Wisdom of Korea (1996, January -- June)


Y.S.Kim (1996.1.8)

Last month, I spent four vacation days in New Orleans (Louisiana). As you know, New Orleans is the origin of American music or American rhythm. When I was there, there were more than 5,000 country boys and girls who came all the way from Green Bay (Wisconsin) to cheer their football team named "Green Bay Packers" (you should know this name if you lived in the U.S. for two years or longer). You could imagine how noisy or rhythmic the city was.

However, the rhythm most familiar to me was from the bottom of the New Orleans trolley car. It was coming from the air compressor for the brake system. As soon as I heard the rhythm, I looked at the driver's stand. Alas, the stand consists of the speed controller contained in an elliptic cylindrical box on the left-hand side, the air-brake valve supported by three pipes on the right hand-side, and the circuit breaker hanging between the ceiling and the front window on the left-hand side. The driver's stand was exactly like that of Seoul's trolley cars which served as wonder machines to Koreans for 60 years until 1963.

Indeed, Seoul's Electric Car meant many different things to many different Koreans. Near my high school, there were two elite girl's high schools. Thus, for me, the Electric Car was the place to watch neat-looking girls while going to school in the morning and going home in the afternoon. For mothers in the country side, their life-time dream was to make their sons the Electric Car drivers. There were many boys from the Cheju Island in the Korean Marine Corps in 1950. When they entered Seoul after repulsing Kim Il-sung's troops on September 28 (1950), they rubbed their cheeks against the walls of the Seoul Electric Cars.

Most of Seoul's Electric Cars were manufactured by Japan's Mitsubishi, and its trade mark was on the top of the speed-controller box. The Car had six doors with two irreversible trolleys. It had a compressed air brake system whose compressor was producing the rhythm which I heard in New Orleans three weeks ago. In Seoul, there were also small and older- looking four-door models with hand-cranked brake system and with one reversible trolley. Their speed controller box looked the same as that on the big Mitsubishi cars, but it had General Electric trade mark. Thus, my assumption was that Mitsubishi originally took the GE model and improved it by installing an air brake system.

While I was on New Orleans' trolley car, the compressor rhythm changed my my assumption, and my new assumption became that Mitsubishi copied also the air brake system from GE. I asked the operator whether he was driving a GE-made car. He said that he is too young to know who made his machine, and that his job is only to operate it safely. I then looked at the top of the speed controller, and it was resurfaced and gives no trace of the manufacturer. I then looked at the circuit breaker. It looked very old and covered with green rust. Yes! The machine was manufactured by GE. Mitsubishi's air brake system was copied from that of GE.

These days, Mitsubishi products are widely respected throughout the world. Our Hyundai cars used to be Mitsubishi copies. However, Mitsubishi had its humble history of copying even the compressor rhythms from GE. like other Japanese industrial giants. If you plan to buy a camera, Canon and Nikon are the two prominent names that come to your mind. They used to be the copies of Leica and Contax of German cameras respectively. It is generally agreed that the copying game is now over for Japanese.

In physics, we there are many U.S.-trained researchers in Korea. We are indeed in an excellent position to copy the U.S. research system. If we wish to copy the Stanford system, we have enough people who know about Stanford. If we wish to copy AT&T, we have the AT&T people. The question is when we can be graduated from the copying stage.


Y.S.Kim (1996.1.9)

It is not uncommon for Korean particle theorists to tell me they know Eugene Wigner better than I do. I have difficulties in talking with them, and I seem to have a reputation as an impossible man among those people.

There are many Korean professors spending one year in the United States, and many of them are first-time visitors. They are not necessarily physicists. They can be engineers, philosophers, environmental scientists. They worked very hard in Korea, and they certainly deserve a year-off in the U.S. It is not uncommon for them to tell me that they know the United States much better than I do. Quite contrary to the case of my particle theory colleagues, I listen to them very carefully.

Indeed, they have the detailed information about how to send their sons and daughters to Ivy League schools. I know Harvard and Princeton are Ivy schools, but I still do not know whether MIT belongs to the Ivy League. One of those professors told me that he has a friend who immigrated to the United States when his son was a child. His son was the No. 1 boy in high school with all A (plus) grades, but his application to Harvard was rejected while No 5 boy in the same high school class was admitted. He became very angry went to the Harvard admission office and asked why. He got the following answer.

The applicant is certainly an excellent student, and expressed his interest in studying medicine. His high school record has a section on the history of blood donation, but that section was blank indicating that the applicant had no interest in blood-donation activities. Thus, he is not likely to become an exemplary doctor who is really concerned about the health of others.

I hear very often similar stories from my own Korean friends. The point is that the IV League admission is not based on exam scores, but the key variable is the "leadership" quality. Since Koreans have difficulties in understanding the word leadership, it is impossible to understand the IV League admission policy in abstract terms. We can talk only about examples.

Yes, it is very difficult to measure one's leadership quality based on written materials in the application package, and those IV League schools make mistakes. Yet, the system is respected by Americans, Koreans, and even by Japanese. The question is why Korea's SKY (SNU, Korea U, Yonsei) universities cannot adopt immediately the IV League admission system. I hope to discuss this issue next time.


Y.S.Kim (1996.1.22)

In my last article, I promised to discuss Korea's college entrance exams, and I indicated that we may gain some wisdom from the admission policies of the IV League schools. I discussed one Korean boy who was not admitted to Harvard because he never participated his high-school's blood-donation programs while his academic plan was to study medicine at Harvard.

Before getting into the admission procedure, I would like to emphasize that we do not have to hear this kind of story from the Harvard admissions office, because we can hear many of them from our fellow Koreans. Today, I will tell a story which I heard from my uncle whom I talked about in one of my earlier articles. As I said there, he dedicated his life to Korea's medical education. Naturally, he was always concerned about the ethics of Korean medical doctors and doctors-to-be. He used to tell the following story to his students.

During the early hours of June 29 (1950), he was on one of the platform cars (without walls) attached to the train which became the last train from Seoul. He was supervising the withdrawal of the medical staff of Severance Hospital (now called Yonsei Hospital), together with hundreds of wounded soldiers. As soon as the train arrived at Suwon's railroad station, it was sprayed by machine-gun bullets from Kim Il-Sung's Soviet-made fighters (called YAK fighters). The situation on the roofless platform cars was a total mess.

Amidst this confusion, my uncle heard a clear voice from those wounded soldiers. They were urging their medical doctors and nurses to run away from the train and take cover. They were concerned about the safety of the un-armed civilians they were supposed to protect. My uncle used to tell his students that their job is to protect the health of Koreans and that they should learn lessons from those humble soldiers. You would agree that those wounded boys were much stronger soldiers than some of the corrupt generals.

In 1950, the Korean army consisted mostly of volunteers. They had to join the army because their parents did not have enough money to send them to college. They were the true representatives of the humble people of Korea. While the Harvard admissions office was talking about a negative aspect of one Korean boy, we should seek eagerly positive values in our traditional culture, and we should take them into consideration when we admit boys and girls to our universities and colleges. Then how? We will talk about this later.


Y.S.Kim (1996.1.27)

I hear very often the complaint from Korean scientists that their research programs cannot be fully effective because the traditional Korean culture is not compatible with the Western civilization. I disagree. For instance, unless you have your own Jokbo, you are not a Yangban. What does this have to do with our scientific research? Before answering this question, I would like emphasize that we need a new kind of Jokbo these days.

If you have a PhD degree, you are definitely a Yangban, and the best way to assert your Yangban status is to show your Jokbo. If you are a Harvard graduate, and if you like to show your Harvard Jokbo to others, send an email to [robot@delphi.umd.edu] with HARVARD.KOR on your Subject line.

Harvard is not the only university with with Jokbo. You may try some or all of the following universities.

I do not have to explain to you how important your Jokbo is in your social life. The question then is whether the Jokbo concept is relevant to your research. When you are asked to referee an article submitted to a journal, you check first the list of references given at the end of the article. Did you know that the reference section is the Jokbo of the article? As you know, most often, the referee's complaints are about missing items in the Jokbo section.

Next, I would like to discuss more fundamental aspect of our Jokbo culture based on my own experience. Please keep in mind that I am not a special person. I feel free to talk about my experience because I have a family background which is typically Korean. You could be like me! I would then explain to you how the Korean background like mine could affect you in your competition with non-Korean scientists.

My grandfather was a landowner and had two sons. I am the first son of his second son. His first son also had a son. Thus, my childhood challenge was how to inherit grandfather's fortune by stealing the family right from my cousin. My maternal grandmother, who knew my intention, told me the story of Jacob [in the Old Testament] who steals the family right from his elder brother. I used to make strategies of my own, and my grandfather used to enjoy hearing about my plans.

This translates into my research program. Many people like to know but are not able to figure out what my research program is about, except that it is persistent and is making noise around the world these days. But, it becomes very simple if you have the concept of Jokbo.

My research program consists of two stolen research lines. The first one is Yukawa's research line which I stole from Japan, and the second is Wigner's research line stolen from Princeton. If you combine these two seemingly different approaches, you are likely to produce results which are new to others. This is precisely what I am doing. I was able to do this because I was thoroughly committed to inherit scientific fortunes from these two great physicists. In other words, I have been and still am playing a jokbo game.

Then, where does the jokbo concept stand in the Western civilization? Let us look at the first page of the New Testament. The first page contains the genealogy of Abraham to Joseph the Carpenter who was Mary's husband, while Jesus is one and the only son of God. This clearly indicates that even the Son of God needs a Jokbo in this world, and therefore that every human being needs his/her genealogy.

This first page teaches us another important lesson. In constructing a scientific theory, you need to be creative (God's son), but your creativity has to be accompanied continuity (Jokbo). These days, we witness many theories come and go. Those brilliant theories disappear if they could not find their niche in the overall development of science. Indeed, Jokboless theories vanish very quickly.

Then why are Westerners (or Americans) are so blind to this aspect of their own civilization? The answer to this question is very simple. They have not yet developed their own jokbo culture. We are indeed fortunate to be able to appreciate this genealogical aspect of the Western civilization. We should be able to win if we play jokbo games with Westerners.


Y.S.Kim (1996.1.31)

These days, the best gift a Korean boy or girl can give to his/her parents is to pass SNU's entrance exam. It is because one of the rare corruption- free institutions in Korea. Then, what is the origin of this bug-free system? If I ask this question to recent SNU graduates, I often hear the answer I dislike most.

They say that the system was inherited from Kyungsung Imperial College which was a component of the Japanese Imperial Unv. system until 1945. Indeed, there was a university called ``Keijo Teikoku Daigaku'' in Seoul, and its campus later became SNU's main campus. However, the Kyungsung Imperial business had nothing to do with Koreans. The Japanese propaganda machine was telling Koreans that the Univ. was a gift from their Emperor to the Korean people because he regards Koreans as Japanese (they wanted to draft Koreans for their army). The truth however was that it was devised by Japanese authorities to exile their anti-fascist professors to a colony. Do you know or know about anyone who studied at Kyungsung Imperial University?

SNU was born as a component of the national university system formulated during the period when Korea was ruled by the U.S. Occupation Force (1945-48), and the first president of SNU was a lt.colonel of the U.S. Army. Quite understandably, Koreans did not like the university headed by an American army officer. This led confusion after confusion. How was then the entrance exam system? Mess! To make things worse, SNU had its temporary campus in Pusan during the period 1951-53. I cannot really document the degree of corruption at that time, except mentioning one concrete incident. In 1952, SNU conducted its entrance exam in Pusan, and the maximum score was 500. I know someone who got 25 out of 500 and still got admitted because his father was a minister in the government.

Indeed, this created an uproar among SNU's professors, and they stood firmly against political pressures to make the entrance exam a completely bug-free system. When I entered SNU in 1954, the exam system was praised to be 100% bug free by major newspapers. It was Korean professors who came up with this respectable system. During the period 1952-54, what we needed was a clean entrance exam system. We still need clean exams, but we need more now. What are they?

During the period 1952-54, SNU's president was Dr. Choi Kyunam (1898-1992). He was a tall and handsome gentleman. He studied at Yonhee Professional School (now called Yonsei Univ.) before going to the United States in 1927. He received his PhD degree in Physics from the Michigan State Univ. in 1933. He published his thesis in the Physical Review (let us find the reference). He joined the Yonhee faculty in 1934 and stayed there until 1946. He then became one of the three originators of SNU's Physics Department. Two other gentlemen were Dr. Park Chulzae and Dr. Kwon Youngdae. Dr. Park Chulzae later became the first president of Inha Institute of Technology which is now known as Inha University.

In 1954 when I was enjoying my dinner at a Sulnong-tang house (called Mookyo Tang-gwan), one distinguished-looking gentleman was telling about Yukawa to his younger colleagues at next table. I was impressed, but did not disturb their conversation. Later, I found out he was Dr. Park Chulzae and his position at that time as the head of the Special Education Bureau of the Ministry of Education in charge of sending Korean students to the United States and Europe. I met him formally when he was visiting Carnegie Institute of Technology (now called Carnegie-Mellon Univ.) in the fall of 1954. I was a freshman there.

Dr. Kwon Youngdae stayed in the Physics Department until his retirement. These days, when I ask young SNU graduates whether they can recognize his name, most of them say NO. Some say that his name sounds like that of a big politician during the Yi dynasty (called Dae-gam). One of my friends told me this morning that this is the correct answer because he was exactly like a Dae-gam when he was a professor in the Department. He left many interesting anecdotes.

Dr. Choi Kyunam became the Minister of Education in 1956. It is my understanding that he was a very humble person. His daughter entered SNU's English Literature Department when I entered in 1954. Like her father, she was very tall but was humble enough not to show any sign that her father was a famous person. Dr. Choi's main contribution was to supervise a team of SNU's professors who designed the cleanest entrance exam system.

I would like to thank Prof. Kim Seung Hwan of Pohang Univ. for sending me detailed biographical data of Dr. Choi Kyunam. Prof. Kim is known internationally as Swan Kim. He picked up this nickname while he was a graduate student at the Univ. of Pennsylvania. He was an exemplary student there and was admired by his classmates.


Y.S.Kim (1996.2.5)

I send out many emails, and they bounce back to me if the recipient computers are not properly maintained. I therefore know which country has the best maintenance record, and which country has the worst record.

You will not be surprised to hear that Japan has the best maintenance record, and you can guess which country has the worst record. Russia used to be the second worst country, but is now as good as Japan in maintaining their computer systems.

You may then wonder how Russians pulled themselves out from the second worst place. Unlike Koreans, Russians do not seem to mind sharing the same computer address with their own colleagues. For instance, Dubna's Bogoliubov Lab. of Theoretical Physics has only one address for everybody with different user names. This means that there is only one computer to maintain.

Koreans are not known to be keen on maintaining things, such as bridges, gas tanks, buildings, and computers. To make things worse, Koreans do not seem to like sharing the same email address (with different user names) with their colleagues in the same building. For this reason, we have to maintain many different computers at the same time. If Russians choose to maintain one computer, we have to maintain 20 computers. This seems to be the major reason why Russians became ahead of us in the maintenance record, in spite of the fact that they get their computer hardwares by saying DAWAI to others, while Koreans make most of the computer parts in Korea. DAWAI is the Russian word saying "give me everything you have?" Some of the unruly Soviet soldiers said this word to Koreans when they came to the North in 1945. Koreans satisfied them by giving them watches. This used to be a well-known story in Korea for many years.

I said above that it is much easier to maintain a small number of computers than a large number of them. True, but this argument is somewhat superficial. Russians are better than us in computer maintenance because their passion for research is much stronger than ours.


Y.S.Kim (1996.2.9)

In 1952-54, a clean exam system was needed. We all thank those professors who stood firmly against governmental authorities at that time. We still need bug-free exams. But, as we all know, the exam does not solve all the problems for us. Indeed, it has created many side effects. I would like to discuss some of those side effects.

When I was a student, I had a talent of getting high scores in exams. For this reason, I had a reputation of being very selfish among my high-school classmates. I of course was very conscious of this criticism and thought about being helpful to others while taking exams, but I have not yet figured out how. On the other hand, it is possible to develop the skill of cooperation while not taking exams. You will agree that the exam and cooperation form orthogonal dimensions. You will agree also that you spend most of your life while not taking the exams.

I can present to you many evidences indicating that I worked hard in the past to develop cooperative skills, but I will not list them all. The most obvious one is the development of the network system which we are using now. But my best product of my cooperative effort can be stated in the following way.

I have been adding short essays to public announcements like this for some time. I kept most of them and attempted to make a LaTeX version of the collected essays. The collected volume is 120 pages long, as long as a PhD thesis, but not long enough for a book. Most of my articles are written for young Koreans. However, those who really enjoy reading them are the Korean physicists of about my age who lived in the same world as I did. I am indeed proud of the fact that I can be in commutation with others under similar circumstances. The first step in cooperation is to understand those with whom you wish to cooperate.

If you only know how to take exams and fail to develop cooperative skills, you can produce many funny effects. As I said before, you cannot share the same email address with your closest colleagues in the same department. There are many Korean email addresses with only one user name. Here in the United States, Koreans physicists cannot share the same email network, and each has to develop his/her own network system. There are now five networks, and this number will become twenty before the end of 1996.

If our exam system creates only a network pollution, I do not have to write this article. Here is a more serious problem. Every Korean physicist has to be better than his/her own Korean colleagues. The best way to prove this is to identify himself/herself with big shots in foreign countries. This is nothing new. What is new is that this practice is now becoming capitalized. Create a big-name institute, get a large amount of money from the government, and buy big foreign names. How about physics? They do not care! How about Korean physicists? They do not know any Korean physicists. One of them once told me that he did not know I was doing physics.

I wrote the preceding paragraph at the suggestion of one of the most active physicists in Korea. He may possibly but not necessarily be on SNU's physics faculty. However, I have been thinking along this line for sometime, and I am solely responsible for the statement I made above.


Y.S.Kim (1996.2.11)

I received many responses to my previous comments on the Exam's side effects. One of the mails concluded with a sentence "I cannot believe but that lots of us Koreans are too talented in politicking to do physics...." Since I have been thinking about this subject since 1970, I can readily write down a number of paragraphs.

In 1970, the Korean Embassy in Washington opened the Office of Science Attache, and the first Attache was Dr. Lim Yong Kyu from the Ministry of Science and Technology. I liked him and he was earnestly interested in constructing a healthy channel between his Ministry and Korean scientists in the United States. However, this became the beginning of Gamtu games among the Korean scientists and engineers in the U.S. Since the Univ. of Maryland is within the Greater Washington area, I am quite familiar with what went on during the past quarter century in this area, and I can write a book about the comedies and tragedies produced by our scientists and engineers.

Let me get to the point. Once they gain Gamtus, those Koreans think I should get their permission before sending my papers for publication. Those Gamtus became very angry at me because I did not put their names above my name as the editor of the address list of Korean physicists which I started in 1977. On the other hand, my prejudice has been and still is that those Gamtu seekers are research drop-outs and had to visit the Korean Embassy often enough to find comfortable Gamtu positions in Korea. I make this point very clear to them in the language they can understand (often savageous language).

Now, the Gamtu culture is solidly in place in our community. Many of my friends and students genuinely feel sorry toward me because I still have to do research. Some of them tell me directly that I should have obtained a reasonable gamtu position in Korea many years ago, and that I am a drop-out in the Korean society. However, I still tell precisely what I think those Gamtu seekers are. They become irritated, and they shout to me "I will not leave you alone" or "You will not be safe" if I do not obey their orders. I then give the following answer to them.

This kind of threat is not new to me. During the period 1945-46, the North Korean communist party members gave the same kind of threat to our family. Over there, we had to obey their orders because something terrible would have happened if we had not. However, I have been ignoring the orders given by the Korean gamtus, and nothing happened so far. We all agree that we are fortunate because we are not under the North Korean regime. On the other hand, the NK communists can deliver the terror they promised, while the Korean science Gamtus cannot. We thus have to conclude that those gamtus are creatures inferior to the NK communists.

Let us go back to the question of entrance exams. The above Gamtu story is an indication of how educated Koreans are treating fellow educated Koreans. You can then imagine how educated Koreans treating humble un- educated Koreans. This is why the entrance to college is a life-or-death issue for all Koreans. The entrance exam is a class struggle!

While we cannot solve this difficult problem for all Koreans, we can reduce the gamtu-research conflict within the physics community. Before continuing on this issue, I would welcome your ideas along this line. Please do not hesitate to send me your emails.


Y.S.Kim (1996.2.18)

Many Koreans attend international conferences these days. It is by now a well-established custom for Koreans to get together for a dinner party during the conference. Excellent! However, as the number of Korean participants increases, there seem to be some undesirable by-products. They are usually produced by some Gamtu-greedy people and by the confusion about who should pay how much.

In order to eliminate these side-effects, we have developed the following guidelines.

  1. The meeting will be organized and hosted by Korean physicists who live in the area where the conference takes place. Their names are to be announced at least one month before the meeting.
  2. The cost of the dinner should be shared equally by all participants.
  3. The senior members are encouraged to make voluntary contributions to reduce the cost to students. Those who wish to make contributions should contact the organizers before the meeting.
While providing voluntary services for the Korean guests to their hometown, the organizers get their first experience in organizing conferences. In this way, at least one Korean physicist (Y.S.Kim) became one of the most experienced conference organizers in the international physics community. There are always some Gamtu-crazy people whenever Korean meet. They do not seem to know their younger colleagues despise them. The best way to earn the respect from the younger people at the dinner party is to make a contributions (money) to reduce their dinner costs.

From: MX%"SANG-IL@park.com" 22-FEB-1996 12:52:43.59
To: MX%"kim@umdhep.umd.edu"
CC: MX%"kwg@howdy.wustl.edu",MX%"jkim@howdy.wustl.edu"
Subj: St.Louis Dinner (Wednesday, March 20, 1996)

Dear Dr. Kim,

As I promised earlier, I am willing to support the Korean Physicist dinner meeting by picking up the cost for students. So please make sure that all students understand that they are free. I thank you for taking care of the communication.

Sang-il Park, Ph.D.
Chairman and CEO
Park Scientific Instruments
1171 Borregas Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
ph (408-) 747-1600, fax (408) 747-1601


Y.S.Kim (1996.2.22)

As I said before, the exam scores do not guarantee admission to Harvard or other IV League schools. The most important variable is the applicant's leadership quality. However, it is difficult for us to understand what it means because we do not have the word "leadership" in our language.

I have read many books on the subject of leadership, but I got its clear meaning by observing Korean Gamtus. In order to be a leader, you should do precisely what Korean Gamtus do not do.

    (1). You should be honest (Korean Gamtus are not honest). (2). You should respect the people you wish to lead (Korean Gamtus do not represent their constituents. They represent only their superiors and/or foreigners). (3). You should have a clear vision for the future (Korean Gamtus repeat the sins committed by their predecessors).
Thus, it is very easy to be a leader. All you have to do is not to do what those Gamtus do. In other words, Korean Gamtus are anti-leaders.

In measuring the leadership quality, the Harvard admissions office check whether the applicant has an experience of being the representative or the president of his/her class. This makes sense though not convincing. In the case of Koreans, it is more than convincing. Those Korean Gamtus with the class-presidency experience usually return to normal life after their term is over.

To the Koreans Gamtus of age 50 or older (even though not old enough to show a Nomang symptom) who never had prior administrative experience, their first Gamtu is their Messiah! Everything on this earth is theirs. They can dictate everybody in this world. To make things worse, they keep their self-made Gamtu privileges after their term is over. This is why we are having a Korean Gamtu inflation in the United States!


Y.S.Kim (1996.2.26)

As I said in one of my earlier articles, Seoul's Electric Car was the place for me to watch neat-looking girls when I was commuting to my high school. I have seen many girls from many different countries, but the Korean girls I used to see those days were the best-looking girls to me. When I was in Japan in 1994, my hotel was close to one of their girls' high schools. Those school girls were dressed just like the Korean girls I used to see when I was a teenager. They were wearing white blouses and navy-blue skirts. In one of the mornings, I followed them as I would have done more than 40 years before, and I even created an episode.

When I was going to Princeton on one of the days in 1989, I met a young Japanese man on the train. He was a fresh graduate from Kyoto University Law School and was spending six months at the Wharton Business School (very prestigious place) of the Univ. of Pennsylvania. After that, he was going to join the Bank of Japan. He was going to Princeton to see the campus of the University. This Japanese capitalist was very bright and was very proud of his country. Indeed, I learned some lessons on Japan's judicial system from him.

On the other hand, he did not seem to know too much about other countries. Korea, in his opinion, has been and will be a permanent colony of Japan. It is a matter of time for the United States to be under Japanese control. I felt that he need some "kihap" from me. I told him I am quite familiar with Princeton's campus and I invited him to a lunch at one of the campus dining halls. In the dining hall, there were many nice-looking girls presumably from rich families. I asked him whether American girls are prettier or Japanese girls are prettier. He laughed and admitted that American girls are prettier. I know that Japanese girls look like Korean girls. Thus I am suppressing my own people using a foreign power, but not quite -- Read the first paragraph of this article.

After the lunch, I showed the brass name plate at the entrance of the dining hall. The plate contained the name "Gordon Wu" and his original name in Chinese characters. I told him that the dining hall is called "Wu Hall" and I asked him why the building was named after him. He was completely at loss even though I gave him a number of hints. He was the No. 1 young capitalist from Japan, but was not able to guess that Gordon Wu was the person who contributed the money to build the hall named after him.

I told him that Gordon Wu studied civil engineering when he was a student at Princeton during the years 1954-58, while the New Jersey Turnpike was being widened from a four-lane to with-lane super highway. Wu then developed the ambition to build a similar highway from running from Hong Kong to Siberia. He is doing very well these days, and he once appeared in a Japanese TV program. In 1995, he donated 100 million dollars to Princeton University.

The ethics of the Ivy League Schools is that you should contribute money to your alma mater as soon as you earn income. Apparently this is a totally strange custom to Japanese. Japanese seem to know how to make money, but they do not know how to spend it or where to invest their money. The latter is an integral part of capitalism, especially American capitalism. We should however admit that we are not necessarily better than Japanese in this regard.

I often say harsh words on Seoul National University. I say quite often that SNU should be closed down. Some SNU graduates come to me ask me whether I really mean what I say. I say definitely YES. They then ask me how we can avoid the close-down of the University. I usually give the following answer.

  1. Every SNU graduate should start making contributions to SNU.
  2. If this is impossible, SNU should start making concrete plans to get ahead of the Univ. of Tokyo.
Here again, I am not preaching what I cannot practice. I have explained to you my own position on Japan. Let me mention one of the cases having to do with alumni contribution. These days, Korea has many complicated problems. However, in 1961 when I became a PhD, Koreans had only one simple problem: what to eat next day! Not many of you know that I contributed $1,000 (big money at that time) to Seoul National University to initiate a research in agricultural economics to produce more rice for Koreans.

Many people say that I seem to feel free to kihap SNU graduates because I finished my PhD degree seven years after the entrance (not graduation). This is not true! I bought (with money) my right to kihap SNU graduates, as well as the immature Japanese capitalist whom I met in 1989. In 1961, it was burdensome for me to send $1,000 to Korea, but this was the best monetary investment I made in my life.


William James Fulbright was a U.S. Senator from Arkansas from 1945 to 1975. He is known to us as the man who initiated the Fulbright exchange scholarship program in 1946. He was also an outspoken politician and once angered Koreans by saying that the Korean troops who fought in Vietnam were mercenaries.

I think it was 1986. When reporters asked him about the program he initiated, Fulbright said that, in guarding the peace, one Fulbright fellow is much stronger than one intercontinental missile, but costs much less. Many people in the academic world remember this famous statement.

During the Cold War era, Americans were always worrying about missiles, and this was why Fulbright compared scholars with missiles. These days, Koreans are constantly talking about nuclear bombs: whether Korea should build nuclear weapons. I am not interested in discussing nuclear weapons of any kind. I am mentioning them simply because I want to borrow Fulbright's logic. I strongly believe that one US-educated PhD is much stronger than one nuclear bomb.

One Fulbright fellow typically spends one year in the host country, and the amount of knowledge exchanged is rather minimal. However, Korean students in the United States go through rigorous training for five to eight years before getting PhD degrees. One US-educated Korean PhD is much stronger than one Fulbright fellow, provided that he/she makes an earnest effort to understand the United States. If his/her obsession is only in using his/her degree to get a Gamtu position in Korea, he is worth nothing as I emphasized in my earlier articles.

Israel is believed to have several hundred nuclear warheads. But Israel's strength in dealing with the United States does not come from their nuclear stockpile. They are strong because there are many Israelis who understand thoroughly the United States. There are also many Koreans who are capable of understanding the United States. Their names are being "stockpiled" in our Jokbo program. You may be interested in looking at one of our most accurate Jokbos. Send an email to with Columbia.Kor on your Subject line.


Y.S.Kim (1996.3.13)

There is a place to visit in Paris. It is Cafe Les Deux Magots located at 6 Place Saint-Germaine-des-Pres. These days, the Cafe is filled with Japanese tourists, and looks like a so-and-so place. Fifty years ago, however, one of the wisest men of this century was talking with his young friends in this Cafe. Indeed, he became wise by talking and listening to many different people there. This wiseman's name was Jean-Paul Sartre.

Some of you know about him, and some of you do not. In either case, you should pretend to know about him if you wish to be a citizen of this world. The point is that you can become as wise as he was. Sartre started as a very ordinary person, but became smart by picking up ideas from other people while talking with them. Indeed, Cafe Magots provided the place for him. Korean physicists do not have to go to this Cafe to become smart, because we have a better place. We have a world-wide network. You can express your views and you can pick up ideas from other people using this network. In think, in my case, I became wise while writing articles which I used to attach to public announcements since 1992.

I have completed the LaTeX version of all the essays I have written together with the comments I received from our young readers. From these "raw materials," I intend to write a book entitled


by 2,000 AD. In the meantime, you can get the LaTeX version of those articles by sending an email to with WISDOM.KOR on your Subject line. Also in the meantime, you can contribute your wisdom to the book by sending me your articles.

As you know, I have written those essays from my "combat" experience in competition with non-Koreans. In the future, I intend to discuss my experience with my Jewish friends. In competitions, it is absolutely necessary to understand and respect your potential rivals. This is Sonja's teaching. Before understanding your competitors, you should understand yourself first. That is why Koreans need the Korean Wisdom.

Let us go back to Jean-Paul Sartre. What philosophy did he preach? His philosophy is very easy to understand, and this is why he is so popular. If you go the a meeting, like the APS meeting to be held in St. Louis next week, you will see more than 5,000 physicists. However, to you, you are the most important person. Thus, you are going to present the most important paper at the meeting. You promise!

Also at the Korean dinner meeting, you are the most important person, and you know how to deal with those self-proclaimed Gamtus if they dare to show up. Let us thank again Mr. Jae-Yong Kim and Mr. Won-Jeong Kim for their excellent job of arranging the dinner. We are all grateful to Dr. Sang-il Park for his financial contribution. Dr. Park is a mature capitalist, unlike the Japanese young man whom I met and kihapped in 1989 (read my previous article). We need more people like Dr. Park!


Y.S.Kim (1996.3.25)

The CLEO/QELS is a mammoth international conference in optical sciences held every year in May or June. This year, the meeting will take place during the first week of June in Anaheim not far from Los Angeles. The Korean dinner meeting will be organized by

Mr. Hidong Kwak [kwak@citrus.ucr.edu] of UC Riverside, and
Mr. Soung Soo Yi [yi@uclaph.physics.ucla.edu] of UCLA.

It was announced earlier that the dinner meeting will take place on Tuesday (June 4) or Wednesday (June 5). The organizers will soon have to choose the date. Please send in your preferred day (Tuesday or Wednesday, not both) to one of the above organizers. This Korean dinner meeting will follow the guidelines developed by our condensed matter physicists. The rules are:

  1. The meeting will be organized and hosted by Korean physicists who live in the area where the conference takes place.
  2. The cost of the dinner should be shared equally by all participants.
  3. The senior members are encouraged to make voluntary contributions to reduce the cost to students. If you wish to make a contribution, please contact the organizer of the meeting as soon as possible.
Korean physicists seem to feel quite comfortable with these guidelines, and this is why they had a highly successful meeting last week in St. Louis. The revised list of participants now (included in this mail) contains 98 names, and we like to add two more names in order to make 100. Please send in your name if you attended the dinner party but forgot to register your name. For a updated list, send an email to [robot@physics.umd.edu] with MEET.KOR on your Subject line.

Next year, the March Korean Dinner Meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 19 (1997) in Kansas City (Missouri). We are very happy to hear that

Mr. Jae-Yong Kim [jkim@howdy.wustl.edu] and
Mr. Won-jeong Kim [kwg@howdy.wustL.edu]

of Washington Univ. volunteered again to provide their service to the meeting. Their names are quite familiar to us. They are the ones who organized last week's meeting in St. Louis, and they are now professional organizers. It is very unusual for APS to have two consecutive meetings in the same state, but we are capable of dealing with this problem.

Kansas City is in Missouri (not in Kansas). This city is largely unknown to Koreans. But Harry Truman had his home in a city named Independence within the city limit of Kansas City. Truman was the president of the United States from 1945 to 1952. During this period, he made three most difficult decisions for the United States. (1) to drop nuclear bombs on two populated Japanese cities in 1945, (2) to intervene in the Korean conflict in 1950, and (3) to fire Douglas MacArthur in 1951. It is interesting to note that all three decisions have to do with Korea. On June 25 (1950) (evening of June 24, 1950 in the U.S.), Truman was spending his weekend at his home in Independence, and decided there to stop the communist invasion in Korean.

Since Korea was under the U.S. military occupation from 1945 to 1948, Truman was the "king" of Korea for three years. During his reign, the most agonizing task for him was to sign the invitation letter to Kim Koo to the witness stand during the trial of the assassins of a politician named Chang Duk-Soo. This was also a very agonizing moment for Koreans. Yet, we should give a credit to Truman for preventing the entire Korean peninsula from becoming a Soviet colony. When I was in Kansas city in 1968, I visited to his house though I was not invited in. The street in front of his house is called Truman Street. When I asked small boys passing by whose house that was, they said very proudly "President Truman's house."


Y.S.Kim (1996.3.29)

When I go to Europe, I often talk about philosophers with my European friends. When they ask me who I think is the best American philosopher, I say "Thomas Edison." According to this kind of definition, the philosophy of France is Art.

In 1939, when German army was becoming uncontrollably strong, some of the well-to-do Parisians collected money to send several thousands bushels of red roses to the Maginot line, in order to boost the morale of the French troops guarding the French-German border. This does not show how strong France is in art. However, I would like to advise you to watch a French film entitled "Les Enfants du Paradis" (children of paradise) produced by Marcel Carne. It is like watching the classic American film "Gone with the Wind," whose the cinema logistics shows how resourceful the United States was in 1935.

The point is that "Children of Paradise" which boasts off the richness of France was produced in 1943 when France was under German occupation. The French film artists were able to produce this miracle during the most difficult period in France's history. This is not all. During the 1940-44 Nazi occupation, France produced some deep thinkers. Jean-Paul Sartre was one of them. Sartre refused the 1964 Nobel prize in literature because he thought the prize was a kind of Gamtu (he hated Gamtu much more than I did). When he died in 1980, his funeral cortege was followed by 50,000 young Europeans. Then what did Sartre really teach to earn the respect of those young people?

During the Nazi occupation, a young Frenchman had the following difficult problem. His elder brother was killed by German troops. His father left his family in order to collaborate with Germans. Thus, he was living with his mother. To her, this young man was everything. However, he very strongly felt that he had to flee to England to join the French Army being organized there. But his departure from his mother meant her collapse. After going through the agony, he went to Sartre and asked him what to do. Sartre clearly understood his problem, and said to him


Sartre was respected by young Frenchmen because he gave them the true meaning of FREEDOM. You would agree that we need a Sartre these days who will give lessons to our Korean students. Whenever things go wrong, Koreans blame the educational system they went through. While I was writing this article (around the noon of March 30 in Korea), the high school I attended (1948-54 in Korea) was having its 50th anniversary celebration. The principal of the high school was kind enough to invite me to participate in the ceremony. Though I was not able to fly to Korea, I told him that I met many people from many different parts of the world but I never had a moment to think the Korean educational system is second to any other educational system in the world.

I often have the following conversation with Korean students. They tell me that I am not a popular figure among Koreans because I insist on being honest and straightforward. They also complain that they cannot compete in the world because of the Korean educational system. I then ask them whether the Korean educational system taught them to be dishonest. They then complain that the Korean system does not teach them how to be honest. I think even animals know how to be honest. Thus, talking to Korean students is sometimes like talking to stone walls.

There are no schools in the world which will satisfy Korean students these days. Instead of complaining, they should realize that they are FREE to create a new knowledge whenever they need. If they cannot create new knowledge, they cannot compete in the world. Thomas Edison had his own style of creating new knowledge, and this is the reason why I insist that he was an American philosopher.

Let us go back to the issue of the Maginot line. Andre Maginot was an efficient government administrator, but he was wounded and crippled while serving in the army during World War I. He had enough reason to prevent another war with Germans. Maginot was the French war minister (minister of defense) during the period 1929-31. He produced the concept of heavy fortifications along the French-German border to keep German troops from marching into France. Maginot's original plan of course included France's entire eastern border, but the French politicians did not allocate enough budget to cover their border with Belgium. This incomplete Maginot line was completed in 1938. As you know, in 1940, highly mechanized German troops invaded France through the Belgian-French border.

Thus, according to the wisdom of young Koreans these days, the solution is very simple to the above-mentioned young Frenchman who went to Sartre. Blame Andre Maginot! You would agree that this answer is not consistent with Korea's true wisdom. Then where is Korea's true wisdom? You are FREE to find out.


Y.S.Kim (1996.4.9)

One of the readers of our Network told me that I used to preach Confucianism in the past. These days, I am preaching Sartrism. He then asked me what went wrong with me. Yes, I indeed preached Confucianism in the past. In an article which I wrote three years ago, I said

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

These days, I say Sartre is a great man because he said "You are free to choose." Possible conclusions are

  1. Confucius and Sartre were the same person.
  2. Confucius and Sartre preach two different things, but they can be combined into a greater philosophy.
  3. Confucianism and Sartrism can never be reconciled. If you chose one, you have to abandon the other.
  4. Neither of them teaches anything.
Indeed, "you are free to choose" one of the above conclusions. Y.S.Kim is is free to choose 1).

Sartre is regarded as the latest in the series of philosophers labeled as as existentialists. The word existentialism was introduced to Korea through articles published in the Sasang-ge magazine in the late 1950s. Those articles were written by the group of Korean intellectuals who went to Japan to study in the early 1940s but were drafted to the old Japanese army before completing their undergraduate degrees. They made their valiant effort to enlighten Koreans through their articles, but their problem was that they had no experience with the Western world to understand and explain what existentialism means to daily life.

The question is why I say Confucius and Sartre are the same person. The answer is very simple. The Eastern philosophy starts from individual (self first). On the other hand, the Western philosophy starts from one God (Old Testament) and one State (Plato's Republic), where individuals are minor parts of one society. It was not until Immanuel Kant when Westerns started thinking that individuals play roles in shaping up the picture of the universe.

There is a saying that one Korean is very strong, two Korean are weak, and five Koreans are very stupid. All Koreans were born as individualists. This could be a strength because creativity often comes a concentrated effort by one individual. Let me give you one easy example. I have been working hard to develop this network for sometime. It is well known that there are several groups of Koreans who want to take away this network operation from me. Some of them explicitly promised to destroy me, but not many of them have been successful yet. The reason is very simple. They think they are very strong because they cooperate with other Koreans. The truth is that they are very weak because they have to cooperate with other Koreans. You will be interested to know that I had at least one experience like this before I started working for the Korean physics community in 1977. Here I clearly know what I say.


Y.S.Kim (1996.5.1)

As you can see, many Korean physicists studied at universities in the United States and they are now playing leading roles in Korea. At this point, we should raise the following question. Did Koreans study in the U.S. or did the United States educate Koreans?

Koreans become very angry whenever Japanese politicians say that Japan educated Koreans in the past. When we become angry enough, those politicians have to resign. This process seems to be endless. Then why do Japanese politicians keep making the suicidal statement?

In one of my earlier articles, I emphasized the importance of libraries. There I made references to an American general and 155-mm guns. The point is that we do not have to learn lessons on library from an army man. The 155-mm gun is not to useful to physicists unless you want to send artillery shells from the SNU campus to Ewha Womans (this is the correct spelling) University to impress the girls there. If you do not wish to learn anything from me, I can mention a Korean who was far more prominent than I am.

As you know, Kim Sung-Soo was Korea's first enlightened capitalist. He was a son of rich landowner, and he transformed his agricultural fortune to industrial capital resulting in Korea's textile industry. He provided financial supports for Chaugh Byong-Ok and Chang Duk-Soo when they were studying at Columbia University in the 1930s. His greatest work was to build a school known today as Korea University while Korea was under Japanese occupation.

Initially Korea University started with two huge stone buildings. One was for the library, and the other is for the rest of the University. The library building was bigger, and the campus was like this until 1960 (please correct me if I am wrong). Naturally, many people wondered why the library building has to be bigger than the rest of the campus, and some of them went to Kim Sung-Soo asked him why he was so crazy. He said he had to do in that way since otherwise the younger generations of Koreans would thoroughly curse him. Kim Sung-Soo was saying that Koreans are book-loving people and Korea Univ. was for Koreans.

These days, young Koreans curse him for being a pro-Japanese traitor. I understand their logic, but I do not agree with them. They came to this conclusion because they are not able to learn lessons from fellow Koreans. Certainly we did not learn anything from Kim Sung-Soo about libraries, even though we get impressed with an American general having nothing to do with library business. If we fail to learn anything from Koreans, it is natural for Japanese or other foreigners to claim that they taught us everything. We cannot really blame those Japanese politicians until we fix up ourselves.


Y.S.Kim (1996.5.2)

The graduates of West Point are admired throughout the world, and the West Point graduation ceremony is an important annual event. Thus, you would assume that the No. 1 man/woman (like Douglas MacArthur) would receive the attention of the entire world. Wrong! The hero at the ceremony is the person with the WORST academic record or the WORST exam-taker. He/she is called the anchorman of the class. The anchorman shakes hands with the Army Chief of Staff at the ceremony, and the hand-shaking scene appears on the front or second page of the New York Times next day. This is a strong testimony that there are many things more important than exams in life at West Point.

Let me be more quantitative. I spent last Saturday (April 27) at the Washington-area meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. Unlike alumni meetings in Korea, the Harvard meeting is a conference consisting of seminar sessions and after-banquet discussions, and is attended by many non-Harvard persons like me. After the banquet, the Provost reported the status of the University. He talked about Harvard's admission policy.

Before filing applications to colleges, all high-school students in the United States have to take two standardized tests called SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) tests. One of them is a verbal test and the other is for math. The perfect score for each test is 800. Among the 16,000 applicants for the 1996 class of 1,500 freshmen (competition ratio = 10.7 to 1), more than 1,600 applicants had the perfect score in the verbal test, and more than 1,900 had the perfect score in math. Among them, there are 165 with perfect scores in both verbal and math tests. 2,900 of the applicants are valedictorians (No. 1 boy/girl in his/her high school class).

Thus, according to our common sense, you have to be a valedictorian and should have 800 in at least one of the SAT tests. If you have perfect scores in both verbal and math, your admission will is guaranteed. WRONG! It is not unusual for Harvard to admit those with total SAT score as low as 1,200 (math + verbal), while rejecting those with the perfect score of 1,600 (800 in math + 800 in verbal).

What is then the criterion? The provost reiterated that the key variable is the leadership potential. I will stop here, and continue my discussion next time. However, if you read my earlier articles, you can predict how I am going to talk. I will praise Harvard first, and I will then point out Koreans have traditional values which will make our universities greater than Harvard. As I said before, I am writing this series of articles to find the Wisdom of Korea.


Y.S.Kim (1996.5.5)

As I said in my previous mail, I attended a Harvard alumni meeting on April 27. There were six seminar sessions, and I attended three of them entitled:

  1. Leadership
  2. Why are communists coming back in Russia?
  3. Network Ethics
The seminar speaker on Leadership was a young Harvard professor, but did not appear to have affiliation with the admissions office. He is simply the world authority in telling who are the leaders and who are not. Naturally, he emphasized that you do not have to be a politician to be a great leader. Among the leaders he respects, he included Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. He also said you should know ho to tell stories to those whom you expect to lead, which was a new lesson to me.

The session chairman allocated 30 minutes for questions and answers. When my turn came, I praised the speaker for mentioning Einstein and Picasso, and asked whether Elvis Presley was a leader. He acknowledged the fact that there are many people who believe Elvis is still alive, but he has to say that Elvis was not a leader. To raise the level of confusion, he said John Lennon was a leader. I became thoroughly confused, but did not argue with the speaker.

I think Elvis Presley was a good leader. He and I was born in the same year. He was drafted to the U.S. Army when I was an undergraduate student. At that time, people thought the Army will straighten up Elvis who was regarded as a misfit at that time. But he served as his country well as an exemplary soldier. He made generous contributions to his church and many charity organizations. First of all, he changed the way we sing. Before Elvis, women had to sing to entertain men. After Elvis, men also have to sing to make women happy. He was one of the greatest liberators of women.

If Harvard uses the word "leadership" as the primary factor in deciding whom to admit and whom to reject, the word has to be clearly defined. But, as you can see above, it is impossible. However, people respect the way in which Harvard constructs its Freshmen class every year. If you force me to answer this puzzling question, I will say that the Harvard criterion is not leadership, but something more fundamental. There is a key Korean word for this. I will discuss this issue next time.


Y.S.Kim (1996.5.11)

It is fair to say that the area around the I-95 Super Highway between Boston and Washington (DC) is the capital city of the United States, and I live near Washington. For this reason, I drive to Boston fairly often. The one-way distance is about 550 miles, and I have to spend one night at a hotel. My favorite place is a motel called Post Motor Inn in Milford (Connecticut) about 20 miles south of Yale University.

What is so special about this motel? It is run by a Polish lady of about my age, and she has a peculiar habit. In the morning, she has to make sure that I and my wife are fully fed before we leave the motel. She sits with us and tells us to eat this and that. She does this to every customer. This sounds strange to you, but Koreans were like this 50 years ago. Indeed, until recently, Koreans have been HIIGS for 5,000 years.

Do you know what HIIG stands for? When you were attending your elementary and high schools, you read the word consisting of four Chinese characters "Hong Ik In Gan," and the ultimate aim of the Korean educational system is to make you a HIIG. The trouble is that, if Koreans go through colleges, most of them become anti-HIIGs. We shall talk more about this problem later.

I had to invent "HIIG" as a new English word because I am not able to find a word carrying the same meaning in English dictionaries. It is not unlike the case where we cannot find the word "leadership" in Korean dictionaries. I seem to have enough statistics to show that Harvard's admission criterion is the HIIG, even though they say they are interested in leaders. In one of my earlier articles, I mentioned one Korean boy who could not get into Harvard because he did not participate in blood donations while he was interested in becoming a medical doctor. Clearly, in this case, Harvard was complaining that the applicant was not a HIIG. Harvard seems to ask whether the applicants are HIIGs before asking whether they are leaders.

On January 20 (1961), one Harvard man gave a very famous speech. I am talking about John F. Kennedy's inauguration speech. There he said there "Ask not --- ." If you are a Korean, you should be able to complete this sentence (not every American can). Kennedy was urging Americans to become HIIGS. This quotation has a strong impact on young Koreans because they know what HIIG means.

The concept of HIIG does not stop at being helpful to others. Many people become creative while trying to help others. Maria Curie was a case in point, but Thomas Edison is more familiar to us. I assume that you watched a movie about Tom Edison's childhood. Then you will agree that Edison becomes a genius whenever he wants to help others. You should therefore become a HIIG first if you want to become a creative person. If Korean college graduates are not creative, it is largely because they are not HIIGS.

What I said above will become more transparent if I mention my own experience along this line. In one of my earlier articles, I said I contributed $1,000 to SNU in 1961 to initiate a research. I was inspired by Kennedy's "Ask not" speech at that time, and I tried to be a HIIG. However, this is not the end of the story. These days, Korean universities talk about research programs supported by out-side funding. You would agree that I was creative enough to introduced the concept of outside funding for university researche in Korea (it is possible that other Koreans did before I did; being the first here is not a critical issue to me). I was on the giver's side.

These days, millions of Korean tax payers are providing funds for numerous research programs, and most of our scientists are doing well. However, there appears to be one dangerous trend. Some people seem to think Korea can raise the level of scientific research by buying big foreign names. I do not know how much they are paying to those Nobel-class people. But a more serious problem is that another Park Tongsun incident is developing. As you know, the Park Tongsun incident was created by the our weakness that

  1. Korean still think they can solve all the problems by bribing influential foreigners.
  2. Koreans do not listen to the advice given by fellow Korean, but blindly follow the orders given by foreigners.
The Park Tongsun case eventually led to the total loss of credibility by Park Chung Hee regime in the United States and its eventual downfall. We cannot afford a loss of credibility in the world scientific community.


Y.S.Kim (1996.5.12)

My office is on the fourth floor of the Physics Building of the Univ. of Maryland, I meet many people while on the elevator. When I was trying to tell one of my colleagues what I heard at the Harvard alumni meeting which I attended two weeks ago, he bluntly said "You are a Princeton man! What business do you have with Harvard?"

He then continued "Princeton and Harvard are equally bad! They say the same thing all the time. But you are smart! If you go to a Harvard meeting, you will pay only $100. If you go to a Princeton meeting, you will have to write a $5,000 check."

What he said is almost true. I paid exactly $100 to attend the Harvard meeting. Yes, if you are a graduate of an Ivy League school, you become permanently indebted. You will have to pay. After you pay, you will have to pay again.

What does the alumni association do with all the money they collect? They build libraries, dormitories, labs, sports complexes, and many others. The university always needs money.

The by-product of these activities is that the alumni association becomes powerful enough to tell the administrators how to run the university. In Korea, these days, it is so exciting for the faculty to elect the president of their university. Finally, democracy on campus! It is not so in the United States. The president of Princeton University is chosen by its alumni association.

The alumni association of course actively participates in shaping up the admission policy. This is why the probability of getting accepted by Harvard or Princeton is four times greater if the applicant's father or mother went to the same school. However, their admission policy is well respected throughout the world because it is a product of continuing research. Yes, they make mistakes, and quite often produce disagreements with the parents of unsuccessful candidates. Yet, the university stays strong and keeps attracting excellent applicants. The reason is very simple. Their admission policy enjoys a "political" backing from their alumni association.

The reasons why Koreans cannot change the present entrance exam system is that there is always a danger of the system being corrupted by rich and powerful people. The United States has the same problem. But there is a rich and powerful alumni association which provides a protection against those hostile intruders.

I sometimes talk as if I could solve all the problems for Korea. However, in this case, I cannot say when Korea will reach this stage of refined capitalism. Please do not misunderstand. Capitalism does not stop at making cars, TV sets, or jet planes.


Y.S.Kim (1996.5.13)

Yesterday, I mentioned the Physics Building of the Univ. of Maryland. This building was built by a construction team headed by George Weber. Weber was an engineering officer in the U.S. Army during the WWII, and was the head of the physical plant department of the University of Maryland from 1946 to 1973. When I tried to call him a month ago, his son told me he is enjoying his retirement life in Florida. In 1951, he was called in by the U.S. Army and sent to Korea. One of his missions was to build the basic training center for the Korean Army not far from Taejon.

Until 1975, the place was called Nonsan University. If a Korean boy could not pass the college entrance exam, he was drafted to the Army and sent to Nonsan. Even if he passed the exam, he had to go there four years later. Unlike four-year colleges, students there go through eight weeks of intensive training. The most important part of the training is their dormitory life. The dormitory life is a combination of many different factors, sometimes rational, but irrational most of the times. Nonsan's dormitory is a excellent model of this imperfect world. Yet, Korean boys do well there and live happily afterwards. We can all agree that it is because every Korean is born as a HIIG (Hong Ik In Gan).

It is often said that the Korean educational system transforms HIIGs into anti-HIIGs. It is also said that this is largely due to the exams. However, I am not able to see why one should become an anti-HIIG to pass the exams. If you wish to become a strong HIIG, look! There are still many places in Korea where you can learn how to become a HIIG. Nonsan Univ. is one place. But the closest place is your home. Your parents are the HIIGs. They dedicated their lives to your education. It was so stated in the front-page article of May 7 issue of the Washington Post. Americans admire the Korean educational system!

Is it then necessary to become a HIIG to be a successful physicist? Yes, if you wish to prolong your research life beyond the age 40. If you regard your research as a step stone toward a Gamtu, you do not have to be a HIIG. That is the reason why it is so difficult to find HIIGs among Korean Gamtus.


Joon Shik You (1996.5.15)
Univ. of Maryland

Just like any scientist, I have a tendency to try to explain everything. So, here I go again.

I think the problem of Anti-HIIG comes from the lack of individual concepts in Korean education. I think if there is any ingrained problem in a society, it is caused by the faulty educational system. When I say "individulal" I do not mean it as that you do whatever you want, but I mean it as pursuing one's own bliss. Bliss is what one finds oneself in when he or she is truly absorbed into something. I think, in Korean, the word "Sam-me" has the closest meaning to "Bliss".

As children go through 12 years of schooling, not many are encouraged to pursue what suits them most. Many are forced to pursue a career just to make money. Even though many bright students get good jobs as professionals, they are not content with their careers and their life in general. Many go to college just to get into college, or just to get a job. Not many think about what they really want to do in their career.

When I attended Whimoon High School in Korea, I was not encouraged to think about what kind of career I could choose. I was not even exposed to the choices of careers. All I was told was "Study and get into the Seoul National University!". When I told my teacher I was leaving the country after I got assigned to his class in the beginning of the third year in high school, he was mad, not because I was leaving Korea, but because I was leaving his class. He said "losing a student like you is not fair for me" because he gets compensated for how many of his students are admitted to the best colleges. He did not care about what students really want to do with their lives. We all know that going to college is not the best thing for everybody. If I had stayed in Korea I would have become either some engineer or a greedy medical doctor.

Students should be taught how well to live their life when they get out into the real world, rather than how to get into colleges.

I understand there is no one quick fix for the Korean education system, but it seems like the right time to change the monotonous curricula in school and allow students some opportunities to pursue what they truly want as individuals. I think HIIG is a true individualist, a leader of his/her own life.

HEALING WITH LOVE in the spirit of Hong-IK-In-Gan

Joon Shik You
[achilles@wam.umd.edu] http://www.wam.umd.edu/~achilles


Y.S.Kim (1996.5.21)

You have read an interesting article written by Mr. Joon Shik You in our previous communication. He will be the first-year graduate student in the biophysics program of the Univ. of Maryland. I like him and he has many interesting ideas in physics. In his article, he pointed out that the qualification of a Korean high school teacher is measured by the number of students he/she has sent to SNU.

It is not fair to blame any single person for transforming Korea into an Entrance-exam Hell. However, if I am forced to name one person most responsible for this mess, I would mention the name "Kim Wonkyu." He holds the top record in sending students he sent to SNU. I knew him very well because he was my high-school principal. After he died in 1969, his family set up a private institute named after him. The business was quite profitable because the word "Kim Wonkyu" was synonymous to successful entrance examination.

Let us invite another interesting person to this conversation. You all know who Kim Hogil was. He was the founding president of Pohang Univ. of Science and Tech. He spent ten years until 1978 at the Univ. of Maryland. Kim Hogil was not only a brilliant man, but also had a colorful style of talking. He often told me he knew about me better than I do, and he gave many different stories about me. I do not remember all of them, but I would like to present one interesting version to you, because it tells Kim Hogil had a deep interest in the Korean educational system many years before he became the first president of POSTECH.

He told me that he knew about me before coming to the Univ. of Maryland in 1968 (I came in 1962), and studied about me more carefully after having direct contacts with me. He then said he carefully compared me (Y.S.Kim) with Dr. Kim Myungsun (my uncle whom I mentioned in my articles) and with Principal Kim Wonkyu. I then asked him where I stand in comparison with those two gentlemen. He bluntly told me that I am nothing compared with them, and that, If I (Y.S.Kim) have anything, it is because of their influence. When I asked how much he knows about those two Kims, he said he knows much more than I do even though he never met them. As some of you know, this is the way Kim Higil used to talk. He did not always sound logical, but what he said sometimes carried a deep meaning. If he studied Kim Myungsun and Kim Wonkyu and their influence on one particular person that carefully, he was indeed interested in becoming a great educator.

Then what led Kim Hogil to go through such a thorough investigation of my connection with those two Kims? Kim Wonkyu was a very outspoken person and used to bragg about his ex-students. You can now guess whose name he mentioned most often. Kim Hogil heard about me from what Kim Wonkyu's public speaches. Even though, he was known as the "Exam Czar" among Koreans, he never praised me as an efficient exam taker. When I was in his high school, he used to praise me for my extra-curricular activities on electronics and short-wave communication.

After I came to the United States, he started praising me for "judiciously" managing my life as an "exemplary citizen" of the world. Because he was not so familiar with American or Western life style, he often made up his stories according to his educational philosophy. The point is that his ideal student is not an exam-taker, but a person who can play leading roles in the world. Kim Hogil was one of the small number of Koreans who knew this, and this is presumably why he knew Kim Wonkyu better than I do.

You are then tempted to ask Kim Wonkyu why he created this exam mess if his ultimate purpose is not the exam. Since he is not around, let me answer the question for him. Tigers are known to be ferocious animals. However, since tigers do not have wings, they can play only a limited role in the world. Koreans use the word "tiger with wings" for a superperformer. When you are fully prepared for the entrance exam, you are like a tiger. After the exam, you should build your own wings. You can start this during your freshman year. It is not too late, and you should not complain. How about the knowledge you accumulated while preparing for the exam? Keep it and use it later. I am writing many articles these days, and they are based on the knowledge I acquired during my high-school period.

There seems to one phenomenon which contradicts common sense. It is natural for people to praise the exam system when they pass, and curse the system if they fail. However, in Korea these days, the exam system is thoroughly cursed by those who pass the exam, while those who fail stay silent. According to the Washington Post article (May 7, 1996), the average cost for the exam preparation in Korea is $30,000, perhaps the highest in the world. Thus those who passed the exam should know how fortunate they are. Let us ask Kim Wonkyu again how we can deal with this problem. He will say

"If there is anyone who complains about the exam system after passing the exam, he/she should be shot to death."

Kim Wonkyu was a Spartan-style educator. We can agree that the death penalty is too severe, but we can start making progress if we stop complaining about the system. If you passed the exam, you are a tiger. Your next step is to build your wings. You would agree that Kim Wonkyu has a better solution to our problem than Harvard has.

PS. I was one of 360 boys who entered his high school in 1948. Because of the devastating war (1950-30), we had to study in roofless class rooms for one year and in temporary veneer shacks for two years. Only 250 boys were able to graduate. Yet, my class produced three Harvard PhDs, two Princeton PhDs, and one MIT PhD.


Y.S.Kim (1996.6.12)

As you know, I have been talking about Korea's entrance exam system in my earlier articles, and my conclusion was that what we have now is the best system available to us. I am ready to change the subject, but many of you have different opinions. They say that the present system kills the creativity. If I say that I have been creative even though I was a good exam taker throughout my student life, you are not likely to be impressed. Thus, I would like to talk about one of wisest persons known to us.

As I said in my earlier articles, Koreans imported a bulk of Chinese culture during the Tang dynasty which lasted from 600 AD to 900 AD. Li Po (we call him Yi Taebaek) and Tu Fu (Tu Bo) lived during this period, and their poems are well known to us. Tang's strength peaked during the reign of Emperor Hyun Chung (Hyun Jong) around 750 AD. During this period, however, a strong man named An Lyu Shan (An Rok San) staged revolt, and this was the beginning of Tang's decline.

Tu Bo was 12 years younger than Yi Taebaek, but he was a late bloomer. He wrote most of his poems after the An Rok San revolt. Tu Bo is known as the person who opened up a new era in Tang's literature. On the other hand, Yi Taebaek was an early bloomer, and summed up all the previous poets of Tang. Then the question is how Yi Taebaek was able to achieve his creativity at a relatively young age.

Yi Taebaek went into a mountain to compose poems, but decided that he was not creative enough to be a good poet. While he was coming down from the mountain after giving up the hope, he saw a white-haired woman nearly 100 years old. She was rubbing a piece of metal against a rock. Yi became curious and asked her what she was doing. The old woman said she needed a needle to make her cloths and she wanted to reduce the metal to the size of a needle. Yi Taebaek then estimated how long the woman could live, and how long it would take her to make the needle. He then realized it was not too late for him to start all over again. He went back to mountain. He was still an early bloomer.

Our young people constantly complain that they cannot be creative because our educational system. Let us accept their logic that they cannot do much else when they are preparing for the entrance exam. Then, how about after the exam? Too late? No! The key variable is whether you ever made an attempt to be creative. If you have not, you are certainly not creative. If you try, there is no guarantee that you will be creative, but it certainly is a necessary condition for your creativity. Remember this. If you wish to be creative, the variable is not the system you are going through, but the variable is how much initiative you have. It is solely up to you, not anything else, certainly not your educational system.


Y.S.Kim (1996.6.19)

Last week, we circulated an announcement for a faculty position at KAIST. Since then, we have received an addendum to this announcement saying that KAIST has its own application format. It is not uncommon for the administrators to send several revised versions of the same announcement. Indeed, most of our job announcements have their updated versions.

In order to deal with this problem, we have established a policy to make only one circulation for each announcement. Additions and corrections will be deposited into our robot without circulation. Thus, if you are really interested in the position, you should obtain the updated version by sending an email to with JOBS.KOR on your Subject line, or web http://physics.umd.edu/robot.

Since 1992, our network system made a substantial contribution toward enforcing "open and fair competition" in faculty recruiting processes. You will be interested to know that we are setting up similar network services for other countries. Many Koreans complain that I became very powerful within the Korean community by setting up this network. Let us accept their logic. Then Koreans can become very powerful in the world if we combine our effort to set up the communication system for the entire world.

In recent articles, I have been able to convince many of you that Korea's pre-college educational system is second to none in this world. In addition, armed with fully charged batteries of knowledge accumulated for the entrance exams, Koreans can become creative if

  1. they stop blaming others for their failures. If you fail, start again as Yi Taebaek did. If you fall seven times, you can rise eight times!
  2. We should stop relying on foreigners for the ultimate wisdom. If you think there is always a person smarter than you on everything, how can you be creative?
If these two conditions are met, we can start improving our environment. The most pressing problem is that Koreans should learn how to talk to fellow Koreans. More specifically, students should learn how to talk to professors, and professors should know how to talk to students.

In order to be creative, you should have new ideas. This is not enough! The concept of democracy was invented several thousand years ago, but this idea is still in a developing stage. If you have a new idea, you should develop it to be acceptable to other people. This is often the most difficult process in creativity. Isaac Newton had an idea that the center of gravity of a sphere of uniform density is the geometric center of the sphere, but it took him 20 years to prove it. In order to do this, he had to invent a new mathematics known today as integral calculus. If you do not know how to talk to others, how can you make your new idea acceptable to them?

I am a professor and my job is talking to students. I have been talking with many many students throughout the world, but it is most difficult to to talk to Korean students. They complain that I do not know how to "hide" the real issues, and they say that making the issues "naked" is not a Korean way. This indeed has been my fundamental difficulty in getting along with educated Koreans, but I have not been able to figure out how to deal with the issues by hiding them. Do you know how?

My wife once asked Murray Gell-Mann how he got the Nobel Prize. His answer was very simple. He said he always tried to understand the problem. I assume that he meant understanding the problem is the key to creativity. You are not going to understand the problem by hiding it.

From the emails I receive from many of you, I know that Korean students are eager to talk freely. However, they seem to be afraid of somebody. You should not be afraid of me. Whenever you have an idea, send me an email, and I will be very happy to make your ideas known to your fellow Koreans. Your network is ready to provide this essential service.


Imseok Yang [iyang@physics.rutgers.edu] 19-JUN-1996
Graduate Student at Rutgers University

In these days, I am working with Prof. Tom Banks on a problem on SUSY. Unfortunately, he is not my advisor and I do not think I am working for him. What I am doing is to learn from him. The situation follows: I meet him usually once or twice a week to confess what I could not understand in the article he had asked me to read. Then he explains the concepts, give me references, and give me new assignments. Because I am new in the field of SUSY, I can not understand every new terms, even the terms explained in the book by Wess. But I think I have learned much, very much considering the fact I started studying SUSY last month into account.

What I want to say is his skill in talking and moreover the amazing skill of ordinary Americans. To my thought, the most important reason I have learned much is that he do not use jargons unnecessarily, do not write much on blackboard (He usually use one blackboard in an hour without rubbing out). When I was in a cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey where I had found accidentally because I had been lost. I asked to the bartender how I could get to New Jersey turnpike. I successfully found my way following his direction. Do you think you can do this also? Of course I can not even in Korean.

One of the strength of Americans is, I think, their clear expression of their ideas in verbal English. To my best guess, they accomplish this in talking with their friends, teachers, and parents. My fellow Koreans usually do not talk with me on their idea. They need alcohol to express their ideas and I can not understand what they want to say (They can not express clearly even without alcohol. With alcohol?). One can enlarge his soul by one of the two ways, his own or others. He can think, have experience by himself. Or he can read or listen to others. The best way will be the mixing. I found that talking is very effective to accomplish the above and Americans are very good at talking.

I am trying to find what have made America better than korea. Of course there are many factors. One usual saying is that Americans are better in coworking. I think one of the reasons of this is their talking culture. Cowork is based on mutual understanding and free communication of ideas. I do not mean the rather forbidding loud voice air in Korea. I mean Koreans' lack of skill and practice of talking with others.


Y.S.Kim (1996.6.26)

If you passed your college entrance exam, the following story must be very familiar to you. Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia around 350 BC. He assembled hunters from the mountainous region to build a strong army. He then sent his troops to the East. When they reached the Punjab area (now Afghanistan and Pakistan), they became exhausted and were captured by the Punjabis army commanded by King Chandra Gupta. Those Greek POWs were allowed to live there, but were not allowed to own farm lands. The only skill they had was to make Greek-style statues. Yes, they made their living by making statues for the high-class people in the Punjab area.

During the first century, the Kandaharan Empire emerged in the Punjab region, and the Kandaharan emperor decided to rule the country using Buddhism as the ideological base. But Buddhism at that time did not allow idol warships like Judaism, and it was very difficult to persuade his people worship Buddha. The emperor then decided to make a statue of Buddha and and hired those Greek sculpturists to carry out the job. The Buddha statue then moved to Tibet, China, Korea, and then to Japan. During this process, the statue was modified by the the regional artists. To me and to you, the Korean Buddha is the most Buddha-like Buddha. Many people say that Japanese Buddhas look like Samurai.

This is what you learn while preparing for the college entrance exam. The question then is whether you are going to stop here or add some creativity to this knowledge. If you know this much, you must be interested in seeing with your own eyes the Buddha statues built by those Kandaharan Greeks. The best way is to go the City of Kandahara now in Afghanistan to dig the ground, but you do not have enough money and time to do so because you have to do physics.

The second best way is to go to a museum. Then which museum? If you were adequately prepared for the entrance exam, you should know that Britain once ruled a large portion of this world including Pakistan and Afghanistan. Thus, there must be a museum in London having a collection of Kandaharan remains. I was "creative" enough to get this idea, and the first place to visit during my first visit to London was the British Museum. There indeed was the Kandaharan Section, and I went there and found those early statues of Buddha sculptured by those Greek artists. Alas, they all look like components of the Parthenon temple. They look like Greek gods because they were made by Greek artists.

Indeed, it was one of the happiest days in my life. I became convinced that our forefathers were the only ones who knew how to make the true statue of Buddha. I also was very proud of my high-school education which led to do this "creative" research. If you are in London or visit London, please visit the British Museum, and see how talented our forefathers were. If you meet Greeks, start talking about this piece of history. They will never admit their Spartan-style troops surrendered anywhere in the world. However, if you convince them that the original Buddha statue was made by the Greeks by pointing out the evidence in the British Museum, they will proudly surrender. Our high-school system is the winner.

Creativity comes in many different ways. It comes often in the form of building a bridge between two established disciplines. When you prove theorems in Euclidean geometry, you often draw an auxiliary line but you do not derive this from anywhere else. Likewise, building a bridge between two established knowledge leads to creativity. Maxwell succeeded in filling the gap between electricity and magnetism. Einstein unified the energy-momentum relations for massive and massless particles. In so doing, he proved that mass can be converted to energy. You do not have to be as great as Maxwell or Einstein. Just look! You can always find gaps you wish to fill. If you wish to be creative, you will be. If you do not wish to be creative, you will never be.

Wisdom of Korea (1996, July -- December)


Y.S.Kim (1996.7.3)

Since I started talking about creativity, I am getting many emails from our young people insisting that the Korean educational system destroys creativity. They know very well that I do not agree with them. I do however like them because they are courageous enough to express their disagreement with me. Excellent!

Let us then ask a different question. If they think they lost their creativity, is there any way to restore it? Here is my prescription based on Richard Philip Feynman's life. I will first give you the prescription, and then explain how Feynman managed his creativity.

My prescription is very simple. Perform our traditional shaman ritual. If once is not enough, repeat and repeat until you are cured. We have traditional words: shaman = Moodang, and ritual = Goot. It appears that our young scientists are bewitched by an evil spirit suppressing their creativity. The only way for them to be creative again is to remove this evil spirit.

We can even institutionalize this Moodang Goot. During their college years, our students go through a number of festivals each year. One of them can be converted to a Creativity Goot or creativity festival. We can train our Moodangs to speak for Einstein, Dirac, or Feynman. We can then invite students from Japan and other countries to participate in this creativity activity. Prepare good food and hear nice words from the Moodangs. You will then be creative again! How does this sound to you?

Moodang? Outdated and backward! Not so. Hillary Clinton is the Queen of the United States and is regarded as one of the most intelligent women in the world. She hired Moodangs to communicate with Mohandas Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt, and she is not ashamed of what she did. If Hillary can do, why can't you do it. She did this because she had enough passion for creativity. Shamanism seems to be very strange to Americans, but not to us. For the past 5,000 years, Korean Moodangs cured many people from all kinds of diseases. It is about time for them to cure the creativity disease for our young scientists.

Let us next talk about physicists. If you think my ultimate goal is to become like Eugene Wigner, you are wrong. If you read my papers carefully, Richard Feynman is my ultimate hero. You would agree that Feynman was the most creative physicist during the post-WW2 period. With me now, I have a letter signed by Feynman on November 5, 1987, only a few weeks before he left us. The letter was a permission he was giving me and my coauthor for republication of his original parton paper. He had struggled in hospital for a long long time before he passed away, and you can guess where he signed the letter. This is one indication of how much passion Feynman had toward physics.

As you you know, Feynman invented Feynman diagrams before 1950. He was very quiet during the 1950s, and became creative again in 1964. In 1965, he published with Hibbs a book on path integrals. In 1969, he formulated the parton picture of fast-moving hadrons. In 1961, he published with his students a Phys. Rev. paper on harmonic oscillator formulation of the quark model. In 1972, he wrote a book on statistical mechanics where he summarized most of Von Newman's book into one paragraph. I am now reading his 1982 paper on quantum computing.

What did Feynman do during his quiet period 1950-1964? He struggled to be creative again! He tried many different things. His best known method was to participate in Samba festivals in Brazil. Brazilian Samba dances are not much different from our Moodang dances. While doing this, Feynamn himself became a Moodang. He used to sing like a Moodang while beating bongo drums. This was how he regained his creativity. I am not making a mistake in tell our young physicists to imitate Feynman.

Here also, I should not preach what I cannot practice. I intend to spend the forthcoming Bastille day (July 14) in Paris. Perhaps I will become creative again after participating in the Bastille Goot. Hope to see some of you there! Have a nice summer, and you will all become creative again after this summer. You promise!


8-JUL-1996 19:32:34.10

Dear Prof. Kim,

I read your article on CREATIVITY FESTIVAL with much interest. I thought that your presentation on Moodang Goot is very symbolic. To my understanding, you seem to say that the creativity comes out of freeing yourself from stereotype. I agree with you about the main message of this article. Your presentation on R. Feynman seems to miss his contributions to the condensed matter physics in the 1950's to my point of view.

In the condensed matter community, Feynman is very well-known for his articles on Rotons in He4, Polaron theory, and superfluidity in general (1953-1956). His way of presenting the various subjects are genuinely intuitive. He also had a continuing interest in superconductivity, until `BCS' theory was developed. Since then, he went on to the other fields.

Certainly his way of refreshing himself such as participating in Samba festivals must have been an impetus for such a creativity.

Best regards,

Kyungsun Moon
Department of Physics
University of California
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: (916) 752-1789, Fax: (916) 752-4717
E-mail: kmoon@onsager.ucdavis.edu


Y.S.Kim (1996.8.2)

Have you heard of military victories scored by French armed forces? Ask Frenchmen. They will tell you they won both World War I and WWII. How about Napoleon's defeats in his Russian excursion and in the battle of Waterloo? Look at their Arch of Triumph honoring Napoleon! How about the Franco-Prussian War and the battle of Dien Vien Pu in Vietnam? They never heard of those minor events.

In Paris, on the 14th day of July every year, the French Army conducts their annual military parade which lasts for two hours. The parade is headed by the President of France, then followed by thousands of mounted "soldiers" on their horses. They do not carry rifles but swords. As the parades progresses, rifle-carrying soldiers appear and then armored vehicles. They all look handsome and stylish.

The parades starts at 10:00 AM. In order to see this famous show, I went to the parade route at 8:40 AM, but the crowd was already thick. There were four persons ahead of me. By 10:00 AM. The crowd was about about 12-thick. There were many foreigners, like myself, including many Germans who would not have much respect the battle performances of the French Army.

What is the point of all this? The sword-carrying uniformed persons looked like soldiers at one time in history, but not now. They are Moodangs. Their role is to make Frenchmen to think France is the biggest military power on earth. Is this true? The answer is partially Yes.

The armed forces of almost all the countries rely on the United States for military wisdom, including military hardware, command structure, logistic operation, and computer software. It is well known that the Soviet Union built their first nuclear bomb using the secret stolen from the U.S. We constantly talk about the Soviet-made tanks used by Kim Il-Sung's army in 1950. Russians built those tanks using the suspension system (tanks are heavy!) developed by American engineer. The Korean Air Force used to use the inventory forms of the U.S.Air Force even without changing the word U.S.Air Force to Korean Air Force.

Not so for the French armed forces. Everything there is French. Indeed, the French aircraft industry is competing well with the U.S. counterpart. France is not a member of NATO, and is quite independent of the U.S. domination based on its nuclear umbrella. Yes, France is likely to lose if there is another battle between France and Germany. Yet, the difference is that the German pilots are trained in the United States, and the French pilots are trained in France. Then which country will be more assertive in dealing with the United States?

I met a man from Chicago in the crowd watching the parade. We commented on droppings left by the horses used in the parade. They give out not-so-beautiful smell. He said the whole show is like those droppings. If you lived in the United States for more than one year, you should know what this means. The French military show is not more than a Moodang show from our point of view. Yet, it lifts the spirit of French men and women.

Let us return to the question of creativity. I received many negative comments on my article recommending Moodang rituals to restore our creativity. Some said I am showing a Nomang sign. Some asked me whether I believe in superstition. If I am so wrong, please tell us how to become creative. In the meantime, we can agree on how not to be creative: to blame others.


Y.S.Kim (1996.8.6)

It appears that Korean institutions are posting their position announcements in their WWW pages. Indeed, we are prepared for this new trend.

You will recall that we have a file containing major research institutions in Korea. To make a long story short, let us try one concrete example.

Web [http://physics.umd.edu/robot/kor.html] for the Korea page of our robot system. Then go to the page containing institutions in Korea. Click "Yonsei University" to find out how to apply for their new faculty positions. Please tell your friends about this program.

We should improve our system along this line. Even though an institution sets up a beautiful web page, it is useless until people visit the page. This means that we still need a "junk-mail" system in order to tell every prospective candidate to look at the position announcement posted recently by Yonsei University. Please let us know if you have "creative" ideas along this line.


Y.S.Kim (1996.8.9)

As you can see, our job network system faces two new challenges. One is an expanded use of the WWW system. The other is how to make the system available to non-physicists friends. We are moving very smoothly into the WWW age. However, helping others is a very strange custom for modern Koreans, especially among highly-educated Koreans. Let us look at the following problem carefully.

Yonsei University is hiring 178 new faculty members the 1997 academic year, and this information is available from the web page. Korean physicists are talking about two positions in the physics department. How about 176 new positions? This is a great opportunity for us. We are in a unique position to make this information available to all interested parties. This is not like taking entrance exams.

For instance, if an excellent candidate in biology gets the information from you, this will not decrease your probability of getting a position at the physics department. This is an excellent investment. If both you and your friend join the university in this manner, you are already building a faculty support base when you run for the university president 20 years later. Helping others is a profitable business!

Here again, I do not preach what I cannot practice. I am known to have a peculiar personality. I sometime look very selfish, but I appear to be an old-fashioned person who tries to help others. Koreans have a notion that one has to completely sacrifice him/herself to help others. Shim Chung sacrifices her life in order to open her father's eyes. I am not Shim Chung. I help others to make profit.

For instance, I developed a computer mail system (commonly called yskim's junk-mail system) in order to support a small number of conferences for which I played organizational roles. However, my system was capable of supporting other conferences including those run by my professional enemies. Yes, I helped others in order to make profit. If you are interested in how much profit I am making, send an email to with CONFMEU on your Subject line.


Y.S.Kim (1996.8.11)

Three years ago, Japan's NHK TV showed a program about the wildlife status along the Korean demilitarized zone, including the line along the southern coast of Hwanghae Province. There is one battalion of the Korean Marine Corps stationed in the Baek-Nyun Island, and fishing boats from the South are frequently kidnapped by North Korean gunboats. The NHK TV team went very close to the cease-fire line, and looked toward the north. They were able to see with their naked eyes some of the landmarks I used to see when I was a child.

Yes, I spent my first eleven years in a small farming/fishing village on the southern coast of Hwanghae Province. It was 1939 or 40 when a high-nosed American man came to my house with a roofless car. He took members of my family and drove along unpaved country roads to a mountain place. I was hopelessly young at that time and did not know why my mother and other grown-ups were weeping. I later learned that the place was my grandmother's grave site, and the driver was Horace Underwood II known to Koreans as Dr. Won Han-Kyung. Dr. Won who was the founding president of Yonsei University. At that time, Yonsei was called Yonhee Professional School by Koreans and Chosum Christian College (CCC) by Americans.

I recall that Dr. Wong had three sons. The eldest son is called Il-Han and he devoted his life to Yonsei University. In addition, he had two twin sons. One of them was called Yo-Han and had been a church minister in Korea until he passed away recently. I met him at Princeton in 1959 while he was spending a sabbatical year at Princeton Theological Seminary. When I met him, he knew my name and I was very happy.

The other twin son was called Je-Han. I have his name in my telephone book as James Underwood (Tel: 716-948-9411). He was a church minister in a small town in Upstate New York. I called him in 1981 to tell him that his elder brother, Il-Han, was publishing a series of memoirs in Hankook Ilbo. From his memoirs, I found out the roofless car I was riding in 1939 or 40 was a Chrysler convertible.

I recall that Dr. Won Han-Kyung received his PhD degree in education from New York University. He was a scholar, but he was a quite venturous person. When I was talking to Je-Han, we talked about the stylish house he built near my childhood village. He was also very fond of building boats. He used one of his boats to "commute" between Seoul (Yang-Hwa-Jin) and his summer resort house in my childhood village. He lifted up one of his boats to the lake at the top of the Baek-du Mountain. According to Won Il-Han's memoirs, he was also fond of tiger-hunting.

Dr. Won Han-kyung was both stylish and creative. I would say that he was quite similar to Richard Feynman. Undoubtedly, his personality was transmitted to many of the early Yonsei graduates. They used to be somewhat different from stereotype Koreans. We used to use the word "Yondae Goendal" to describe them. Unfortunately we do not see those Goendals anymore. Yonsei is now talking about becoming a world-class elite university. Before achieving this goal, Yonsei should revive its traditional Goendalism.

Dr. Won Han-Kyung's wife was assassinated by a group of communists in 1949, and Dr. Won died in Pusan in 1951. His father, knwon to us as Won Doo-Woo Moksa, came to Korea in 1985 as the first Presbyterian missionary. It is my understanding that the fourth generation Underwoods are very active in Korea.

Let us go back to the original question. Why did Dr. Won Han-Kyung drive his car to my grandmother's grave site? It is clear from his personality that he was interested in showing his new car to my grandma even though she was in her grave. What then was my grandma to him?. She was a nameless, ordinary, humble, and uneducated Korean lady just like your great grandmother. I will continue the story next time. If you are impatient about what I was going to say, send an email to with NORTH.KOR on your Subject line.


Y.S.Kim (1996.8.14)

Why did Dr. Underwood visit my grandmother's grave? As I said before, she was a very ordinary Korean woman. During the evenings, she was wearing thick glasses to read her "Unmoon" bible. She spent most of her daytime at the church known as "Sorae Kyohyoe" to Christian historians. Those historians say that this was Korea's first church and was established in 1884, but the Sorae villagers started conducting Sunday services from 1983. The first service was conducted on a sand beach near Sorae, and the minister was sitting on a Korean carpet called "Mungsuk". This historic Mungsuk was in my house until 1946.

I will tell you the minister's name and where he came from in a later article. He was a Korean. The first Underwood is known to us as "Won Doo-Woo Moksa," and he came to Inchon in 1985. He was originally from a Presbyterian church in Brooklyn, New York. In 1960, the church conducted a special service honoring him, and I was invited to attend, and I did. Soon after Underwood came to Korea in 1885, he heard the rumor that there was a church at a village named Sorae. He then bought a horse, and went there with two pouches on his horse. One of them contained medicines, and the other contained something historically and academically important. I think, by now, I have established myself as a competent history writer, and it is about time for me to talk about the content of the other pouch. I will do so next time.

Let us get back to my grandmother. These days, women's role is well defined in churches. They do everything, and men only do politics. But at the time of my grandma, women had to stay home. They certainly were not allowed to tell men what to do. Thus, it is not difficult to guess what "revolutionary" role my grandmother played in Korea's first church. Then what strength did she have to set up a church organization? The answer is very simple. She was very kind and helpful to everybody.

My grandparents were somewhat younger than the first Underwood, and their first son [Dr. Kim Myung-Sun who devoted his life to Severance Hospital and Severance Medical College] was somewhat younger than the second Underwood, known to us as Dr. Won Han-Kyung. She undoubtedly was very kind to Dr. Won, and this was one of the reasons why he visited her grave. But the fundamental reason was her achievement in constructing the church congregation. She transformed the entire village of Sorae into a Christian village. Sorae used to be a very superstitious village, and that is the reason why the Moodang idea came to me when I was talking about Korean creativity.

Remember this. Dr. Underwood visited my grandmother's grave not because she was kind to an American, although she was. He did it because she was very kind to her fellow Koreans. Indeed, he visited my grandmother in order to allow her grandson (myself) to say the following harsh words to some of the "world-class" physicists in Korea.

Whenever I attend conferences these days, I meet many Americans and Europeans who tell me that they have been to Korea and that Korea's economy seems to be great. They say this because their entire expenses were paid by Korean taxpayers. When I ask them who invited them, they usually say "a short fellow with a bold head" or "short fellow named Kim but every Korean is Kim." On the other hand, those Korean hosts talk as if their American friends would visit their graves after they die. If they really want those Americans visit their graves, they should spend Korean taxpayers' money on Koreans and build a healthy Korean physics community, as in the case of my grandmother.


Y.S.Kim (1996.9.14)

I came back on Sept. 2 (1996) after attending a conference on symmetry problems in condensed matter physics. The purpose of my trip was to join a group of physicists who are interested in using group theoretical methods in condensed matter physics. I was also interested in putting down some European physicists who think they can take away my Wignership from me.

As you know, there are many Koreans who want to take away this network system from me. They always present to me "gamtu" tables where they rank higher than I do. Their problem is of course that they do not know how much work is involved in maintaining the system. Since Wigner was born in Huangay and studied in Germany, it is natural for some Europeans to think Wigner belongs to their world and to nobody else. They play some funny games on me, but it is not difficult for me put them down because I published seven papers with Wigner.

Let us now talk about Poland. Indeed, the people of Poland are like Koreans. They are kind and patriotic. Like us, they become romantic when they see the full moon. They eat "pirogi" which we call "mandu" (Mongolian influence). They also like Frederick Chopin and his piano music. Like us, they have a very high ethical standard.

Poland started as an agricultural country during the 10th century, and has therefore a long history compared with other European countries. For this reason, they have a class separation like us. In our language, Yangban and non-Yangban. Most of the Polish immigrants who came to the United States were non-Yangbans, and this is the reason why there are some unflattering Polish jokes in America. Educated Polish people are still Yangban conscious. Thus, when you go out with Polish girls, you have to stress that you came from Korea's Yangban class. Otherwise they will run away from you.

Whenever I talk with my Polish colleagues in Poland, they tell me that I came there to "spy" something from Poland, and they are right. Koreans and Poles are almost the same people. I can even venture to say that Koreans do everything better than Poles can. But there is one thing Poles know but we do not. The people of Poland know how to get Nobel prize while Koreans still do not. This is the secret I wanted to "steal" from Poland.

I made this confession to one of my Polish friends named Waldemar Gorzkowski. He told me that I am not the only one who thinks in this way. He also has the same idea, and even visited Korea twice to teach Koreans how to get Nobel prize. He told me he met many Korean physics teachers including Prof. Shin Hee Myung of SNU's College of Education. I told him I know Prof. Shin very well because he spent one year at the Univ. of Maryland, and he is a very kind person.

Prof. Gorzkowski runs an international program entitled "First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics." This is an annual international competition in research projects in physics for high-school students. In order to enter this competition, the candidate has to conduct an independent and original research. He/she then has to write an article in English. Every year, from about 150 articles submitted from various countries, less than 10 articles are selected for publication in a special issue of Acta Physica Polonica which is the journal of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The authors of these articles are invited to spend one month or longer in Poland with Polish research groups.

Remember this. If you are a physicist, you are also a physics teacher. It is your responsibility to produce younger physicists better than you. If you are a Korean physicist, you are responsible for producing Nobel-winning younger physicists. If you are interested in Gorzkowski's program, you may send your email to . Prof. Gorzkowski's office is in the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Let us go back to the original question. What secret do Poles have to get Nobel prizes? I will address this issue next time. This also has something to do with the Underwood story which I promised to continue.


Y.S.Kim (1996.9.16)

As I promised earlier, I am going to tell you why Polish intellectuals have been able to earn Nobel prizes for their country. I think I have already given the answer to this question in my earlier articles, but let me say again.

I met a Polish man for the first time in the dining hall of Princeton's Graduate College in 1958. At that time, John Foster Dulles was the Secretary of State, and talking to a man from a communist country was unthinkable. I asked him how he was able to come to the United States from Poland. He said he was invited by Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs, and that the School invites routinely two or three scholars every year to assert Woodrow Wilson's role in the independence of Poland. I then asked him what role Wilson played. He asked me whether I heard about Wilson's 14-point peace plan. I said Yes. He then told me that the unification and independence of Poland are clearly mentioned in Wilson's 14-point declaration.

This is a big surprise to me. Like all Koreans, I used to think Wilson was the godfather of our 3.1 movement. It was a shock to me to realize that Wilson did not even mention Korea, while Poland was so dear to him. I felt betrayed but went through the following reasoning.

First. Poland is in Europe and Korea is in Asia. The United States gives preferential treatment to Europeans.

Second. Not so. Poland at that time had two Nobel Laureates, namely Maria Sklawdowska Curie about whom you know well and Henryk Sienkiewicz who wrote "Quo Vadis." Thus, Poland was important to Wilson while Korea was not. This was my line of thinking until 1980.

Third. Not necessarily so. Two Polish generals, namely Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Jerzy Pulaski, helped George Washington when he was staging the independence war against Britain. This was my thinking until last year.

Fourth. After visiting Poland last year, I found that Wilson is not a significant figure in Poland.

Fifth. While I was in Poland, I made a great discovery. I found out how stupid I have been. One country's independence has nothing to do with a president of another country. The people of Poland has a great respect for the United States, but Wilson has nothing to do with the independence of Poland. They clearly know what the word "independence" stands for. That is why they were able to take the first bold step in tearing down the Iron Curtain. This is also how they are able to do creative work for Nobel prize.

I have been able to impress a number of young Koreans by preaching "independence" through this email network. You can now see how imperfect I have been in the past. Yet, another curious question could be why I mention Nobel prize so often. In the following, I will tell you my own story, and then tell you that the story is also applicable to you.

I spent six months in Korea after my high-school graduation. The Korean constitution clearly states Korea is a democratic republic. In 1954, however, Korea was a "bribe republic." When I was processing my passport to the United states, there were no written laws governing foreign travel of draft-age persons. The only law was how much money one can give illegally to government officials. When the officials were delaying my passport processing, I knew clearly the reason. I was determined not to obey the bribe law.

Instead, I openly threatened to become a communist. At that time, you could become a chunk of "ground beef" if not shot to death on site for saying things like that. However, Korea's political leadership decided to let me go. The No. 2 man in the Ministry of Internal Affairs told me to go to the United States and never come back without Nobel prize. It was before the Park Chung Hee revolution, and the Internal Affairs Ministry was in charge of the most of the tasks KCIA used to do, including police, internal and external securities, and fixing up the elections.

I do not remember the name of the No. 2 man (vice minister), and he said "never come back without -- " entirely as a passing remark. Yet, you would agree that he was a stylish person even though he was a member of a corrupt government. You would agree also that he was speaking for the entire nation. He was telling me personally, but he could have said the same thing to every promising young student. He could have said "never come back without -- " to you also.

The point is that it is completely up to you how seriously you would take "never come back without -- ." In my case, I have been obeying this order. I have never been back to Korea since I left the country in 1954. I am looking for comrades. Please contact me if your thinking is the same as mine.


Y.S.Kim (1996.9.17)

The first day of March in 1919 was King Kojong's funeral day, and the 3.1 up-rising has nothing to do with an American president. To Korean physicists, their American friends are much dearer to themb than their Korean colleagues are, even though their dear high-nosed buddies do not remember their names.

If I start listing specific cases, the list will be endless. There is however one example which I have been planning to mention for sometime. We can all agree that the most creative work Koreans did was the creation of Hangul. We are not saying that the research carried out by Sejong's academicians was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, but we are very close to saying so.

Korean-language dictionaries usually carry all the names of the U.S. presidents, but they do not tell who Sejong was. Do you know which book was the first Hangul book which is still read widely? It is the Hangul version of the Bible. This book contributed substantially in forcing Koreans to use Hangul. Otherwise, we would still be writing government memoranda in Chinese. Then do you know who wrote the Hangul Bible?

Most Koreans say God wrote the Hangul version. This is a disgusting answer from the academic point of view. The prevailing view is that, if written by human beings, it was written by American missionaries, probably by the eldest Underwood. Many people also say that the Sorae church (Korea's first) was also built by Underwood. In 1984, Koreans went through the 100th anniversary of Korea's first Protestant church, and it was somewhat a noisy year. But they never clarified these two important issues (who built the church and who wrote the Bible), simply because it is contrary to the prevailing trend for Koreans to say Koreans did anything original.

When I attended a Sunday service held at a Presbyterian church in 1990, the church was celebrating the 100th birth year of their most successful alumnus. His name was Horace Underwood who came to Korea in 1885. From this, we can compute Underwood's age when arrived. He was only 25 years old, not old enough to learn the Korean language to translate the Bible. Underwoo's descendents never claimed their family's role in the Bible translation.

On the other hand, Underwood understood clearly the importance of the Bible and made a important contribution toward the distribution of the book. His uncle was one of the pioneers of typewriter industry, and some of you will remember seeing or using typewriters carrying the Underwood trade mark. As the desk-top PC is a derivative of main-frame computers, the desk-top typewriter was developed first as a derivative of big printing machines. For this reason, Underwood had a good sense of printing business and made a substantial contribution toward mass-production of the Korean Bible.

Before coming to Korea in 1885, Underwood spent one year in Japan in order to become familiar with Korea and Koreans. There he met a Korean named Lee Soo-Jung, who went to Japan in 1882 as a member of the Korean delegation headed by Park Young-Hyo. There he contacted Japanese Christians and stayed there. I have now with me a photo showing a white-dressed Lee Soo-Jung with about fifty black-dressed Japanese Christians. There he started translating the Bible into Korean. Soon after Underwood met Lee, he hastily printed what was available at that time. He printed the four Gospels of the New Testament in separate booklets, like preprints.

When Underwood came to Sorae, he came with two horse-mounted pouches. As I said before, one of them contained medicines. The other contained Lee Soo-Jung's Gospel booklets. These booklets were in my childhood house, and I saw them with my own eyes.

Then the question is whether Lee Soo-Jung's booklets constituted the first edition of the Hangul Bible? The answer is No. The first version was written in Hamkyung Saturi. I will continue next time.

From: MX%"dsyoo@ion.ucl.ac.uk" 16-SEP-1996 08:29:19.14
To: MX%"yskim@nscpmail.physics.umd.edu"
Subj: I want to be Corean not Korean

Dear Prof Kim,

---- Personal Greetings deleted ------

I went to the British Museum to guide professors from Korea last week. Since they did not have enough time to everything there, I guided them essential parts of the museum. One of them was the first stamp of our country in 19C.

I found one interesting thing there: the name of our country was printed as COREA not KOREA! It did not surprise me because I have heard an unauthorized story that the Japanese colonial government changed our country's name from COREA to KOREA since 'C' for "COREA" appears before 'J' for "Japan" in alphabetical order. It sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

As you may know, it is very odd to use 'K' to pronounce /k/ sound instead of 'C' in English - this is from an expert on phonetics, eg, Coca Cola instead of Koka Kola in English. Even further evidence was that our country's name in the old map of 18C appeared as COREA - What a coincidence!

Whether the story is true or not, we called ourselves COREAN in English at the beginning and I think it's time to get back our country's original name in English.

What do you think?


YOO, Done-Sik (Mr) Department of Medical Physics & Bioengineering
University College London
Shropshire house, 11-22 Capper Street
London WC1E 6JA, UK


Y.S.Kim (1996.10.19)

Whenever I talk with my Japanese colleagues and friends, I always say that Japanese are extremely creative but the trouble is that they do not know how creative they are. I have one Japanese lady friend who totally disagrees with me. According to her, everything Japanese is perfect and I am too stupid to understand Japan's high culture. I like her and I still enjoy listening to her. However, most of my Japanese friends agree with me. They say that, though I say is true, not many people say as bluntly as I do.

They then ask me how I know so well about Japan. My answer to them is very simple. I know about their strength and weakness because Koreans are exactly like Japanese. Indeed, I have been talking about our weakness for sometime. Recently I have been talking about who translated the Bible into Korean. The fact is that we do not know and we do not care. The reason is that it was carried out by Koreans.

In my previous article, I said the Gospel booklets Underwood brought to Korea was based on the translation carried out by Lee Soo-Jung in Japan. However, when Underwood came to Sorae in 1885, the villagers were already using the Bible written in Hangul. The Sorae Bible then became the first Hangul Bible. Then who wrote the Sorae Bible?

In Cambridge (England) in 1993, I spent one evening with a young Korean student named Chang Heon-Young. He is now Dr. Chang and is at Yonsei Univ. in the Dept. of Astronomy. In 1993, he asked me why the first edition of the Korean Bible was written in Hamkyung Saturi. I told him that I believed that the first edition was in Pyong-Pook Saturi but I could be wrong. I promised to him that I would do some research and produce the answer to his question.

Historians say that the Bible translation was carried out by John Ross and John Macintire from Scotland, who came to the Manchurian City of Woochang in 1872. Their effort was assisted by four Koreans named Kim Jin-Kee, Paik Hong-Joon, Lee Sung-Ha, and Lee Eun-Chan. Thus, the First Edition is often called the Ross Edition. Historians also say that the translation was done from Chinese to Korean. If those two Scottish missionaries were the true translators, why did they not translate from the King James Version instead from Chinese? If you are a normal Korean, you should raise the suspicion that those four Korean "assistants" did the real hard work of translation. If this was the case, we have the historical obligation to promote those four Koreans from the rank of "assistants" to "great translators."

The translation team was later joined by two brothers named Seo San-Yoon and Seo Kyung-Jo. The translation is one thing, but rewriting the translation into a literary work is another matter. Seo Sang-Yoon knew how to write. I now have with me the original King James Version, and am looking at Matthew Chapter Seven. Verse 7 says: ASK, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it will be opened unto you. Verse 8 says: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. I would then like to invite the Hangul version of the same verses. You will then become convinced that Jesus spoke Korean when he was giving his sermons.

The Seo brothers came to Sorae in 1883 and opened the Sorae Church. Prof. Min Kyung-Bae of Yonsei University wrote one of the most popular books on the history of Korean churches. He was born and raised in the town called Chang-Yon. Chang-Yon looks very close to Sorae in the map, but the two places were separated by a tiger-infested mountain. For this reason, Prof. Min thinks Seo Sang-Yoon was born in Sorae, and so states in his book. This is not true. To Sorae villagers, the Seo brothers were born in EuiJoo (Pyong-Pook Province) because they came from there as Prof. Min says in his book. Min's book strongly indicates that the citizens of Euijoo were not friendly to Seo because he was not born there.

Then where is the true birth place of Seo Sang-Yoon? I now have with a book consisting of articles written by Sorae villagers who now live in Seoul. According to this book, the Seo brothers were originally merchants whose home base was located in Eastern Manchu, close to our Hamkyung Province. This is consistent with the fact that most of Koreans named Seo came from Hamkyung Province at that time. Seo Sang-Yoon spoke Hamkyung Saturi, and this is the reason why the First Edition of the Hangul Bible was written in Hamkyung Saturi.

I hope I answered the question which Dr. Chang Heon-Young raised in 1993. I have written many articles in the past, but this was the most difficult one to write, perhaps because I am not a professional historian. If our historians had enough sense, I would not have to go through this painful step. Korean historians never give any credit to any Koreans. They always praise foreigners. We often complain that Japanese are distorting our history. I watch Japanese TV programs carefully whenever they talk about us. Yes, there are some biased views, but Japanese in general give far more credit to Korean creativity than we do to ourselves.


Y.S.Kim (1996.10.25)

As many of you know, Japan's Kawabata Yasunari received the 1968 Nobel Prize in literature. If you ask your Japanese friends how he got the Prize, they are likely to be completely lost. Before 1968, nobody in Japan knew he was that great.

I do not know how many of you have read his prize-winning work entitled "Yukiguni" (snow country). This Novel deals with a woman's life in a town near Niigata (north of Tokyo), and you get an impression that Kawabata copied the story from "Une Vie" (a woman's life) written by a famous French writer named Guy de Maupassant. If he did, it is not surprising at all because he used to belong to a klan of Japanese writers influenced by the French literature from 1,850 AD to the end of World War I.

While I was in Japan last month, I told one of my Japanese friends that Japanese are creative, but they do not know how creative they are. He agreed and started talking about Kawabata. He said it was French writers who discovered Kawabata's creativity. I assume that those French writers were able to see that Kawabata added a new dimension to Maupassant's Une Vie. Kawabata's new dimension is of course based the traditional Japanese value, perhaps a hidden value of Japan.

I of course have my own view of what Kawabata addresses so powerfully in his Yukiguni, but I should stop here. I am not really in a position to make professional comments on literary works. However, I know at least two cases in physics where Japanese physicists have been very creative but have not been able to recognize their own creativity. I am a blunt person, but I am tactful enough to say right things at right times. I hope to be able to talk about these issues in the future.


Y.S.Kim (1996.10.29)

Many of you asked me why Japan is a snow country while Korea is not. I will be very happy to answer this question because this allows me once again to talk about my high-school years.

In 1953, I looked at a collection of entrance exam problems given by Japanese universities. The problems were difficult, but there was one problem which I could not solve. The problem states

  1. During the winter, snow gets accumulated on the mountain tops facing the Sea of Japan (East Sea from our point of view).
  2. During the summer, Tokyo becomes very hot.
The problem then asks how the wintertime snow can be used to make Tokyo houses cool during the summer time.

My first reaction to this problem was to transport the snow to Tokyo by trucks. My second reaction then was the snow will melt during the transportation. I was frustrated and asked one of my teachers who studied in Japan. He looked at the problem and told me that this used to be a standard problem in Japan before 1942, and that the problem used to be about heating up hair dryers in women's beauty shops. He then guessed that air conditioners also eat up a large amount of electricity. Air conditioners were not common in Korea at that time, and I assume they started becoming popular in Japan after 1953.

As you know, Japan consists of a long chain of mountains. One side faces the Pacific Ocean, and the other side faces Siberia. Thus, Japan consists of two different weather zones. You can now understand why their northwestern slopes are subject to heavy snow during the winter time. As you probably know, snow serves as a reservoir of water. Thus, Japanese can use the rivers flowing from the mountain tops to the Sea of Japan (our East Sea) to drive hydro electric generators.

When I tell this story to young Japanese, they dismiss it by saying that Japan no longer gets electricity from hydro stations, even though this may have been true when their country was not rich. I of course know how Japanese produce their electricity these days. I also know that Japan is the only country doing research on reactors using plutonium fuel. However, I talk about this entrance exam problem because it still teaches many lessons to both Japanese and Koreans.

  1. This problems tells about the important weather pattern in Japan and enriches our knowledge about our neighbor. By the way, Japan's weather affects Korea's weather, and vice versa.
  2. Think of the burdensome wintertime life for those Japanese who live in their snow country. Karate looked deeply into one woman's life there. You can even produce a Nobel prize from this weather.
  3. This entrance exam problem tells about the entrance exam system Koreans are always complaining about. This is an important point, and let me elaborate.
Koreans go through a burdensome life before taking their entrance exams (like heavy snow during the winter time). However, after the exam (during the summer time), it is up to each individual to design his/her own device which will transform the accumulated knowledge (snow) into a new form of knowledge (electricity) which can serve many useful purposes.

By the way, the Japanese entrance exam system is very similar to ours, and there are embarrassingly many private institutes which provide private lessons to those who are dying to enter their first-class universities. When I was in Japan last month, I dropped in one of those institutes and asked how they operate. The administrators thought I was crazy first, but they became very polite when I told them I am from the United States and am a professor. They said it costs from $10,000 to $30,000 per year to tutor a young boy or girl who wants to enter a medical college. I then asked them whether the entrance is guaranteed if the candidates spends that much money. They said NO, but they said also that they choose their students carefully. Like Korea, Japan seems to be an entrance-exam hell. However, my point is about the attitude of those who passed their entrance exams. I do not know about Japanese students, but I know about Korean students. They should know how fortunate they are, and should stop complaining about the system.

American newspapers frequently praise the Korean educational system for cultivating a generation of Koreans who transformed an oxcart-making country into a high-tech country. It appears that Koreans are the only people in this world who cannot appreciate their own educational system.


Y.S.Kim (1996.10.31)

Most of you know how the main hall of Moscow State University looks. It is one of the six Stalin towers in Moscow which are not so stylish these days. Yet, the building is well built, and Russians are not ready to tear it down.

On the walls of the main lobby of that building, there are the plaques of a number of selected wisemen in history. I assume that the selection was made during the communist era. Last year, when I was there, one of those wisemen caught my eyes because he looks like my grandfather. The caption of course was written in Russian but I can read Russian (though not too well) and was able to recognize his name as Chu Shee. We call him "Chu Hee" and he was a scholar during the Sung (we call Song) dynasty around 1,200 AD. He lived in the area now called Fukien Province (we call Bok-Keon Sung).

As you know, Chu Hee combined the Confucian ethics and the Taoism practiced by the Tang dynasty to create an ideology we usually call Chuja-Hak or Sungri-Hak. This ideology started coming into Korea 700 hundred years ago, and there was a great political revolution 600 years ago and the Yi-Jo dynasty was set up. This ideology went to Japan when we had many Japanese "visitors" 400 years ago.

The first emperor of the China's Ming (we call Myung) Dynasty is known to us as a very strong man eating one ton of rice each time. His name was also Chu, and many people say that he was a descendent of Chu Hee. I have a Chinese friend who claims to be a descendant of Both Chu Hee and Chu Won-Jang. However, the Ming Dynasty was quite corrupt, and Korea was the only country which rigorously followed the ideology of Chu Hee.

I am mentioning this not because Chu Hee's plaque is in the main hall of Moscow State University, but because it is the world order of the academic world. I got a tenure position at the Univ. of Maryland because I satisfied the necessary condition of Confucianism. I was able to approach Eugene Wigner and Paul Dirac because I knew how to treat elderly people according to Confucius. There are many Korean scholars of my age staying in the United States. They are able to swim in international waters because they know how to practice Confucianism.

Today, one of my colleagues (professor) at the Univ. of Maryland came to me and told me he was sorry for not being able to honor a request from a Korean student (not in physics) to write down what is not true, so that he could get more money. I told him he should not feel sorry for me. The only way to make me happy is to punish him harshly because he is not the type of Korean I want to associate with. This kind of practice is not uncommon among Korean students in the United States.

All right. Students can make mistakes. How about grown-ups? Those students say that they are corrupt because grown-ups are corrupt. Even worse, if they do not do well in research, our students blame Confucius. This is totally ridiculous. If they obey Confucius, they can perhaps blame him. But those who make the complaint are those who are most disobedient to Confucius.

To sum up, the Confucian tradition is one of our best assets, but we thoroughly curse this asset. We have to change if we are interested in catching up with the rest of the world.


Y.S.Kim (1996.11.7)

I came back from a brief trip to Boston. What is new there? Boston University now has a very ambitious opto-electronics program and is planning to invest nearly $100 million into the program. If you are studying optics, you should know about the book entitled "Photonics" written by Saleh and Teich. Both of these characters are there now. Many Korean students these days want to study optics, and I would like to encourage them to take into account this interesting development.

As I usually do when I visit Boston, I looked at new books at bookstores near the Harvard campus. This time, I saw many books having to do with Taoism and Confucianism. I asked the store managers whether this is a new trend or an old phenomenon which I did not notice before. The managers said this is definitely a new trend, and these books are popular among business men who want to open their market in Asia.

I also talked with a number of Korean students. I was interested in how they react to my articles. One of them told me that he considered seriously hiring a Moodang to recover his creativity. I told him he will get his creativity back if he needs it so badly. All of them told me they enjoy my stories about Japan. I then asked them whether I am a pro-Japanese or anti-Japanese. They said that this question does not arise in my articles. Yes! This is the way we should approach our problem with our closest neighbor.

Last time, I talked about Chu Hee and his influence on us. Today, I would like to talk about Chuja Hak in Japan. As you know, Japanese troops stormed Korea 400 years ago, and stayed in Korea for seven years. During this period, they kidnapped a number of Korean Chuja-Hak scholars to Japan, who then initiated the Japanese school of Shushi Kaku (the same Chinese characters as Chuja Hak). Indeed, Korea's Chuja Hak served as Japan's political ideology during the their Edo or Tokugawa era which lasted from 400 AD to 1870 AD.

However, Japan used their Shushi Kaku quite differently from the way we did. Like us, Japan's Tokugawa klan maintained the closed-door policy to Westerners. On the other hand, they used their Shushi Kaku to regulate the inflow of Western ideas an technology. Among the Western countries, they chose Holland (which is still called "Oranda" in Japan) and the sole Western trade partner and used the port of Nagasaki as the sole trading port. Japanese were able to resist reckless Western pressure because they had their own Shushi Kaku

After 1870, Japan rapidly became Westernized. This process is called the Meiji Yisin (called Myongchi Yusin in Korea). Throughout this process and even after the Meiji era, the Japanese government maintained an office on Shushi Kaku in order to check whether things were going properly. They did not throw away their Confucianism, unlike our young people.

Indeed, Japanese were able to use our Chuja Hak or their Shushi Kaku to Westernize their country. It is not surprising because the content of Chujak Hak is quite consistent with Western pragmatism. I can argue that Thomas Edison is a product of the Chuja-Hak school, but it will not be easy for me to make you agree with me. However, we can agree on the point that Japan's orderly transition to the Western system has its root in their Shuhi Kaku.


Y.S.Kim (1996.11.12)

When I write articles, I do not write. I directly type into the computer and skip proof reading. For this reason, my make many errors. The most common error is the typographical error. Another common error is date. For instance, I said once that John F. Kennedy made his "Ask not --" speech on January 21, 1961. The correct date was January 20. Last year, I said Kim Koo's funeral was held on July 9, 1949. According to a recent newspaper report in connection with Ahn Doo-Hee's death, the funeral was held on July 5. I am not yet ready to admit my error. For these cases, my errors do not change the contents of the articles.

However, last time, I made a very serious error. I said Japan's Edo era started from 400 AD. What I wanted to say was it started 400 years ago. The Edo or Tokugawa or era started from 1600 AD after Toyotomi Hideyoshi died and Japanese withdrew their troops from Korea. The punishment for making this error seems to be to write another article on Japan.

I do not carry $100 bills too often. Frankly, I do not know whose picture is on the bill except that it became bigger recently. Japan's $100 bill is called "Ichi-man Yen Shatsu" which is worth approximately 100 USDollars. If you ask Japanese or women on the street who is on their 10,000-Yen bill, there will be two different answers. One is Fukuzawa Yukizi, and the other is Shotoku Taishi.

These days, Japan's $100 bill carries the portrait of Fukuzawa Yukizi. Fukuzawa (1834-1901) was born during the Edo era and died during the Meiji era. He was the first Japanese to advocate a British-style constitutional monarchy, and Japan still is a constitutional monarchy. He was also the founder of Keio University. Even before 1880 AD, a number of Koreans went to Japan and studied there under his influence.

The trouble with those "enlightened" Koreans was that they got involved in politics after they came back, and got wiped out during the political battles. This incident is known to us as Kim Ok-Kyun's three-day world. We should learn a lesson from this incident. Most of our young physicists think the ultimate purpose of doing research is Gamtu. They are wrong and stupid. If you were trained as a research man, your safest way to succeed is to continue your research. If you get involved in politics, you are likely to be screwed by your fellow politicians. Our Ministry of Science of Technology is a case in point. I know the present minister personally, and he is very nice and competent person. At the same time, it is quite safe to say that he is not a scientist.

There are still some Japanese who think their 10,000-Yen bill carries Shotoku Taishi, because his portrait used to be there until it was replaced by Fukuzawa Yukizi about 10 years ago. He is known to us as Seong-duk Taeja. He wrote Japan's first constitution consisting of seventeen Buddhist-inspired laws during the period 590-610 AD. His teacher was a monk from Kokuryo (called Kokuri in Japan). He was also an effective political leader while his aunt was a Japanese Empress. She is known as Empress "Suiko" in Japan, and is known to us as "Chugo." We say that she was born in Paekje (called Kudara in Japan) as one of the princesses. We believe that Shotoku Taishi was born in Japan, but Japanese have many different theories about his birth place.

One theory is that he was born in China. Another theory is that he was born in Siberia or Mongolia. However, Japanese are not able to include Kudara (Paekje) as a possible birth place of Shotoku Taishi. To make things worse, there is a theory that the Taishi was born in a horse stable somewhere in Kyushu. This is of course an imitation of the birth of Jesus.

Shotoku Taishi is a very important person in Japanese history. I would be much happier if our Japanese neighbors could insist that the Taishi was born in Japan period.


Y.S.Kim (1996.11.14)

My mails are monitored by a number of people in Japan (both Japanese and Korean residents). One of them told me that the correct spelling of Fukuzawa Yukizi should be Fukuzawa Yukichi. I would like to thank him, and I trust that those who are more familiar with Japanese affairs will tell me readily whenever I makes mistakes. I am not an expert on Japan, and I am definitely not a historian.

I am interested in Japan simply because I often need Japanese wisdom in order to understand fully the wisdom of Korea. Why do I need this peculiar form of wisdom? The reason is that I cannot compete in the world with the wisdom developed by others. For instance, I can get some grasp of Jewish wisdom from the Old Testament, but I cannot compete with my Jewish colleagues using the wisdom developed by their ancestors.

I received another mail asking me the following question. It is well known that Japan imported civilization from Korea and other Asian counties before Shotoku Taishi, and from the West after Fukuzawa. The time difference between them is more that 1,200 years. What did Japanese do during this long period? The first thing that comes to our mind is their Samurai culture. Was there anything else? Indeed, for many years, the Samurai class was like our privileged Yangban class. There are still many jokes associated with Samuari.

Samurai warriors cannot produce food with their swords, and thus they have to be employed by those who have money or food. If they are unemployed they are called "Roh-Nin" ("nang-in" in Korean). Some of them played a role in Korean politics. As you know, Empress Min was cut down by those Japanese Roh-Nins. These days, many Japanese boys and girls fail in their college entrance exams, just as in Korea. Some of them give up, but many spend one or more years to try again. We call them "Jaesoo Saeng," but they are called "Roh-Nin" in Japan.

Very clearly, Shotoku Taishi was not a sword-swinging Samurai warrior. While the Taishi was running the country (593-622), a number of architectural engineers came from Kokuryo and built a Buddhist temple called Horyu-Ji (we call Bup-Ryung-Sa). With this temple and the Buddhist constitution which the Taishi wrote, Japan started shaping up as a country. By 700 AD, after Silla (called Siragi in Japan), Japan cut off all the relations with the Korean peninsula, and traded directly with the Tang dynasty in China. Like Koreans, many Japanese students went to Tang, and imported many wonderful things from China. For instance, they imported the city design of from Tang's capital called Chang-An, and copied Tang's city plan when they reconstructed their capital city Nara. We say that Nara means "country" in Korean and thus the concept of country came from Korea.

Indeed, Japanese worked hard to construct a Buddhist nation during this Nara period which lasted until 800 AD. In 794 AD, they moved their capital city to Kyoto, and this is the beginning of their Hey-An period which lasted until 1200 AD. The word Hey-An in Kanji (Hanja) means Pyong(peace)-An(safe). As I can see, it was most creative period for Japan, and frankly I do not know why Japanese are not assertive about their creativity during this period. They developed their Kana system of 51 phonetic characters which they still use. Quite understandably, men did not use Kana, and Japanese women are the ones who developed the Kana-based literature. There were many creative painters, musicians, and dancers.

They also developed their agricultural technology. This substantially raised their agricultural productivity, leading to many rich farmers and feudal lords. The natural by-product of a prosperous world is a group of lazy people who did not want to work but wanted to steal crops and other valuable things from those who have them. Those "haves" then had to hire some strong men to guard their crops and other valuables. These strong men then developed martial arts and other military skills. By 1200 AD, those militia men ganged up to form a political power. This is the beginning of the Kamchatka era run by military dictators.

I hope to continue next time. I am talking here about the Japanese history taught at Japan's elementary school. For Koreans, this is better than nothing. For me, it is gratifying to hear from my young friends that my articles are understandable to them. I am available to them as long as I am useful to them.


Y.S.Kim (1996.11.15)

The best way to learn things is to learn through entertainment. Kurosawa Akira is one of the most distinguished film directors in the world. He is a Japanese with Samurai ancestry and made about 30 movies. I watched 20 of them. They all teach me about Japan.

Among his films, "Seven Samurai" is most popular in the United States, particularly among college students. The reason is that it is thoroughly entertaining even from the American point of view. I mentioned this film in one of my early writings in connection with Japan's reconstruction effort after the Pacific War. In addition, it teaches many lessons about Japan's Samurai culture. I would like to urge you again to watch this movie and learn about Japan and about ourselves.

In my previous article, I said the Samurai men cannot eat their swords, and have to live with farmers in one way or another. The film beautifully illustrates this point. I also introduced the word "Roh-Nin" which means unemployed Samurai. I still do not know whether Samurai means a singular or plural noun. Do you know? In either case, the story starts with six Roh-nins. The main character however is a "gazza" (false) Samurai who shows up with a stolen Samuai Jokbo which he cannot read. This seventh Samurai is a son of a farmer who died when he was an infant during a Samurai battle.

The story is rather long, and you should watch the film. The best scene to me is the section where this gazza Samurai (farmer's son) curses his Samurai boss on behalf of farmers. He tells why Samurai are so weak and so stupid while farmers are so smart and so strong. I curse often Korean intellectuals on behalf of Korea's humble people. Whenever I do, I think about this "gazza" Samurai. This main character was played by Japan's most respected actor named Mifune Toshiro. Mifune acts as Lord Toronaga in an American TV drama entitled Shogun.

I said earlier that I sometimes need Japanese wisdom to formulate my own version of Korean wisdom. Seven Samurai is one of the cases. You would agree that this article is a nice break from the lengthy history talk.


Y.S.Kim (1966.11.16)

There are these days many Japanese restaurants in the United States serving Sushi, Sashimi, and other Japanese dishes. However, more than half of them are run by Koreans, and they are "gazza" Japanese restaurants. In every major city, there is at least one Japanese restaurant called "Genji." If you ask the Korean manager what Genji means, he becomes completely blank. I will tell you what this word means.

By 1,200 AD, Japan became a prosperous country, and the prosperity was spreading from the Nara-Kyoto area (Kansai region) to other regions including the area around the Tokyo bay (Kantoa region). At a place called Kamakura, there appeared a family clan with an organizational skill. This clan was and still is called "Genji." This Genji clan developed an organization of militia men who used to guard properties of feudal lords.

In other words, the Genji clan developed the first organized Japanese army. They conquered the entire area of Japan and established a dictatorial regime. Those militia people elevated themselves above farmers, and created the privileged class called Samurai class. From that period, Japan had the following four classes.

  1. Samurai (the highest)
  2. Farmers
  3. Craftsmen
  4. Merchants (the lowest)
This class system was like ours, except that we had Scholars (Yangban) at the top. Indeed, the Samurai class ruled Japan until the Meiji period.

In order to act as the rulers, Samurai men had to look taller, and they developed elevated wooden sandals which will make them taller by three inches. These sandals are called "Keda" in Japan, and they are very convenient in rainy days. You will wonder why Japanese gentlemen and ladies repeatedly bow while they talk. This is also a remnant of the Samurai culture. Unless you constantly bow while listening to a Samurai, your head will get cut off.

The Kamakura Era lasted until 1,333 AD. Then many other Samurai warlords started setting up their own regions of influence. As a consequence, Japan became divided into many different fiefdoms constantly quarrelling against others. This period is called Muromchi Era, which lasted until 1,575 AD when Toyotomi Hideyoshi reunified the country. Toyotomi's reign lasted until 1,600 AD, and this brief period is called Momoyama Era.

If you look at military dictators in Korea's recent history, you will not be surprised to hear that each Samurai ruler during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods accumulated a very unreasonable amount of wealth. However, Japanese during these periods were able to convert their wealth into commercial capitals. They developed trade techniques by smuggling commercial products across the borders between hostile fiefdoms. Indeed, during the Muromachi Era, Japanese were creative enough to develop mercantile capitalism, which formed the basis for their transition to industrial capitalism during the 19th century.

Apparently, the highest-ranking Samurai rulers were cooperating secretly with the lowest-ranking merchants. Indeed, many Japanese Samurai generals were good merchants even though they could not identify themselves with their lowest-ranking class. General Konishi Yukinaga (called So-Seo Haen-Jang by us) stayed in Korea for seven years with his troops, but he was not an effective general. He was a merchant and was constantly worrying about his business in Japan, instead of carrying out Toyotomi's order to march to China.

There was another distinguished merchant Samurai around 1,600 AD. His name was Tokugawa Ieyasu. He had a villa in Edo (Tokyo) and this villa is now the Emperor's Palace. As for Kamakura, the city still exists near Yokohama. The only remnant of the powerful Kamakura Era is one statue of Buddha. Japanese do not seem to be generous enough to put a roof above this lonely Buddha. I hope to continue my story next time.


Y.S.Kim (1996.11.18)

Last night, I went to a party for some highly educated Koreans, and I met a Korean professor who wrote a book about Japan. I asked him the following question. First, we agreed that Medici of Florence was the first one in history to grab a political power with money, while all before him did with military means as Julius Caesar did. I then asked him whether Japan's Tokugawa was like Medici. He strongly disagreed and told me that he became very rich after becoming the the ruler of Japan in 1600 AD.

As you know, I have a bad habit of disagreeing with authorities. First of all, who is Tokugawa? A TV drama entitled "Shogun" still available from video shops. The drama is an approximate description of the process in which Tokugawa Ieyasu eliminated his political rivals after the death of Toyotomi Hideyohi. The romance between one Englishman and a married Japanese woman is a pure fabrication, and this angered many Japanese.

Before Hideyoshi unified Japan in 1574, Tokugawa was one of his strongest rivals. However, Tokugawa was wise enough to serve as Hideyoshi's vassal until he died 1in 1598. During this period, he was interested in running Japan, while his boss was day-dreaming about becoming the ruler of China. My assumption is that he was able to win the political battle because he knew how to manage money. Throughout the TV drama, he is constantly interested in trading with the Western world. Without an experience in commercial trade within Japan, could he have produced this creative idea?

During the series of political battles, he was building up his base in Edo (now called Tokyo) as the commercial center of Japan. Two years after he became the Shogun, he gave his authority to run the internal affairs of Japan to his son, and concentrated himself to the trade with the Christian world. Initially, he had an open-door policy, but reversed himself after seeing a possible danger to his regime. He then allowed only Holland to trade through the port of Nagasaki. This trade policy lasted until Japan opened the port to the United States in 1854.

As for the trading within Japan, Edo rapidly became the commercial megalopolis immediately after Tokugawa took over. In order to carry out commercial transactions, you need a place to sit down and talk. When you talk, you have to be gentle and kind to others. The best way to be gentle is to offer tea. There appeared an area north of Tokugawa's palace (Imperial Palace now) an area named Ochanomizu. The business people used to drink tea there. "Ocha" means tea, "mizu" means water, and "no" means "of" or "for" in Japanese. They say the water from the wells and creeks in that area used to be very tasty.

The business people then started to drink wine instead of tea. Japanese businessmen still do business in this way, and this practice is quite common also in Korea. Soon after, Japan's academic people decided to join the party. This is the reason why there are so many universities and book stores in the Ochanomizu region. There now is a park dedicated to Confucius. This park used to be the site of the Shu-Shi Kaku (Chu-Ja Hak) Research Institute. In this way, Japanese further developed their commercial capitalism, and Western ideas started to creep into Japanese hearts and minds.

If you wish to see Japan's neon signs, visit Ginza district. If you wish to have a glimpse of Japan's past, visit Ochanomizu. So far, I have written a brief amateurish history of Japan. I had to this because I made a promise two years ago to a number of my younger friends who wanted to know more about Japan. However, in writing my own version, I had one point in mind. These days, Japan is one of the economic superpowers. Japan became so not because they copied capitalism from the West, but because they developed their own capitalism. Japanese are creative people.


Y.S.Kim (1996.11.27)

In my previous article, I mentioned the word "Medici" as the first person in history to grab a political power with money, not with military means. It appears that Medici is totally unknown among my young friends. If you passed your college entrance exam, you should know the word "Renaissance." You should also be able to relate this word to an Italian city called Florence or Firenze. Before you passed the exam, you knew them, but they evaporated from your memory after you entered the college.

I am writing this article because you still need Medici. The point is that you like to make many American and European friends to boost your standing in the community of Korean physicists. Those Westerners will not do any business with you unless you know who Medici was. Medici was like our King Sejong in the Western world. Thus, I would like to give a small seminar on this important person.

During the Tang period (600-900 AD), the cultural center in the world was the city of Chang-An. These days, most people that the Western culture is superior to the Oriental culture. When did this transition take place? As you know, this happened during the Renaissance period (1300-1700 AD). You should know that artists, particularly painters, played an important role in the early stage of this cultural revival. At one point in your high school, you learned that the Medici family financed the activities of those Italian artists.

How did they get the money and influence? The Medici family accumulated their wealth by trading and later by establishing a banking network throughout Europe stretching from England to Greece. Their home base was in Florence, and he invested heavily in art. Before 1300 AD, Europeans trembled whenever they heard the word Genghis Khan. During the period 1300-1600 AD, the Medici family was so powerful that the most honorable thing in Europe was to marry a boy or girl named Medici. The family produced two boys who became Popes, and this was how Vatican started importing arts.

Michelangelo was supported by the Medici family. Italians say that Michelangelo is more valuable to Italy than Shakespeare is to England. You can read Shakespeare anywhere in the world and Englishmen cannot make money on his books. However, you have to come to Italy and spend money to see the artworks of Michelangelo. The Medici family therefore made a very wise investment, and they certainly knew how to make money.

Two of the Medici girls went "sizip" (to marry) to France to become French queens. You can now guess how the art started in France. One of those two girls was fond of music-and-dance combination. After Louis XIV died, Peter the Great of Russia visited France and started importing French culture to Russia. Russians were particularly interested in this new form of music-and-dance. This eventually became the ballet art developed by Russians.

How much do I know about ballets? Not much, except that I watched many of them. Marilyn Noz has been my coworker since 1970, and I wrote two books and many papers with her. She is completely crazy about ballets. In addition, I visited Russia eight times since 1990. Whenever I go there, my Russian colleagues drag me to ballets. When I was in Minsk last June, I was forced to watch Khachaturyan's ballet entitled "Spartacus," and it was very good. Aram Ilich Khachaturyan was a modern Armenian composer and his best known work is "Sabre Dance." In order to raise my statue, I had to tell my Russian friends that I knew about this composer before, and this is even true. During the Cold-War era, Khachaturyan's music was forbidden in Korea. I once tape-recorded his violin concerto from Japanese broadcast when I was in high school.

In December of every year, the most seasonal ballet is the "Nutcracker" by Tchaikovsky. The story is about a Christmas party for children, and many youngsters participate in the performance. If you have children of age 10-16, you should take them to this ballet. You do not have to be a child to enjoy this ballet. The second act consists of a complete set of international dances including those of Russia, France, China, Spain, Arabia, and other countries. To us, the most interesting part is the Chinese dance, where the dancers pretend to be Chinese men and women. On December 19, I plan to go to this ballet performed by the Moscow State Ballet in Washington, DC.

You like to establish your status in the world physics community. You should then behave like a Yangban in the Western world. The knowledge of Western music and related forms of arts is a precondition for becoming an American/European Yangban. As I said repeatedly before, Korea gives you the best pre-college education available in the world. If you like to play a role in the world stage, you should keep the knowledge you acquired from your education. If you keep blaming your own background, you are bound to destroy yourself.

29 November 1996

Dear Prof. Kim,

I am working as a post-doc in nuclear theory group of Muenchen, Germany. I am enjoying your articles about Japan and Medici etc. But I would like to mention one point about your previous article about Sung-Duk Tae-Ja (Shotoku Taishi) and to introduce another point of view.

You said that Japanese history wrote that he was born in a horse stable and it is an imitation of the birth of Jesus. But it may not be the case, I think. One of his contributions is the import of Buddism. So at his days, Japanese just became to know the name of Buddha, then how could they know Jesus? If the story about his birth was made after the import of Catholic, then your argument can be justified. But I think the story was made before the import of Catholic. (and my Japanese friend verifies this.) This makes me to consider your argument again.

Then, where is the story from? As you might know, it might be from our Baek-Che dynasty as Shin Chae-Ho said in Cho-Sun-Sang-Go-Sa. According to his theory, the story was from Keun-Ku-Su-Wang of Baek-Che. Keun-Ku-Su-Wang was an important king of Baek-Che history. When he was Tae-Ja, Ko-Kuk-Won-Wang of Ko-Ku-Ryeo (he was the great grandfather of Kwang-Gae-To-Dae-Wang) invaded Baek-Che and Keun-Ku-Su-Wang killed him in a battle. So Ko-Ku-Ryeo had to move her capital city from Pyung-Yang to Kuk-Nae-Sung again. And he was known to have colony in southern China. According to Cho-Sun-Sang-Go-Sa, Baek-Che had colony only in two times, at the era of Keun-Ku-Su-Wang and at the era of Dong-Sung-Wang.

(The following is from the book of Shin Chae-Ho) Now let me mention the relationship between Keun-Ku-Su-Wang and Shotoku Taishi. First, "Keun" means "holy" in old Korean language, so Sung-Duk is from "Keun". Second, one of the meaning of "Ku-Su" is horse equipment. So it can be thought that the birth of Shotoku imitate "Ku-Su". Actually the name of Shotoku in his childhood has the same meaning and similar pronunciation. And many of contributions of Shotoku overlap with those of Keun-Ku-Su-Wang, including the import of Buddhism. The Buddhism was not imported by Chim-Ryu-Wang (sun of Keun-Ku-Su) but by Keun-Ku-Su-Wang.

Of course, the old history of Asia can not be trusted 100 percent. The history, especially Korean history, had been distorted very much, by Chinese, by Korean ourselves (such as Kim Bu-Sik), and Japanese. But we should notice the recent excavations in China. It was believed that the Chinese culture started from Hwang-Huh (Yellow River) area. But recently people found another culture around Yang-Zhi (Yang-Ja-Gang) and its culture was older than the Yellow-River culture by 700-1000 years. This means that the origin of Chinese history should go back to 700-1000 years again. This is studing by chinese and Japanese scholars. Japanese want to prove that their culture was imported directly from China not through Korea. But they are neglecting one more excavation in Hong-San, Manchuria. This culture is estimated to be older than the Yellow-River culture by 1500 years and it shows typical Korean style that is quite different from other chinese culture (This is from "Han-Gyo-Rye" news paper, 1996).

It is very pity that we can not access the newly discovered Hong-San culture at this time. And I feel sorry to see that our government neglect the importance of educating and studying of our history. The total lecture time in history for students was decreased very much in a "new" educational system.

I am actually enjoying your articles and I hope to see your interesting articles continually.

Sincerely yours,
Yongseok Oh
Institute for Theoretical Physics, T39, Physics Department
Technical University of Munich, D-85747 Garching, Germany
E-mail: yoh@Physik.TU-Muenchen.DE
Tel.(O) +49-89-28912197, (H) +49-89-32625134, FAX +49-89-28912325


Y.S.Kim (1996.12.20)

When you go to England, you have to go through a passport-control station at one of London's two airports. The officer stamps your passport saying "Leave to enter." Have you ever figured out what the word leave means? Look at the dictionary! The immigration officer does not ask you whether you have read Shakespeare, but he/she should.

Likewise in Japan, the immigration officer gives you a stamp saying that you are landing from the sea even though you came down from the sky. The immigration officer does not ask you whether you have read the Tale of Genji, but he/she should.

The Tale of Genji (Genji Monokatari) is a full-length novel written 1,000 years ago by a Japanese woman writer named Murasaki Sikibu. She wrote this in Hirakana (Japan's phonetic characters) in three lengthy volumes based on seventy years of the Japanese history preceding her time. The main figure named Genji was a prince born from one of the emperor's secondary wives. He lived before 1,000 AD and is quite different from the Genji family who established the military directorship in Kamakura in 1,200 AD. In her first volume, Lady Sikibu deals with Prince Genji's younger period. The second volume covers Genji's life in his later years. In the third volume, the author talks about Genji's children and grandchildren. Throughout the Tale, there appear more than 400 personalities.

Prince Genji's mother died when he was very young, but he was the most favorite son of the emperor, and was very popular among the imperial family members. As he grew up, he became extremely popular among the high-class girls and ladies. The first volume of the Monokatari deals with his rich extra-marriage life. His first romance was with his father's (emperor's) youngest secondary wife who looked like his deceased mother. You got the flavor of the novel.

The burning question to us is whether there is a Korean influence on this book. Some people including Kwabata Yasunari say that there is, but I am not competent to elaborate on this point. However, I can mention two items explicitly stated in the book. First, the emperor wanted Prince Genji to succeed him as the emperor because he was so handsome and smart, but the difficulty was that his rank was not high enough because of his mother's background.

In a vain attempt to overcome this difficulty, the emperor sent Genji instead of his crown prince to greet a newly arriving Korean Ambassador. As you know there is a theory that the late Kim Il-sung did not allow his son, Kim Jong-Il, to meet with Jimmy Carter who visited Pyongyang in 1994. Kim Il-Sung did not think Kim Jong-Il is good enough to succeed him as the king of North Korea. This means that, 1,000 years ago, Korea's position in Japan was that of the United States in North Korea.

The Genji Monokatari also says explicitly that the Korean Ambassador was so pleased with Prince Genji that he called him "Hikaru" Genji. The word "Hikaru" written in Chinese character means "light" or "photon" which we pronounce as "kwang." In this case, Hikaru means "shining." Hikaru Genji therefore means Shining Genji. He is still known in Japan as Hikaru Genji. The Tale explicitly states that this name was bestowed upon him by the Korean Ambassador.

You like to be treated as the Korean Ambassador of the tenth century when you visit Japan. If this is the case, you should tell the Japanese passport inspector that you have read Murasaki Sikibu's Genji Monokatari before he/she opens your passport. In order to say this, you should read the book. This book was translated into English by an Englishman named Arthur Waley during the period 1920-1935. The abridged English version was written by Edward Seidensticker who also translated Kawabata's "Yukiguni" (Snow Country). This shorter version is a readily available from university bookstores throughout the world.


Y.S.Kim (1996.12.24)

Less than 30 minutes after I received the above notice, I sent my acknowledgement to using the e-mail reply machine. My mail came back from [@jiri.kaist.ac.kr] saying that the mail cannot be delivered.

This is not my first time to complain about Korea's computer maintenance problem. Korea definitely is the worst country in the world in terms of computer maintenance. About two years ago, SNU's <@phya> broke down and did not function for almost one year. At that time, I complained to a number of SNU people. They all said it is not their responsibility to fix the computer. One diligent person said he realizes the seriousness of the problem but it is difficult to get the hard disk in Korea, in spite of the fact that Korea produces about 30 percents of all the hard disks in the world.

I am not the only person who complains about Korea's computer problem. Many foreigners express frustrations over their attempted e-mails to Korea. With this kind of maintenance habit, we are not likely to change the prejudice Westerners have against Korea's research establishments. They say that Korea is a backward country, and this is said often by those who were dearly paid to visit Korea. I say again that the bribe diplomacy is a suicidal form of diplomacy. We should redirect the bribe money to our own research programs including computer maintenance. If this is so difficult (this seems to be case), the problem is due to our lack of passion for research. The research in Korea still is only a step-stone to Gamtu.


Letter from a student (1996,12.26)

Dear Prof. Kim,

First of all, I can't believe that SNU's computer system was down for one year! It's definitely a joke. I agree with you on the weird computer system management in Korea because I have the same experience. Recently I got an e-mail from one of my friends in Korea. He works at LG Electronics. He gave me his e-mail address in his message but my e-mail didn't go thru with that address. When I "reply" to where his e-mail came from, it was also bounced back by an LG server with different name. It ate up so much time for me to figure out, actually I needed a help from another friend of mine who is in Computer Science. In fact my friend at LG had his e-mail account in another named server. In other words, I was fooled by THREE different named servers for only one account!! Isn't it crazy? I couldn't believe that it's even the computer system in one of the LEADING electronics company of Korea..

One more thing I want to point out is the web pages in Korea. I found that some of the WWW pages of Korean universities and companies are written only in Korean. As far as I know, the web pages are primarily for the information exchange and/or public relations throughout the whole world: as it's called World Wide Web. With only Korean-written web pages, it seems that their "world" is only inside of Korea. I hate to say this, but the fact is that English is THE international language at this time. So ALL major industrial and academic institutions of Korea must have an English version of their home pages if they like to be the international class.

Anyway, computer system management in Korea is not understandable..


Sangwook Park
(Mr. Park did his undergraduate study at Illinois Inst. of Tech.)


Clarification. SNU's Physics Department has many (too many) e-mail receiving stations. It is not true that the entire system was down for one year, but the primary station (@phya.snu.ac.kr) was down. How important is this station? It is important enough for Yonsei's Physics Department to name their primary station @phya.yonsei.ac.kr. Hanyang University also has its @phya.hanyang.ac.kr station.