Travelling to different places, one sometimes comes across a village where one finds a place where people come for comfort as they are well taken care of by good people. One finds such a place in Yongdu-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul. It is the Baekundang Oriental Medicine Hospital. Director Kim Yeong-sup of Baekundang is a good friend, a mentor and almost a ‘family member’ to all the people living in the area. Doctor Kim is the 13th-generation offspring of the Doctor Kim Family known for a tradition to look after people well. The Korea Post recently interviewed Dr. Kim. Here are excerpts:
Question: I understand that you are a specialist in kidney diseases.
Answer: There have been active studies on the kidney at the Western medical circles since the medical insurance system was started in Korea. I learned the importance of the kidney from my grandfather. Generally, kidney is known to play the role of a sewage system in the human body. Kidney plays a much more important role. Kidney is closely related with hormones, including the growth hormone of children, blood pressure adjustment hormone, waste treatment hormone and sex hormone. One with a weak kidney finds oneself weak in one’s sex life. In fact, many people come to me with fertility problems. One with a male potency problem must have one’s kidney checked.
Q: I hear that you use 12 different seeds and Chimhyang (Aquilaria) in treating kidney patients. Would you like to introduce them?
A: All plants yield seeds. In human body, the kidney could be compared to a seed. Sperm comes from the kidney. You might have heard the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Seeds of plants and human kidney ‘flock together.’ I use 12 different kinds of seeds that include those of Omija (magnolia), Chinese matrimony, raspberry and Nelumbo Nucifera.
Q: What are the common symptoms of kidney disease?
A: The problem with kidney diseases is that they do not have clear symptoms. However, you can suspect having a kidney problem when your hands and feet suddenly feel cold, when you suddenly feel tired or when your body feels cold. Sometimes you also find your eyes, hands and feet swollen up. It is also a signal related with kidney problems. When people feel tired, doctors suspect a problem with their liver, but it is more related with the kidney.
Q: In the Oriental medicine, I hear that there are ‘Four-trigram constitution’ and ‘Eight-trigram constitution’ classifying the constitution of a human body. Do people with these different types of constitution need different diet fitting their constitution?
A: They say that it is good to have food and beverage according to their different constitution. However, I would say that it is important to have a balanced diet. All the same, there are two different types of men, namely a cold-type constitution and a warm-type constitution. A person with the cold-type constitution must stay away from cold food and beverage. Otherwise, the person gets a problem. Likewise, a person with warm-type constitution should be careful with warm food and beverage. The intestines in a human body must maintain a level of temperature. Human body has temperatures between 36 and 40 degrees centigrade. If one has one degree lower than the normal temperature one should consult a doctor. In this case, cold food or beverage must not be taken. Even when you feel like to take a cold food or beverage, you must stay away from them because your organs need warm food and beverage. In contrast, one with a warm-type constitution needs cold food and beverage.
Q: We understand that you have received many citations, including two National Orders. Would you introduce the representative ones?
A: I have the Order of Civil Merit Mongnyon and a Culture Medal offered by the President of the Republic of Korea for my public welfare services, another Presidential Citation, a Grand Peace Award from the government of Taiwan for medical service, and a Top Prize for my paper on the Culture of Dragon. I have also received a ‘Proud Citizen’s Award.’
Q: What is the ‘Dragon Culture’?
A: After I was elected a member of the local council in 1991, I restored the Dragon Prayer Rite which the kings hosted in the past in supplication for rain during drought seasons, which was later renamed ‘Blue Dragon Culture Rite.’ In the process of researching I collected materials and based on them I published a paper entitled ‘Dragon Culture.’
Q: What does “Blue Dragon’ mean?
A: Blue means east, east gate and youth (in the life of man), and therefore ‘the beginning’ of everything. A book was published containing the details of the Blue Dragon Culture Rite.
Q: There are many traces and signs indicating your love for your birthplace. It is truly moving. You mentioned that in addition to the seeds you use Chimhyang. It was our understanding that Chimhyang was a part of Buddhist culture. As a specialist in Chimhyang, would you introduce it to our readers as the term is not very common among the ordinary people?
A: Chimhyang (Aquilaria) means ‘cedar tree immersed in water.’ Cedar is a semi-tropical plant and Chimhyang is the resin of the cedar tree formed through hundreds of years. The rosaries used by the Catholic Church are made with Chimhayng and the rosary used by Sakaya Muni was also made with Chimhyang.
Chimhyang played a part in the prosperous Buddhism in Asia. Chimhyang was used in Korea during the Three Kingdom Period at the courts. And the medicinal efficacy of Chimyang is recorded in Dongui Bogam (traditional Korean medicine book) and Bencao Gangmu (traditional medicine book of China).
Chimhyang is known to be especially good for many different types of cancer and other chronical diseases. I must say that I am the only person who has adequately covered Chimhayng in a book. The MBC TV covered Chimhyang and me in a documentary program which I am sure would give you some idea about Chimhyang. The price of Chimhyang varies very widely and sells for several thousand won for one gram but for millions of won for the same quantity. I am afraid that there still might be some dishonest persons who import cheap Chimhyang and then sell them here for very high prices. Some of the expensive perfumes admired by consumers contain Chimhyang.
Interviewer’s Note: Doctor Kim gives the impression of a renowned specialist in Oriental medicine, who gives one ease of the mind even at a simple meeting and conversation. With the fragrance of the Chimhyang tea still inside my mouth, I felt as if I were meeting with a Saint. Throughout the interview fragrance of Chimhyang filled the room and I felt as if it was replacing the contaminated Gi in me with a clean and fresh one. It was hard to believe that anyone could continue the same profession for the 13th generation. For what he has done, one gets the impression that Doctor Kim Yeong-sup is moving one pace closer to receiving a Nobel Prize in Medicine. Leaving the Baekundang Oriental Medicine Hospital, I felt as if I had become a bit healthier than when I came.
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