement of research and teaching experience, and names and addresses of three references-- should be sent to Professor Gerald A. Miller, Department of Physics, University of Washington, BOX 351560, Seattle, WA 98195-1560. We will begin screening applications on February 12, 1996, and the search will continue until a suitable candidate is found. The University of Washington is building a culturally diverse faculty and strongly encourages applications from women and minority candidates. AA/EOE.



High Energy Theory Group

The high energy theory group at the University of Pennsylvania expects to have a post-doctoral position available, starting in September 1996. The position is for one year with extension to another year contingent on available funds. The candidates are expected to have background and interest in string theory, supergravity, general ralativity, and aspects of topological defects in basic theory.

Decisions are expected to be made in early January 1996.

Applications with letters of recommendations should be sent to:

Prof. Mirjam Cvetic
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6396


Y.S.Kim (1995.10.20)

I met the other day a Korean college girl who wants to become a music composer. We noted that there are many outstanding Korean performers, but the world does not seem to recognize Korean composers. I then asked who her favorite composer is. She said Frederick Chopin [pronounced as "Shopang"]. I then asked her whether she plays piano. She said Yes.

I then told her that I am not able to read musical notes (we call them bean sprouts), but I still enjoy talking about classical music. We then continued our conversations for sometime. The point is that I could have done the same thing with girls from other countries. I receive these days many questions from our young people about how to travel freely around the world. Koreans like music, and this is one of our hidden assets when we travel around the world. By the way, I will be in Moscow next week, and Russians are also music loving people.

When I went to Poland last month, the first place to visit was the "Church of Holy Cross" across the street from the main campus of Warsaw University. I did so out of my respect for the people of Poland who maintained their Polish identity through a strong church organization. When Chopin died in Paris, he asked his friends to extract his heart from his body and bury it in Poland. I went to the church where Chopin's heart was buried.

After the service, a Polish lady (about age 40) approached me and asked me whether I know about Chopin, and I said Yes, and tried to tell her as much as I know about him. I then told her she looks like Hillary Clinton. She became so happy and asked me to take a picture with her. When you come to my office, I will show you my picture with this "gazza" Hillary. If you have some knowledge of music, it is very easy and comfortable to live in this world, and Koreans are not behind in this musical culture.

I then walked (about 2 kilometers) to Warsaw's Frederick Chopin Park, and spent one hour there asking questions about this great composer. Chopin wrote many musical masterpieces for piano, and Koreans like to play them. He wrote many of them with specific titles, and many without titles. Those without titles are called "Etudes" or "Ballads." One of them can be converted into a band music, and is often played as a funeral march, usually for kings and presidents. In Korea, this funeral march was played on July 5, 1949 for the funeral procession of Kim Koo. There were two bands. One was the combined Army/Navy band, and the other was the combined high school band. They took turns to play this march. When Kim Koo's casket was lowered around 9:00 PM, the Army trumpeters played the last section of the Hymn "Until we meet again" (Dasi Man-nal Dae). The entire nation wept, and even the birds wept. I still have to fight my tears when I talk about that day.

Remeber this. When you travel around the world, you need travel equipments such as suit-case, credits cards, etc. You should also carry music with you. If you do not know much about music, learn! Einstein played violin, Weisskopf and Dyson play piano, and Feynman used to sing while playing bongo drums.


Y.S.Kim (1995.10.30)

Korea's MBC TV is airing special programs in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of our liberation from the Japanese rule in 1945, and the first one was on a 12-year-old Korean girl named Chang HanNa. The video cassette of this program is available from Korean video shops. The world opinion is that she will be the No. 1 cellist in the world for next 50 years. I met her on my return flight from Moscow on Saturday (Oct. 28), and her mother was carrying her cello. She was returning to her home after performing at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music in Moscow at the invitation of Mstilov Rostropovich.

She came to the United States when she was 9 years old, but she seems to have an excellent command of our language. When I was telling her mother that I gave "kihap" to a number of Russian physicists, she understood the precise meaning of this word. Ms. Chang will travel around the world, but she will always be a Korean girl and then a Korean lady. Sooner or later, all music-loving Russians will be able to recognize her as a Korean cellist.

As I said before, Russians love music, and Russians composers are now dominating contemporary music. How about Russian physicists? They are music-crazy people. Music is not their business, but they think they are musicians. Last week, I was attending a conference held at their Inst. of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, but had to visit my friends at Moscow State U., Kurchatov Institute, and Lebedev Institute. I went to Lebedev Institute late afternoon on Wednesday. After the physics business was over, and I was forced to stay for their piano recital held in the physics research building. Frankly, I slept there, but they surprised me by telling that the piano used for the recital was once used by Rachmaninoff (his piano concerto No. 2 is very popular even among rap-crazy Americans). They told me that Russians had good times and bad times in terms of their politics and economics, but they are always having good times in terms of music.

When I visited Kurchatov Institute, I was invited to look at the house where he lived. Igor Kurchatov was Russia's Oppenehimer who developed the first nuclear bomb. Unlike Oppenheimer, Kurchatov got along well with politicians of his country. That was the reason why he was able to develop a manmouth research institute (for peaceful purposes) named after him. The housekeeper told me that he was a music-man, and he loved operas, particularly "Prince Igor" by Alexander Borodin. Since he was so crazy about this opera and his first name was Igor, his nick name was Prince Igor.

I can continue listing many other examples. The point is that, if you want to join the "high society" in physics, you must have some knowledge of music. You may then ask what my own musical inclination is. Well, I was once crazy when I was an undergraduate student. I used to love string quartets, particularly Quartet No. 4 by Beethoven. However, my natural frequency seems to be tuned to band music, and I have something to say.

In 1945, Soviet troops occupied the northern half of Korea. Among those combat troops, there were many unruly soldiers who gave troubles to Koreans. That is why so many Koreans moved to the South. However, there were at least two items which Koreans liked from those Russians. Their "FED" cameras are exactly like Germany's Leica cameras, and produce excellent pictures. Some Koreans came to the South with those Russian- made cameras. I was told later by my Russian friends that FED came from the initials of Felix Edmundvich Dzarzhinsky who was Vladimir Lenin's KGB chief.

Another item very popular among Koreans was the band music called "Red Army March No. 5." The musical note for this march was also smuggled into the South. According to common sense, it was absolutely impossible to play this march in the anti-communist South. Yet, high-school bands in Seoul used to play this march very loudly until June of 1950 when they lost their musical instruments. Korean authorities did not know that this was an "enemy" music.

The original name of this Red Army March is Proschanie Slavianki, saying farewell to loved ones by soldiers leaving home for battle fields. Think of Russian soldiers from the Moscow or Kiev region being sent to Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War (1905). Some of them came to the Korean Strait on the ships of the ill-fated Baltic Fleet. At that time, Korea or Manchuria was as far the moon. I always wanted to get a record of this music, but it was so difficult. While I was in Moscow last week, Dr. Victor Kim gave me a CD containing this march, and my 50-year-old dream has been fulfilled. Victor Kim is a very nice person, and he comes to Fermilab again tomorrow. I am very happy to hear that Korean physicists in the Fermilab area are very kind to him.

I suspect that there Koreans liked this Slavianki march because there is a resonance frequency connecting Koreans with Slovanic people. I am not the first one to have this clue. The Korean National Anthem was composed by Ahn Ik-Tae. It is known that he derived the anthem from one of the Slovanic folk songs. Mr. Ahn was the band master when he was a student at Soongsil College which was in Pyongyang at his time.

Russians are still strange people to us. But we should understand them if we are to play a global role. We should understand them because this will help us in understanding our brothers and sisters in the North who have undoubtedly been heavily influenced by Russians. Here, music could play a role.


Y.S.Kim (1995.11.3)

I received yesterday a copy of the book entitled "Sin-itiro Tomonaga - Life of a Japanese Physicist" edited by M. Matsui and translated into English by H. Ezawa, C. Fijimoto, and T. Sano. I think I know why the publisher sent me a complimentary copy of this book, but this is not the main issue. The issue is that you can also learn from this book how Japanese physicists, by 1949, were able to construct a Nobel-winning physics community without any U.S. influence.

The publisher's introduction contains the following sentences. -- The book has value not only as a fascinating portrait of a man of remarkable achievements, but also as a chronicle of the dramatic changes that occurred in Japan in the course of his lifetime. Through detailed accounts of Tomonaga's activities, it provides a glimpse into the culture of Japan, the lifestyle of a Japanese scholar, and the nature of academic exchanges between East and West, while addressing the difficult social issues that rapid advances in nuclear physics over the past several decades have raised. --

This English version is available directly from its publisher, and the softcover price is $29.00 (or YEN 2,900). Send your inquiry to MYU, 2-32-3 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan; Fax +81-3-3827-8547.


Y.S.Kim (1995.11.14)

When I was in Moscow in 1991, I met two Asian gentlemen wearing Kim.I.S. badges at a bus station. I asked them where they were born, and one of them said Gang-Seo (south-west of Pyongyang) which happened be my mother's hometown. We talked about some of the famous Koreans from Gang-Seo. I then asked them why they are in Moscow. They said they are poets and they were doing their research in Russian literature.

The question is why Koreans have to study Russian literature. When I was in Moscow three weeks ago, I was attending a conference held at one of the Czar's suburban palaces. During a coffee break, a woman at age of approximately 40 invited me to her office, and told me her name. She was assuming that I would recognize her from her father who was a very famous Russian group theoretician. She thought I was Wigner's student, but I was very attractive to her because I run an email communication system for Russians. She was interested in learning about the system.

She then asked me how much I know about Czarina Ekatirina (known to us as Katherine the Great). I told her that she used to visit military bases often, and picked up the most handsome soldier each time. Ekatirina then disappeared from Moscow with the "fresh" boy. She then asked me whether I know where the queen and her boyfriend went. I guessed and said "Here?" She then said "right and this was the place!" She asked me why I was responding to her questions so fluently, and I said that Koreans had two queens like Ekatirina 1,400 years ago even though they were more Platonic than the Russian queen. We laughed.

One hundred years ago, Korean boys (girls) were not allowed to talk to girls (boys). These days they talk too much. Then when and how did they pick up the romance culture? It was during the period 1920-40. During this 20-year period, Koreans learned how to write Hangul and learned how to write love letters. The romance culture during this period was well documented by the Korean novels written Lee Kwang Soo. These days, he is known as a pro-Japanese traitor to our young people, but I am not interested in discussing this issue here.

I was told by my friends in literary circles that Lee Kwang Soo was heavily influenced by Tolstoy. This means that Koreans and Russians had the same romance style at least for 20 years. However, this 20-year-period could be a slice of several hundred years. Thus, my recommendation is that you should talk like Captain Bronsky when you talk to a Russian girl. She may then talk to you like Anna Karerina. We can now understand why those two poets from the North came to Moscow to study Russian literature.

Yes, we have a very rich history, and we can confront all kinds of challenges from all kinds of people in this world. I thinks I enjoy confronting those challenges. However, I have difficulties in talking to Korean physicists or intellectuals. I have to repeat the same old story. Whenever I talk with Koreans, they always want to impress me by bragging about their American friends. They say also that I am a "strong" man in the Korean physics community because I know so many famous foreigners.

One of my close Korean friends once told me that he is much more influential in the Korean community than I am because I have so many enemies. I then asked him whether his foreign background is stronger than mine. He backed down and told me that he should start building up his foreign background as I did. He is still a close friend of mine, but he is a fool! If I am a strong man in the Korean community, it is not because I have many American and Russian friends, but because I know how to respect my fellow Koreans. If you read my earlier articles, you will agree with me on the point that the only way for a Korean to talk effectively to his/her Korean friends is to respect them first.


Y.S.Kim (1995.11.16)

As you know, I have been encouraging my Korean friends to cooperate with Japanese physicists, and I stated repeatedly that the first step is to understand Japan and Japanese. I also emphasized that it is easy to understand them because both countries have the same cultural root. Indeed, I have established the ILBON.KOR file containing information about Japan, and I have a plan to write children's version of Japanese history when I have time. My outline is already in the ILBON.KOR file.

In September, I attended a conference in Poland which was a result of German-Polish cooperation. There was one Japanese participant, and we agreed that joint Japanese-Korean (alphabetically ordered) meetings are quite possible and will be good for both countries. As far as Jap-Kor meetings are concerned, I am not the first one to suggest the idea. There will be a winter school in Seoul (Feb.21 - Feb.28) on particle and nuclear theory along this line. So far excellent.

Here is the problem. Our common sense dictates that invitation letters to foreign lectures be singed by a Korean physicist because the meeting will be held on the Korean soil. If not, the letters should be co-signed by both Korean and Japanese organizers. I am writing this article because the invitation letters (at least some of them) were signed by one Japanese physicist. This gives an impression to the world that Koreans cannot run their own conferences, and that Japanese have to do it for Koreans. I heard this kind of comment from a number of American physicists.

The person who signed the invitation letters is Fujikawa Kazuo from the Univ. of Tokyo. When I met him last June, he told me about his role in the forthcoming event in Korea. I was not happy when he told me he is "helping" Koreans in organizing a workshop. I asked him who Korean organizers are. He said they are Kim Jhin Eui and Song Hi Sung of SNU. In my opinion, both Prof. Kim and Prof. Song have good enough reputation around the world to sign the invitation letters.

I still think we have to develop a healthy relation with Japan in all areas of scientific research, but I would not allow Japanese to think they are running our affairs. We are irrationally anti-Japanese but, at the same time, we are encouraging them to invade us again. This is precisely why Japanese politicians keep making remarks which we do not wish to hear. The problem is largely within ourselves.


Y.S.Kim (1995.11.19)

When I was in junior high school, I had a "high-tech" skill of repairing radio sets, and I used to fix radios for some "high-class" people in Korea. They did not pay me money, but they praised me as the scientist who would build Korea's first atom bomb. Ridiculous, but not so ridiculous in view of the Ben Lee phenomenon 40 years later.

Due to the War, I lived in Chinhae from July of 1950 to August of 1951. One day in the spring of 1951, the assistant to the Commander of the Chinhae Naval Base came to me with his jeep and told me that I had to go somewhere. I assumed that the radio set in the Commander's house broke down, but the jeep went into a secret lab within the naval base heavily guarded by machine guns.

In the lab, I met two naval officers. One was a grey-haired colonel (called captain in navy) and a young major (called lt. commander in navy). The grey-haired scientist was called Lee Yong Dae, but he could speak only Japanese. I do not remember the name of the young scientist, but I remember his face. He was Prof. Lee Tong Nyong (now at Pohang Univ.). He thought I was hopeless and asked me whether I could understand what was going on. I said No.

The navy officer who took me there told me that I should look at the lab very carefully but should not tell anyone about my visit there. Korean authorities thought the lab was a hydrogen bomb factory, and that the future bomb maker like myself should be briefed about the project. Hard to believe? In general, the readers of my articles regard me as an honest person.

The story goes like this. During the 6.25 War, some Korean naval ships received their maintenance services in the U.S. naval bases in Japan. Thus, Korean authorities were able to gather "reliable" intelligence information about Japan from the naval officers who went there frequently. One day, President Rhee Seung-Man received an intelligence report that there is in Japan a scientist who knows how to make hydrogen bombs, but his talent is not recognized in the U.S.-occupied Japan. Rhee immediately ordered his Navy Chief of Staff to bring (illegally) the Japanese scientist to Korea, and make hydrogen bombs. That was how the above-mentioned secret lab was built within the Chinhae Naval Base. This happened before the United Sates tested the first hydrogen bomb in 1952.

Korean authorities knew the word hydrogen, but did not know the difference between atomic ionization and nuclear fusion. The hydrogen atom can be separated from the water molecule, and Japanese once thought they could use so-separated hydrogen for aircraft fuel. The grey-haired Japanese scientist was an expert on ionization, not on fusion. Thus, he was able to make car batteries, not the hydrogen bomb. It was Prof. Lee Tong Nyong who explained this to the authorities. Fortunately, the hydrogen bomb factory later became a battery-making factory. This was how Korea's first profitable battery factory was built.

In 1987 in Los Angeles, I met the man (former navy intelligence officer) who in 1951 submitted the intelligence report about the hydrogen bomb to the Office of the President. I asked him whether he was still in intelligence business. He did not answer my question (perhaps usual habit of intelligence people). One year later, I read his article published in one of the Korean newspapers in the U.S. Alas! He said there that the project was indeed a bomb project.

This incident teaches us many lessons.

First. We cannot blame Rhee Seung-Man for not knowing anything about science. He was a politician. Quite contrary to what our young people say these days, he was thoroughly anti-Japanese. Yet, he thought we had to "steal" science and technology from Japan. He had enough political guts to "kidnap" a Japanese citizen to Korea. Indeed, Rhee's idea had a very profound influence on me in dealing with Japanese. I became intensely interested in Japan after learning about Rhee's "romantic" venture. I hope to be able to tell you someday how I tried to imitate Rhee in designing my own research program.

Second. It is not an easy task for authorities to make sound scientific judgments. The ill-fated U.S. SSC project tells the story. It is not always clear to me whether Korea's decision-making processes these days are any better than the process which led to Rhee's hydrogen bomb project in 1951. I still think the first priority should be given to the investment in science education. We need more professors to reduce teaching loads on our young scientists. Otherwise, we cannot compete with Japan.

Third. The above-mentioned hydrogen bomb expert apparently was not a respected scientist in Japan. There are these days foreign scientists who come to Korea and get treated like prophets. Before inviting them, we should examine carefully how much they are respected in their own countries. If a foreign scientist wants to hold a conference in Korea, it is a good idea to check if he/she has a record of holding a conference in his/her home turf.

Fourth. Our relation with Japan will become more complicated in the future. As I said before, we should understand them if we are to produce sound policies toward them. After I started talking about Japan, I received mails from a number of people saying that they have many Japanese friends. If they know about Japan, and if I know about Japan, we should combine our knowledge, instead of quarreling over who is Korea's "No. 1" expert on Japan.


Y.S.Kim (1995.11.21)

Russians are interesting people. Like Korea, Russia has been invaded many times by foreign powers. Unlike us, they were able to repulse the invasions without foreign assistance. In this article, I will tell you how Russians repulsed Hitler's invasion. I will then discuss whether it has anything to do with us.

It is well known that the decisive battle during the last German invasion took place in Stalingrad. The decisive factor in this decisive battle was the number of Russian tanks. Hitler did not think Russians could make that many tanks. Then the question is how Russians made their tanks.

When they were withdrawing from Ukraine during the initial stage of the War, Russians stripped the Ukrainian factories. They took every nut and every bolt as well as all light and heavy machines from Ukraine to the places called Chelyabinsk and Svedlovsk deeply hidden in the Ural Mountains. They started making tanks on an open field, without even roofs to protect workers (mostly women) against rain or snow. The Russian weather is not so friendly during the winter, as you know. The Russian workers managed to put engines, chains, guns to their tanks, but could not afford to polish them. The tanks from those roofless factories had unfinished surfaces like rocks. Ugly indeed, but they managed to do their job of destroying Hitler's army.

After the War, Russians made better-looking tanks with polished surfaces. Those shiny tanks laughed at their ugly-looking predecessors asked by they are so ugly. Do you think their questions impressed those older tanks with an established battle record?

In 1972, Korea's Chung Joo-Young started building oil tankers without factory, and some people compare this with Russia's roofless tank factory. But this is a minor story. Not many people seem to know that Koreans produced people (not tanks) in roofless factories, and I am one of those who had to study in roofless class rooms for one year, and two additional years in tent-like class rooms. Koreans of my age are tougher than those ugly Russian tanks. We have built a respectable industrial base after pulling out ourselves from the chronic hunger. In the academic world, we have established a beach head in the international community of scientists. Yes, like those ugly Russian tanks, we still have some ugly spots on our face, but we have an established battle record. We were able to do this much because we had and still have the ideology that we work hard because we are smart. We used to say that genius is a son of hard work.

This philosophy is not shared by our young people. I have a reputation of having an inferior brain because I work hard. These days, Korean students do not hesitate telling me so directly. They seem to know how to become smart without working hard. Could they please teach me how?


Dear Professor Kim,

In your email dated Nov.21, you stated that young people, meaning Korean students of the younger generation, do not share the philosophy that 'genius is the son of hard work'. With all due respect, I must say that I'm surprised at the tone of that statement. True, the younger generation probably has its share of swollen heads and show-offs, but from what I've seen, I would venture to say that there are quite a few young people out there who earned their reputation for 'smartness' by toil and perseverance. To make a sweeping statement implying that the entire younger generation consists of lazy and boastful good-for-nothings seems to be as unfair and illogical as asserting that all Koreans who came of age before 1945 are a bunch of pro-Japanese traitors. Generalizations based on stereotypes serve anything but the truth, and as such, in my humble opinion, should be avoided like the plague. You are right to be annoyed when some young nincompoop starts acting like a smart Aleck. But, please, don't consider such people as representative of the younger generation. There are young people who work hard and respect the achievements of the older generation.

Sincerely Yours,

Choi Sang-Kyung [skchoi@asgard.eecs.nwu.edu]
Graduate Student, Dept. of Physics, Northwestern University


Y.S.Kim (1995.11.24)

In our physics community, we used to have the following sets of ugly people.

  1. Korea's No. 1 (cannot compete in the world).
  2. Gamtu lovers (cannot do physics).
  3. Those who have foreign friends who do not remember their names (have nothing else to bragg about).
Well, we no longer have the word "Korea's No. 1." We will never be able to clean up gamtu-lovers because there will always be drop-outs from the research world. However, in our culture, we do not take them seriously.

As for those who attempt to jack up their position by identifying themselves with foreigners, we at least understand the problem, and we can expect some improvements in the future. However, this does not solve all the problems. When I mention my personal experience, I do so because the case is applicable to a large number (if not all) of other Koreans. We still have the following serious problem.

Many young Korean physicists say that they are interested in reading my papers. After spending sometime on the papers, they come to me and ask me the following question.

"I am not able to find any Americans or Europeans saying the same saying as you say in your paper. How can I accept your claims?"

This is how Korean physicists react to the papers written by fellow Koreans. The only consolation is that Koreans are not alone in having this kind of self-destructive mentality. Have you ever wondered why Japanese particle physicists stopped earning Nobels after Yukawa and Tomonaga?

After the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese post-war physicists developed an incurable inferiority complex toward Americans to the extent that they could not read Yukawa's papers, especially those written after 1950. The reason is very simple. No Americans are saying what Yukawa said in his papers! With this kind of inferiority complex, nobody can win Nobel prize.

This is precisely why I started reading Yukawa's papers. You would agree that this is a reasonable way to deal with Japanese. Did I do any injustice to Japan? No! Yukawa's intellectual background is the same as ours, and Koreans are in an excellent position to find out what he really intended to say in his papers. If I was able to connect Yukawa's papers with Wigner's research line, I did something good to them. This is the reason why Japanese publishers send me complimentary copies from time to time. This is also why I can tell our younger friends to open their eyes toward Japan without being accused of being a pro-Japanese traitor.

Let us come back to Korea. It will take sometime for Koreans to learn to read properly the papers written by fellow Koreans. Frankly, I do not know how long. In my case, it is much easier to explain what I did to non-Koreans. This is why I travel around the world.


Y.S.Kim (1995.11.30)

Harvard students and graduates are respected throughout the world. About 25 years ago, I read the following interesting story in the Metro section of the Washington Post.

Two young boys got into a fist fight in front of a local store and broke the window. The shop manager called the police, and those two boys were brought to a "trial" by a local judge (presumably lowest-ranking judge). The judge did not think it was worth spending time on finding out who was at fault. Instead he asked them what they were. One of them was a Harvard student, and the other was an automechanic. The judge then gave the minimum sentence to the automechanic (let him go home), and the maximum sentence to the Harvard boy (let him spend one might at police detention room).

The judge's reasoning was that the Harvard man should get a heavier sentence because people follow the example set by the Harvard man and he should show a better example. The newspaper story said this was a great trial.

Many of you have heard this story from me. When I ask what they think the result of the trial was, most of them say the Harvard man should have been freed while the other fellow should have stayed in jail. But, when I tell the true result, they become impressed and agree with me enthusiastically. This tells us two important stories. The first one is that we have been brought up in a society where educated people can afford to violate the laws while they are more strictly applicable to "lower-class" people. The second story is that we are now ready to understand why the educated people have a heavier responsibility to the society and work harder than less-educated people. I am quite happy to tell you that we are ready to accept this new spirit of law.

This "new spirit of law" is not new. Many army generals practiced this spirit when commanding their troops. General Matthew Ridgeway of the U.S. Army was both brave and brilliant. He commanded the the U.N. troops (U.S. and Korean troops) during the most difficult period of the Korean War (December 1950 - April 1951). I will have an occasion to talk more about him in connection with our problem of understanding Americans. During World War II, Ridgeway organized the U.S. paratroop forces and jumped into a German-held territory before the Normandy landing. You have seen German soldiers from the documentary films. Do you like to fight against them? As you know from the Korean Army, the paratroopers are the wildest men you can think of. The Korean paratroopers do not yet a combat experience, except crushing student demonstrations. What was then Ridgeway's secret in organizing the U.S. paratroopers and leading to the combat? I already told you the answer. He was very kind to lowest-raking soldiers, while being extremely harsh to West-Point graduates.

I am not known to be very kind to Korean physicists who claim to be first-class or something like that, but I get enough support from them to run this network system. Intellectually speaking, physicists are the wildest human beings. At this point, I have to confess that I have been imitating Matthew Ridgeway in running this network system. There are many who like to take over the system from me, and most of them play gamtu games -- very stupid. Indeed, I am looking for younger people who will run this network better than I can, but their minimum qualification is the ability to practice the "new spirit of law" which I explained above.


Y.S.Kim (1995.12.2)

Rhee Seung-man's mistakes in his late years are well known, and I do not intend to elaborate on them. However, I am free to comment on his mistake as a PhD scholar. If you are a PhD, you should be able to write down systematically what you have in mind. Rhee made many important decisions which still affect us. He should have written books explaining circumstances which led to his decisions. We may not agree with him on everything he said, but he could have at least made his views known to us.

While our young people take a negative view toward him, they say that he was the only Korean president who could give "kihap" to Americans. Rhee undoubtedly was proud of this aspect of his life and should have written a book about how to deal with Americans. Since I have been playing games with Americans in the United States, I have to be an expert on the person known here as Syngman Rhee.

During the period 1945-53, Rhee gave kihaps to three American generals. They were John Hodge, Matthew Ridgeway, and Dwight Eisenhower. Today, I will tell you the story based on Ridgeway's book entitled "Korean War" in which he explains how he received kihap from a Korean who was Woodrow Wilson's student at Princeton. Here is the story.

In 1950, Lt. Gen. Ridgeway was the Vice Chief of the Staff of the U.S. Army. Lt. Gen. Elton Walker was the commander of the 8th Army fighting in Korea. During the month of December, the 8th Army became completely disorganized due to the unexpected Chinese offensive and Korea's cold weather. To make things worse, Gen. Walker died on December 22 when his jeep crashed into a truck [he was a reckless driver]. At that time, Ridgeway was having a X-mas party with his relatives in Washington. Within an hour of Walker's death, Ridgeway was ordered to interrupt his party and fly to Korea. His first responsibility was to supervise the tragic 1.4 retreat. His second responsibility was to reconstruct the 8th Army. He surprised every military expert by accomplishing this job within one month, again by being harsh to West-point graduates. He then became promoted to a four-star general. Who do you think could give kihap to him. If so, for what?

The semi-automatic M-1 rifle was invented by a French Canadian Engineer named John C. Garand. It took him 20 years to develop the machine until the U.S. Army adopted it as the infantry rifle in 1935. Ridgeway was in love with this engineering jewel. He often carried this full-sized rifle (weighing 10.5 pounds) while making inspection tours. Reporters used to enjoy taking photos of this unusual scene for a general. On the other hand, Ridgeway did not believe Koreans have enough discipline and mechanical sense to handle the M-1 rifle, and he did not supply U.S.-made arms to Korean troops. This of course caused frequent battle failures for the Korean units, and a large number of Korean casualties. Syngman Rhee developed the following strategy to deal with this crisis.

Rhee scheduled a news conference with American reporters, and advertised that he would speak personally in English. The reporters became very curious and brought the most advanced cameras. Rhee knew that he was talking directly to Americans. In English, he said

"Give us arms! Our boys will fight, and your boys can go home."

Americans had been impatiently waiting for someone to say that their boys can come home, and Rhee said this. This became a big public issue in the U.S. Ridgeway was called in and was scolded thoroughly by Harry Truman who was the U.S. president at that time. This was how the United States started supplying arms to Koreans as well as military training. The training package included a West-Point style military academy. These day, we are watching from Korea's TV dramas how the early graduates of this military academy behaved during the period 1960-1980.

If you wish to develop a new theory in physics, the established communication system may not cooperate with you in making your theory known to your colleagues. The reason is very simple. The existing system is controlled by the people with the Herod complex. How would you solve this problem! Build your own communication system. You have to come up with a device which your colleagues cannot think of. Syngman Rhee teaches us a lesson.


Y.S.Kim (1995.12.5)

Many people are asking me to say more about the way in which Syngman Rhee gave kihap to Americans. In his book, Ridgeway praises Rhee as a brilliant and patriotic person. He mentions Rhee's Princeton background. The question is whether Rhee acquired his political wisdom from Princeton. My answer is NO. I know Princeton people, and they are not that smart. As I said before, his thesis advisor, Woodrow Wilson, was not an effective politician. He could not even sell his 14-point peace plan to the U.S. Congress.

During the period 1500-1800 AD, Korean scholars developed sophisticated techniques of screwing up their own colleagues, and we are not very proud of this aspect of our history. Syngman Rhee applied one of the techniques to Ridgeway. That is all. He is known to have applied similar tricks to some of his political rivals in Korea. If you wish to screw up your own colleagues, you do not have to go to Princeton to learn how. You already know the techniques from our "brilliant" history.

Then, is there any systematic way of learning them. Yes! Around the time of Confucius, there was a Chinese scholar named Sun-Tzu. We call him Sonja. He wrote a lengthy book entitled "Military Methods." We can understand this book in the following way. Sigmund Freud wrote books on psychology based on human being's sexual instinct. Likewise, Sonja wrote his books based on our instinct to fight and win. The Korean scholars were smart enough to develop practical methods based on Sonja's theory. I thus suggest that we learn the Korean way of screwing up colleagues from our own history, but never use the techniques toward our compatriots. Use them when you deal with non-Koreans.

These days, the best way to learn Sonja's theory is to watch American football games. As soon as the quarterback gets the ball, he has to get rid of it. Before that, he has to find an "opening" in the opponent's defense line. Typically, the opening gets developed in discontinuity or imbalance in the defense. Thus, the American football game is a Sonja game, and this is why it is so popular among Americans.

When I was studying Yukawa's papers, I noticed a gap between him and the young Japanese physicists. When I approached Wigner, I noticed a very serious gap between him and the rest of the Princeton population. I found "openings" there. You may then ask me when I learned Sonja. My maternal grandfather was very fond of reading classic books written in Chinese, and Sonja was his favorite author. There were not many people to whom he could talk about what he read from Sonja's writings except his grandchildren. Among them, I was the only one interested in listening to him. A very familiar scene in a Korean family! Nothing special!


Y.S.Kim (1995.12.12)

I complain often that our young people do not know enough about Japan to live in this world. It is very easy to understand Japan and Japanese if we decide to do so. The situation is quite different for the United States. Unfortunately, the best way to understand America is through mistakes made by other Koreans, if not from your own mistakes. The Koreagate is a case in point, and many Koreans are watching these days the TV drama series dealing with this unfortunate chapter of Korean- American relation. I would like to mention the Koreagate because our physicists routinely make mistakes of the same kind.

The Koreagate series is very interesting to me because I know personally two of the main characters: Park Tongsun and Yang Doowon who spent their important years in Washington. Since the Univ. of Maryland is within the Greater Washington area, I am one of the old-timers in this area. Park Tongsun and I were born in the same year. He used to talk about going out with actresses with his Pyongyang dialect. He was a charming fellow.

Yang Doowon was three years ahead of me in my high school. Quite contrary to his reputation as KCIA's hatchet man, he was and still is (presumably) a very pleasant person. He was a consul at the Korean Embassy but his main job was to tell Park Tongsun what to do. He sounded very smart and was known as the "brain" of KCIA among Koreans in the Washington area. While in the United States, he used a false name "Lee Sangho." It was fun to watch him saying "No" to those Koreans who asked him whether his real name is Yang Doowon. Understandably, there were many Koreans who wanted to give him rough time.

Let us get into the main story. In view of what he said after the event in October (1979), Kim Jagyue could not have pulled the trigger if he had thought Park Chunghee had more U.S. backing than he had. Indeed, by 1979, Park had zero credibility with the U.S. political establishment. It was of course due to the Park Tongsun incident which is known as the Koreagate in the United States.

Here is Park Chunghee's mistake. As you know, he had two most faithful subordinates: Lee Hurak and Park Chongkyu. According to the TV drama, they did not like Park Tongsun because he did not send them dividends of the profit from his rice trading. They advised Park Chunghee to dissociate himself from Park Tongsun. Initially, he agreed with Lee Hurak and Park Chongkyu. However, Park Chunghee later changed his mind after receiving a letter from one U.S. congressman from the lower house. Presumably, Park Chunghee knew how corrupt Hurak and Chongkyu were. This alone should not have been be the reason to say YES blindly to an American he did not know anything about. This was Park Chunghee's fatal mistake!

You should know what I am going to talk about next. I am also one of those who made a similar mistake by excessively trusting at least one American, even though I have many good American friends in the United States. Unlike Park Chunghee's case, I knew the man very well. When I tell my younger friends to be careful about Americans, particularly those they do not know, I know clearly what I am talking about. Unfortunately, not many of them comprehend the main point of what I say. The point is the life-or-death issue as a research physicist.