[Letters] Has Korea given up bioengineering?

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[Letters] Has Korea given up bioengineering?

The last science-related article I saw in Korea was about the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-I, or the NARO. Although the launch turned out to be a failure, it was an event that highlighted the development of Korean aerospace engineering. A third launch is likely coming soon and action has already started to prepare for a success. This shows that Korea is making advancement in the astronomical field.

But what about science related to medicine? I have not seen any good articles recently that depict the advances in biochemistry in Korea. There has been no news on new medicine or on cell research.

In 2005, Korean biotechnology seemed to be evaluated highly by the world because of the stem cell research of Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk. But because the data provided turned out to be fabricated, it all ended up nothing but a scandal. After the incident there were no spotlights on the biological or chemical fields in Korea. No advances were significant enough to catch attention.

New medicine development is important in medical science. Developing new medicine requires an immense amount of technology. Unfortunately, the chemical library of Korea is not sufficient enough to push the biochemical industry.

In a symposium held last month by the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, Kim Bum-tae, the general manager of the bio-organic science division, claimed that an expansion for a more systematic and extensive chemical library is needed in Korea. That way Korea can effectively develop the biochemical industry and conduct the research and tests needed to make new medicine.

Neither advances in new medicine nor clinical trials take place in Korea much. A recent documentary program related to omega fatty acids in corn showed a variety of clinical trials.

People with certain diseases were the subjects and their diets were limited to certain types of food that controlled the amount of fatty acids in their bodies. The results showed that the people got better by just changing their diets. Instead of just receiving the results of the trials conducted by other countries, Korea should also actively conduct trials and discover new results.

It is time for Korea’s medical field to receive some spotlight. News on economic development and the ups and downs in the economy are mainly the ones that make headlines.

Especially this year, when the economy was the main focus in newspapers and television news due to the G-20 Summit. Since the G-20 Summit has successfully ended, it would be a great change to see an article related to advances made in science. Korea should give a little kick to boost the science field and make medical developments.

Kim Da-young, a student at Ewha Womans University
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