Ambassador Mohammed Chraibi of Morocco and ambassadors of many other countries visited Asia’s largest Kim’s Eye Hosptial (KEH) in Yeongdungpo District in southern Seoul last Friday (Sept. 9, 2015) with their spouses, and had a rare opporunity to personelly inspect and learn how patients were treated with ultr-modern, sophisticated equipnment and facilities. Furthermore, many of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps also had an opprotunity to have their eyes checked by Korea’s leading ophthalmolosits, including Director Mrs. Yong-lan Kim of Kim’s Eye Hosptial, Deputy Director Jae-woo Jang (Korea’s leading oculoplastic surgeon) and many other well-known ophthalmolotical specialists.
KEH, unlike other eye hospitals, had a number of separate centers each specializing in its field, which included the Retina Hospital, the Cornea Center, the Cataract Center, the Lasic Center, the Glaucoma Center, the Oculoplastic Center and the Strabismus Center. Each center, literally, was a fair-sized hospital in itself in terms of scale and size.
The visiting ambassadors and other diplomats undergoing the eye check-up filed a check list in advance of the examination which was very much in detail, and included the following: (1) Have you recently experienced any discomfort regarding your eyes?, (2) Have you ever been diagnosed with an ocular diseases?, (3) Ophthalmologic diseases are often closely related to underlying systemic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes or other diseases? (4) Have you ever been treated or diagnosed with any of the following such diseases? (5) If you wear glasses, do you find your glasses comfortable?
The examination of each diplomat took 15 to 5 minutes and whoever was found needing medication was given appropriate medicine for several days. In addition, Director Kim presented each guest with a box of ophthalmic solution (sodium hyaluronate) for the comfort of the eyes which is useful for the residents in the pollution-filled air in large cities as Seoul.
Earlier at a welcome ceremony, Director Kim said, “Kim’s Eye Hospital was founded in 1962 by the president of the Hospital, my father, in the conviction that “Whoever has a problem with eyes must be able to get treatment at any time.” This “at any time” in the case of KEH meant “24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year” (editor’s interpolation).
Then she said, “This philosophy has been adhered to for the past 50-plus years and we have grown to an ophthalmological hospital which promotes the health of the eyes and which leads the development of ophthalmology.” (See excerpts from her speech toward the end of this article.)
In response to the welcome speech, Ambassador Chraibi of Morocco, dean of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps said, “I understand that this hospital has close ties of cooperation with several countries. In this regard, I encourage you to promote cooperation and partnership with more countries, including those represented here today.”
Presentation of welcome and welcome speeches was followed by Ambassador Chraibi’s presentation of a Plaque of Appreciation to Director Kim, which read in part: “I present this Plaque of Appreciation to Honorable Director Yong-lan Kim of KEH on behalf of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps for the invitation of us to the tour of the Hospital, which greatly contributes to our understanding of the Korean ophthalmological medical industry as well as promotion of friendship and cooperation between Korea and our countries.”
The welcome ceremony and eye check-up were followed by a luncheon hosted by
Joining the ceremony and also at the luncheon was Vice President Mrs. Shin Sook-won of Konyang University where the president was Dr. Hi-soo Kim, father of Director Kim. VP Shin is well known for her prominent role in the publication of the international cookbook entitled ‘Dinner with Ambassadors’ that contained the national dishes of a total of 67 countries introduced by the wives of the ambassadors 15 years ago in October 2000 with Mrs. Christine Bosworth (American ambassador in Seoul)*. It was when Ambassador Alfredo Ungo of El Salvador was the dean of the Diplomatic Corps with whom The Korea Post organized a tour of the Hyundai Heavy Industries with 120 other ambassadors and spouses. The cookbook on the table had the delicacies of Morocco just in front of Ambassador and Mrs. Chraibi of Morocco who was the dean of the visiting ambassadors and other diplomats that day. The cookbook was a great work.
“So,” said Mrs. Lahlou (chairperson of the Ambassadors’ Spouses Association in Seoul), “now you know women do great things and sometimes emulate the men.” This was the remarks she had made at an interview a few days before on the topic of President Park Geun-hye, Madam Yook Young-soo and Madam Shin Saimdang of the Joseon Dynasty, when she said, “Behind every successful man there is a woman.” Mrs. Lahlou made all the ladies happy at the luncheon as well as Director Kim and Vice President Mrs. Shin.
Deputy Director Jae-woo Jang of the Hospital offered a toast to the good health of the eyes of the all the guests with ‘Wihayo’ which was repeated by the guests. Many foreigners what ‘Wihahyo’ means although it is frequently cried out at parties in a toast and repeated by the guests at parties. It means ‘For the sake of…’ where the following words or phrases are omitted for redundancy or repetition because the toast offer has already said the wishes such as success or good health. ‘Wihayo’ came into being during the early days of the successful economic development plans carried by the late President Park Chung-hee in the 1960s and 1970s when the wishes included ‘economic reconstruction’ and a ‘self-reliant national defense.’
Welcome remarks by Director Yong-ran Kim of KEH:
His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Chraibi of the Kingdom of Morocco, Excellencies, Madams, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Kim’s Eye Hospital. I am Yong-ran Kim, director of Kim’s Eye Hospital.
I would like to extend my heart-felt welcome to all the distinguished guests here who have kindly taken time out of their busy schedule to visit our Hospital. My gratitude goes also to Chairman Lee Kyung-sik and other members of The Korea Post for the kind arrangement made for the tour for the Excellencies and Madams.
Kim’s Eye Hospital was founded in 1962 by the president of the Hospital, who is my father, in the conviction that “Whoever has a problem with eyes must be able to get treatment at any time.” This philosophy has been adhered to for the past 50-plus years and we have grown to an ophthalmological hospital which promotes the health of the eyes and which leads the development of ophthalmology.
Exchange among the different countries of the world has become so brisk that territorial boundaries no long have any meaning. Without such exchanges, there is no development. Diplomacy means ‘Making Good Friends’ and in this sense I think that this meeting today is a valuable occasion to further promote our mutual understanding and friendship. I hope that this meeting will prove a ‘small and yet big’ start towards forming increased friendship between the Excellencies and us at Kim’s Eye Hospital. I hope that this meeting will also help the Excellencies and Madams to understand our Hospital better and evolve into a relationship where we can provide each country with our positive support and assistance.
We have prepared a small briefing session here today where we will offer some medical tips on the eye diseases and I hope that they will be useful in your better understanding and added attention to the health of the eyes.
And we have prepared a small luncheon and I hope that you will all enjoy your time.
I also hope that the Excellencies, Madams and other Distinguished Guests here today will continue to take kind interest in us and give us a lot of encouragement.
Excerpts from the return speech by Ambassador Chraibi of Morocco:
Honorable Director Yong-ran Kim of Kim’s Eye Hospital, Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, Colleagues, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentleman,
It is a great pleasure to have this opportunity to visit Kim’s Eye Hospital, which I understand is the largest ophthalmological hospital not only in Korea but also in Asia.
I have learnt that your Hospital has the latest medical equipment and facilities for the promotion of health of the eyes. Your Hospital has a long string of firsts: over 400,000 patients are treated a year and an upwards of 23,000 patients are operated for the recovery and improvement of their eye sight by a total of 46 renowned ophthalmologists.
Kim's Eye Hospital is rated as the first in the world in terms of operation and management of a large number of specialized centers, such as the Retina Hospital, the Cornea Center, the Cataract Center, the Lasic Center, the Glaucoma Center, the Oculoplastic Center and the Strabismus Center.
This Hospital has close ties of cooperation with several countries. In this regard, I encourage you to promote cooperation and partnership with countries, including those represented here today.
There is no doubt that this type of meeting with the Korean medical establishments contribute to the promotion of understanding, cooperation and friendship between Korea and our countries.
In this sense, I am grateful to Director Yong-ran Kim of Kim’s Eye Hospital and President Hi-soo Kim of Konyang University for the kind invitation extended to us to visit and discover this meaningful medical institution. My gratitude also goes to Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post for his kind arrangement of this tour for the Diplomats.
I wish Kim’s Eye Hospital continued success and increased cooperation with all the countries of the world for the common goal?promotion of health of mankind.
Participants in the tour:
Taking part in the tour that day were Ambassadors Mohammed Chraibi of Morocco (dean of visiting members of Seoul Diplomatic Corps), Krzysztof Majka of Poland, Gracia Fiordalicia Pichardo Polanco of Dominican Republic, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan, Elizabeth Nicol of Ghana, Mumba S. Kapumpa of Zambia and Derragui Mohammed Elamine of Algeria; Charges d'Affaires Jairo Lopez of Costa Rica and Mesfin Midekssa of Ethiopia and many spouses of the ambassadors who oincluded Madams Ndeye Aissatou Faye Ndiaye (Senegal), Raheela Nasralla Khan (Pakistan) and Mah Manesh Taherian (Iran), Ana Cosmen (Sprain). Then there were Representative Mikhail Bondarenko of the Russian Trade Representation, Deputy Head of Mission Gathoga Chege of Kenya, Investment Counselor Nguyen Thi Minh Hien of Vietnam Trade official, trade officials Roman Orlov and Ms. Ella Orlov of the Russian Trade Representation and members of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Nguyen Ngoc Thang and Mrs. Dang Thi Ngoc Phuong). There also was a special guest, Rev. Jackson Ngari who led the Kenyan Community Korea and helped The Korea Post as an honorary editor.