By Choe Chong-dae
For over four decades, I’ve had the honor of writing for The Korea Times, covering a wide array of topics. From diplomatic history to cultural exploration, democratization and philanthropy, my goal has been to offer readers a unique perspective on the world. The positive feedback from readers worldwide has underscored the importance of promoting cultural understanding through writing.
In my article titled “Tribute to Whitcomb,” published on Nov. 25, 2019, I highlighted the altruistic efforts of Brig. Gen. Richard S. Whitcomb (1894-1982). He served as the commander of the U.S. 2nd Logistics Support Base in Busan during and after the 1950-53 Korean War, leaving a profound impact on readers of all ages and nationalities. Whitcomb’s legacy exemplified the timeless significance of selfless service and empathy. His commemorative statue was recently erected at Peace Park in Busan by its citizens.
Just a year ago, I had the pleasure of receiving a heartfelt letter from Dr. Song Moon-won, honorary chairman of Hyoseong Hospital in Daegu. His warm appreciation for my column on Whitcomb’s philanthropy underscored the power of storytelling to unite individuals through shared values of compassion and benevolence.
Born in 1936, Dr. Song is a distinguished medical professional with an illustrious career in obstetrics and gynecology. He embodies a spirit of service that resonates with the very essence of the narrative on Whitcomb. His journey from humble beginnings to becoming a renowned figure in the field of medicine exemplifies the transformative impact of dedication and perseverance. Our recent meeting in Seoul, despite the variance in our public profiles and ages, highlighted the enriching exchange that occurs when individuals from different walks of life come together to share their unique perspectives.
Obtaining a Ph.D. from the College of Medicine at National Kyungpook University in 1969, Song dedicated his career to academia. He held esteemed positions at renowned medical institutions, including chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Watertown Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin during his academic pursuit for two decades in the U.S.
Upon returning to Korea in 1990, he assumed the role of an obstetrics and gynecology specialist and chairman of the medical office for foreigners at Hyoseong Hospital. During his tenure, he actively fostered relationships with the Wood Medical Clinic at Camp Walker in Daegu and the 18th Medical Command. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in advancing medical education, serving as a clinical professor at Kyungpook National University — his alma mater — and Keimyung University, also in Daegu.
Remarkably, his family history is distinguished by a legacy of medical excellence. His father, Song Myung-do (1906-2000), was a trailblazing figure in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, renowned for his contributions as a distinguished professor at the College of Medicine in Pyongyang University. However, the outbreak of the Korean War prompted their harrowing escape from North Korea. Despite the challenges he faced, he exhibited unwavering resilience and determination, eventually establishing a thriving medical practice in Daegu. He played a pioneering role in the development of the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology when he served as chairman of the society from 1977 to the mid-1980s.
This remarkable journey exemplifies the enduring dedication of the Song family to serve and uplift the community.
As I reflect on the convergence of our paths and the resonance of our shared values, I am reminded that the power of storytelling extends beyond narratives. It has the potential to bridge divides, foster empathy and inspire generations to carry forward the torch of compassion and understanding. In a world that often highlights differences, our meeting stands as a testament to the universal language of empathy that unites humanity.
In this era of rapid globalization and interconnectedness, let us continue to celebrate the stories that bind us together, transcending borders and generations and fostering a more compassionate and understanding world, and contribute more inspiring articles.
Choe Chong-dae ([email protected]) is a guest columnist of The Korea Times. He is president of Dae-kwang International Co., and director of the Korean-Swedish Association.