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Park, Lee, Chang, and Oh: Historical Perspectives of Korean Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery: Inauguration and Activities of the Historical Records Preservation Committee

Abstract

The Korean Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (KTCVS) was founded in 1968 and celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding in 2018. The launch of the KTCVS may seem somewhat recent, given that the American Association for Thoracic Surgery was founded in 1917. However, considering the circumstances of the Korean medical community after the Japanese occupation (1910–1945), World War II (1940–1945), and the Korean War (1950–1953), this apparent delay is understandable. Even before the foundation of the KTCVS, the early pioneers of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery promptly adopted medical technologies from more advanced countries such as the United States, and contributed significantly to both cardiac and thoracic surgery despite difficult circumstances. In 2012, before the 50th anniversary of the founding of the KTCVS, members shared the opinion that objective records of the activities of the early pioneers should be identified and preserved, and reacted positively towards the necessity for historians who would preserve such records. With this background, the Historical Records Preservation Committee of the KTCVS (hereinafter, referred to as ‘the Committee’) was launched. The Committee published a white paper on the history of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in 2015 and held an exhibition of the achievements of the pioneers at the 50th anniversary of the founding of the KTCVS. The Committee also published a book entitled “The history of Korean thoracic surgery with photographs: celebrating the 50th anniversary of the society.” The Committee will keep making efforts to find and preserve materials related to activities during the early development of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in Korea.

Motivation for inauguration of the Committee

The Korean Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (KTCVS) was founded in 1968 (Fig. 1).
Before the 50th anniversary of the KTCVS, some members, including professor Byung-Chul Chang and professor Sungsoo Lee, who are among the authors of this paper, always wished for the KTCVS to have a historian who would record and present information about our early activities. In particular, this desire was spurred by seeing the activities and papers of related societies from the United States and other countries. We were especially impressed by the history of the pioneers of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in the United States, which was regularly published as the first article in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, the official journal of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.
Until early 2012, the society’s website contained only a few pages of information on the historical records of thoracic surgery authored by Professor Seung-Nok Hong, and it was difficult to appreciate the entirety of the historical development of thoracic surgery in Korea because the records were scattered and stored at various universities around the country. As a former member of the planning committee of the KTCVS, Professor Kook-Yang Park strongly emphasized the need for active participation of historical experts, one in the field of cardiovascular surgery and another in the field of general thoracic surgery. With support from the former president (2013–2014) Byung-Chul Chang and chairman Kyung Sun, the Historical Records Preservation Committee of the KTCVS (hereafter, referred to as ‘the Committee’) was founded. The Committee elected Professor Kook-Yang Park, from Gil Medical Center as the director, Professor Sungsoo Lee from Gangnam Severance Hospital as the co-director, and invited one representative each from prestigious universities such as Seoul National University and Yonsei University. Professor Sang Hyung Kim at Chonnam National University Hospital, and Professor Byung-Chul Chang at Severance Hospital, Yonsei University were appointed as advisors. Then, the Committee started its activities.

Activities after the launch of the Committee

In 2015, the Committee published a white paper (“2015 Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery white paper: Growth and Prospects”) centered on the history of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in Korea to raise the awareness of policymakers, the media, the National Assembly, and the general public of the importance of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery (Figs. 2, 3). With the momentum provided by publication of the white paper, a more systematic approach started to be taken to archive important historical materials of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery and the importance of our efforts to maintain our identity was emphasized. However, in our opinion, the 2015 white paper was not able to address the following points: the surgical records of the earliest pioneers of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, the impact of the Korean War and the role of foreign thoracic surgeons’ support during this time, the contribution of missionary hospitals, the overseas volunteer medical services, historical photographic records, etc. The white paper was not able to address those points because the primary intention of that publication was to convey to the general public the current crisis arising from the shortage of thoracic surgeons. With this perspective in mind, the Committee members shared the strong sentiment that the 50th anniversary of the KTCVS should be focused on a project dedicated entirely to the early history of thoracic surgery in South Korea, with the goal of collecting photographic records of surgical pioneers from the pre-internet era and their achievements. This project led to the publication of the book “The history of Korean thoracic surgery with photographs: celebrating the 50th anniversary of the society (Fig. 4).” Starting with the story of Lee Wan-Yong, who was the first patient to undergo thoracic surgery in Korea, at Daehan Hospital in 1909 due to the patriot Jae-Myeong Lee’s attempt to assassinate him, this publication comprehensively presents the achievements of major figures such as Pyung-Kan Koh [1], Kyok Boo Han [2], Pilll Whoon Hong [3], Sung Haing Lee [4], Yung Kyun Lee [5], and Sung-Hwa Yoo [6], who were the pioneers of the early days of lung and heart surgery. It also contains records of the remarkable activities of mission hospitals, which provided vital assistance to Korea around the time of Korean liberation; mobile army surgical hospital units, which made major contributions to the development of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery during Korean War; the Minnesota project, which contributed to the development of Seoul National University Hospital; the establishment of the National Medical Center by 3 Scandinavian countries; the role of KTCVS for the Asian Society for Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery; the establishment of the Korea Heart Foundation, which contributed greatly to the increase of annual numbers of open heart surgeries in Korea; and the overseas volunteer medical services provided by our society members.
Furthermore, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the KTCVS, along with the publication of “The history of Korean thoracic surgery with photographs: celebrating the 50th anniversary of the society,” exhibits on important achievements and pioneering figures in the early period of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery were shown in the lobby of the conference center at the Walker Hill Hotel, portraits of all the chairmen and presidents of the KTCVS were displayed in the hallway, and a commemorative exhibition of illustrated poems was held.

Future directions of activities

The activities of the Committee will continue to focus on archiving objective data on thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. We also hope to inherit the pioneer spirit of earlier generations of our society, whose unmatched efforts and dedication helped Korea to develop into a medically advanced country. We are also proud to have a health care system that is considered to be the most cutting-edge and effective in the world, even after the period of Japanese colony and the Korean War, which presented unparalleled social and economic challenges. We are confident that promoting these records widely by publishing them in English will promote pride among Korean thoracic and cardiovascular surgeons.

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Kyung Sun, former chairman, professor at Korea University College of Medicine; Sung Bo Shim, the former chairman, professor at Catholic University College of Medicine, Hyoung Mook Kim, former professor at Korea University College of Medicine [7]; Byung-Chul Chang and Sungsoo Lee, member of the Committee who have strived to supplement our historical records (Table 1). In last, the most of all, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Tae Yoon Oh, chairman of the KTCVS and Ms. Jungsook Kim, and Ms. Bang Sil Choi of the Society office.

Notes

Conflict of interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

References

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Fig. 1
The Korean Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery established its status as an academic society by holding a meeting of its founders in the auditorium of the National Medical Center on February 3, 1968 and its inaugural meeting in the auditorium of the College of Medicine, Catholic University of Korea on May 18, 1968.
kjtcvs-52-191f1.tif
Fig. 2
As the result of the first activities of the Historical Records Preservation Committee of the Korean Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, a white paper of 213 pages was published, and a celebration of its publication was held at the Press Center on April 29, 2015.
kjtcvs-52-191f2.tif
Fig. 3
In 2015, the Historical Records Preservation Committee published a white paper centered on history of Korean Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (“2015 thoracic and cardiovascular surgery white paper: growth and prospects”) to raise the awareness of policymakers, the media, the National Assembly, and Korean people of the importance of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery.
kjtcvs-52-191f3.tif
Fig. 4
For the 50th anniversary of the Korean Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, the Committee published “The history of Korean thoracic surgery with photographs: celebrating the 50th anniversary of the society,” as a part of a project to preserve and transmit the history of early thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. This publication presents photographic records and achievements of the pioneers of the society before the internet era.
kjtcvs-52-191f4.tif
Table 1
Members of the Historical Records Preservation Committee of the Korean Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Name Affiliations Position
Kook-Yang Park Gachon University Gil Medical Center Chairman
Sungsoo Lee Gangnam Severance Hospital Vice-chairman
Jae Gun Kwak Seoul National University Hospital Member
Gun-Jik Kim Kyungpook National University Hospital Member
Do Hun Kim Chungbuk National University Hospital Member
Woo Shik Kim National Medical Center Member
Jae Seung Shin Korea University Ansan Hospital Member
Hoseok I Pusan National University Hospital Member
Hanna Jung Kyungpook National University Hospital Member
Deog Gon Cho St. Vincent's Hospital Member
Jae-Woong Choi Seoul National University Hospital Member
Tae Yun Oh Kangbuk Samsung Medical Center Chairman of the Board
Hyo Chul Youn Kyung Hee University Hospital Director of the General Business Board
Sang Hyung Kim Chonnam National University Hospital Advisor
Byung-Chul Chang CHA Bundang Medical Center Advisor
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