One day when the bus a doctor took broke down, he saw a surprising sight. Where the bus stopped was one dal-dongne and what amazed him was the sight of the feet sticking out from the shanty. It was because the shanty was so small that a man couldn't put his feet in the house. From that day, the doctor decided to build a hospital in this daldongne, Bongchun-dong, and started to help people without any reward. Society called him a successful doctor. People called him as Bongchun-dong Schweitzer. The doctor's name is Yoon Joohong (Yoon).
SMT I heard you didn’t plan to be a doctor from at first. After graduating in another major, you decided to be a doctor at 31 years old.
YOON When I entered the university, I should take a leave from the university because of the healthy problem. During this period, I looked back over my life and I realized one fact - I couldn’t live my life for myself. However I didn’t want to live rest of my life only for myself. I wanted to live for not only myself but also others. After long considering, I decided to be a doctor. There were so many sick people, but medical aid such as medical insurance was very lacking in that time and my father was a doctor. Therefore I thought doctor was the best job to realize my hope. Therefore I started my second life as a doctor. Considering as the principle of heart, life before this enlightenment was a vein and the life since then was artery.
SMT In Korea, the most important thing to be a doctor is a high grade and some of the smartest students choose to be a doctor only because of high income.
YOON The reason of this sorry phenomenon is because of the lack of understating about the job as a doctor. After I decided to be a doctor, I took the exam for the special admission to enter the medical school. In this test, I couldn’t write formal answers about the questions, so I wrote my will and determination about why I should be a doctor on the answer sheet. Surprisingly, I became the one in five who was chosen as a successful applicant in 180 applicants. Of course I studied madly, but I became a doctor because of my eagerness. In Korean, a doctor is called Eui-sa and Sa (師) has a meaning as teacher. Among the many jobs, jobs that have Sa (師) are only teacher and doctor. A doctor is like a teacher. We should use our knowledge for the others, not for ourselves, just like the money.
SMT You established Gwanak scholarship committee. There is a general perception that scholarship foundations are established by the wealthy. However, the Gwanak scholarship committee is run by the citizens living this area
little by little. Can you tell about it?
YOON After the ’88 Seoul Olympics, the Korean government said that we can achieve remarkable growth in culture, economy and society. However, there was not a big difference to the poor. The poor still had relative deprivation in their mind and I wanted to cure this mind. After receiving the grand prize in the Seoul Citizen Award (held first in October of 1889) and getting honor socially, I decided to establish a scholarship committee. I went to the Gwanak-gu office and said I didn’t want to establish a one-way scholarship committee. To cure the relative deprivation the poor had, I thought that people who stand on the position getting help should stand in the position of helping others. After being the chairman of the commitee, I made a plan - 1000 won per week. There was a big response. Students, shoeblacks and even the baggers took part in the fund raising. In this way, we could save three hundred million won, a minimum amount to found a scholarship committee, during a year. It was a very fresh idea and very pleasant thinking and it is still a really happy memory to me.
SMT In Korea, service is often done for show, such as for entering the university or getting a job. Therefore, there is research suggesting that real volunteers haven’t increased. What do you think about it?
YOON Considering service time in university or company is good institutionally, but practically it is very useless. Sometimes students came to my hospital to fill the service time. Then do they really work for service? No, for them, service is to kill the time, not voluntary. What Korea needs more is personality education than forced service. There is not a class on ethics or morals in university. Many people still have a wrong thought about service. Our ancestors lived with service naturally. For example, on an autumn day leaving some persimmons for magpies instead of picking all was a service mind. Service mind is a sharing mind, and just having composure. We don’t have to do voluntary service grandly in a gathering or group. Just do what you can do as far as possible in your boundary. Even if it is very small, it is even better than forced service.
SMT You work not only as a doctor but also writer. Why did you decide to write a book and what is your driving force that made you work in various areas?
YOON Before entering medical school, I graduated from the division of Korean language and literature. Therefore, writing is just like a hometown for me. As I am getting older, I have come to feel lonely, and writing was the key that comforts me. I always have a passion. It’s a really important thing for humans to have youthfulness in their minds regardless of age. Therefore, I have a something to tell to today’s youth. Many students think they should stand out and be different from others. Instead of this thought, have the virtue of average. In ordinary life, have a passion and youth about what you want and explore it. Don’t be afraid of asking what you don’t know. Then you can succeed without obsession for being different.