Professor links diabetes to the origins of KoreansResearch into the origin of the Korean people and into diabetes may not seem to have much of a connection, but one diabetes specialist has been studying the subjects for more than 20 years.
“I learned that Koreans and people living in the north of China have the same genotype, one that could be susceptible to diabetes,” said Lee Hong-gyu, 62, a professor at the endocrinology department of Seoul National University Hospital. Dr. Lee learned this when he attended an academic seminar, “Histocompatibility and Genes,” in Hokkaido, Japan, in 1986.
“I was curious as to whether it could prove a theory that Koreans came from the north.”
Dr. Lee is also the co-president of the Korea Baikal Forum, a group of people who believes that Koreans’ ancestors came from a location near Lake Baikal in Siberia.
The forum’s 40 members include historians, archeologists, geologists, linguists and folklore specialists, who signed up to join in his effort after listening to a presentation Dr. Lee gave on his research.
Six years ago, Dr. Lee decided to go to Siberia and study the genes of people who live near Lake Baikal. In the summer of 2002, he went for an extended stay there with other scholars in related fields.
“I was surprised. The native Briyat have the same facial features as Koreans. Their culture is very similar, too. They practice a form of shamanism similar to that of Koreans, including totem poles and devil posts,” Dr. Lee said.
After the field trip, the members of the forum appeared to be even more enthusiastic about studying the origins of Koreans. Dr. Lee dedicated himself to studying genetic comparisons between Koreans and Siberian native races, in collaboration with Moscow State University. The results of his research were published in two English-language books by Dr. Lee in 2004 and 2005.
Recently, he published another book, titled, “The Origin of Koreans Traced to Lake Baikal,” a comprehensive report of his latest research.
“The book is only a start. I am thinking about a linguistic study on the Korean language and other languages in the surrounding regions,” Dr. Lee said. “I also plan to support excavation research near the lake.
“I am proud and feel it is worthwhile to study the origins of the Korean people and to study diabetes at the same time,” he said.
by Shin Ye-ri