Proposed the establishment of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research and endeavored to realize it Published Korea's first general science magazine for public, "Science Joseon" and continued for a long period
(Late) Sir Kim Yong Gwan
Managing Director, Science Knowledge Distribution Association (1897~1967)
- Academic background
Dept. of Ceramics, National Industrial Training School
Dept. of Ceramics, Gyeongseong Industrial Professional School
- Professional career
Managing Director, Society of Invention
1928 ~ 1932
Director, Goryeo Association of Invention
1933 ~ 1944
Publisher, [Science Joseon]
Executive Director, Science Knowledge Distribution Association
Led Science Day events
Deputy Chairman, Joseon Ceramics Industry Association
1956 ~ 1967
Executive Director & Vice President, Korea Association of Invention
Official Commendation on Day of Invention, Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Association of Invention Award
Invention Award and Merit Award, Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Sir Yong Gwan Kim was a science and technology activist who proposed "Establishing Science Joseon" as a new vision for a Korea led by scientific thinking and he led a breakthrough for the country even under the Japanese occupation that set in motion a nationwide science movement with broad participation so as to realize that vision.
Pioneering science activist who led the science movement which appealed broadly to citizens
He was a true pathbreaker in science and technology who rose above the tremendous hardships of his youth to achieve greatness for his country. He studied at the National Industrial Training School, the de-facto first modern science and technology education institution in Korea and graduated from Gyeongseong Industrial Professional School in 1918 as valedictorian.
At the time, there was a national movement for independence from Japan that would result in massive protests the next year. There were also movements for self-strengthening of the capabilities of Korean people in every field of knowledge and activity.
Sir Kim was swept up in the movement to heighten the nation's science and technology capabilities, throwing himself into the effort with a profound sense of duty and responsibility. He was the leader in the first generation of scientists and technicians as Korea entered the twentieth century.
The Society of Invention, founded in 1924, established itself as a center for the distribution of industrial knowledge and the encouragement of invention. Sir Kim played a leadership role in its founding and urged alumni of Gyeongseong Industrial Professional School to join. At the time, the concepts of science, technology, invention, and industry were muddled and confused, often used in the same sense. He strove to raise awareness and scientific understanding in the general public.
Around that time, he enthusiastically participated in the Production Encouragement Movement aimed at increasing economic independence for Korea. He believed science and technology, and by extension, invention, were critical for the industrial development of Korea (Joseon). In 1928, he established Goryeo Invention Association, increasing his efforts to promote technical inventions that would support Korean (Joseon) people's industry. In the restricted environment under Japanese occupation, these efforts were inevitably limited. Through the process, however, he learned about the necessity of promoting systematically science and technology. He also grasped the value of enhancing the role of national celebrities in the promotion of science and technology.
Led the popularization of science by writing nearly 200 articles for newspapers and magazines
Sir Kim continued throughout the 1930s to promote this science movement. In 1932, he rebuilt the Society of Invention and the next year, he started the publication of the immensely influential science magazine "Science Joseon" aimed at ordinary citizens.
In 1934, he designated a Science Day in Korea and promoted actively science events to accompany the founding of the Science Knowledge Distribution Association. He designated April 19th as Science Day because it was the day that the great scientist Charles Darwin, died in 1882. Sir Kim used a variety of events to promote science such as celebration ceremonies, lectures, radio programs, car parades, motion picture viewings, science organization visits, invention fairs, science consultations, science forums, etc. The Science Movement spread out from Gyeongseong (Seoul) to the entire country including Pyeongyang, Gaeseong, Gangseo, Seoncheon, Wonsan, Hamheung, Sincheon, Gimcheon, Daegu, Gwangju, etc. The movement continued on until at least 1940.
Presented a vision for “Establishing Science Joseon (Korea),” the introduction to the general public of science, technology and invention, and the promotion of research and development via research institutes, etc.
The great value of the science movement lies in the fact that it presented science and technology as the great task for the nation and enthusiastically proceeded with promotional activities. That is to say that the movement presented "Establishment of Science Joseon" as the highest priority and tried to prepare a blueprint. First of all, he stressed the critical importance of scientists and inventors, who will lead Science Joseon, and he actively promoted the need to raise a new generation of scientists among the general public. It was important to establish the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research as the main location for their work. He cooperated with leaders in every field and encouraged public support so as to establish the institute. “Science Joseon” was an authoritative general science magazine which included comprehensive information about science and discussions about science and policy for a non-specialist.
After the liberation of the country, Sir Kim participated in invention associations, etc. and gave lectures on science for the public. He tried to reinstate Science Day. At the same time, he also put effort in invention of his own, registering 10 patents, mainly concerning the “Ondol” heating system. His inventions, however, did not receive sufficient recognition during his lifetime. The awards that he receive for his inventions were limited to official commendation on Day of Invention in 1959 (Ministry of Commerce and Industry), the Association of Invention Award in 1965, and the Invention Award, the Merit Award from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 1967. These awards did not recognize the originality, or the breadth of his achievements, even after he died. It was only much later that he was selected as a person of Distinguished Service in Science and Technology.
Sir Kim was a pioneering science and technology leader who struggled to present the vision of Science Joseon even under Japanese occupation, in a situation in which Korea had the poorest science and technology environment and he endeavored to realize the vision against all odds. The Establishment of Science Joseon that he proposed, continued on in Korea after him as the vision of National Foundation on Science and Technology, Technology-driven Development, Science and Technology Led Society, etc. That spirit continues on today in the current journal Science Korea. In this context, Sir Kim was is the godfather of all those who later strove to establish policies for excellence in Korean science and technology. It was Sir Kim who first dared to dream of a blueprint for a Science Korea.