Yes, the calls from Seoul by two close friends this morning brought me so many memories on 권이혁 교수님, flooding my brain all day today.  As talked with my wife over the lunch, I was simply lucky to have him not only as my first mentor from my premedical school/의예과 days but also as my personal adviser through the medical school days and ever after through my entire career together with 사모님/정기자 여사.


Indeed, I do not hesitate to choose 권이혁 교수님as THE one and only 선배 who gave the utmost influence/helps throughout my career with such unique relationship to help me make many crucial decisions properly and especially사모님 gave such unconditional support, encouragement, and persuasion during my agonizing period at 삼성병원, who also passed away more than 10 years ago after the massive stroke.


As a matter of fact, without repeated assurances by 교수님on my plan to come back to Korea to start a new career based on 삼성병원/성균관 의대, I would have not dared to make such bold decision against many close American colleagues’ warning- my former senior partner and co-founder of the transplant-vascular program at Georgetown U, Charlie Currier thought I was crazy to make such fatal(?) gambling, demanding me for the psychiatric evaluation before he consented to my departure to Korea! -.  


Anyhow, my personal relationship with 권 교수님 goes back to my 의예과 시절 when I had such a difficult time- I never wanted to become a physician but the attorney all along my high school days-. Besides, he gave me such crucial personal advice on my private family affair/dispute with my father and accommodated me to stay at his house at 돈암동 and further at his in law’s house during the disputes, arranged by 사모님/정기자 여사, my eldest sister’s 경기여고 classmate.


Throughout my medical school days, he also remained as my personal adviser giving many critical bits of help – he was 학생과장 started under 명주완 학장-; he called me to Busan on the first week of summer vacation of the first year of medical school days to rush back to Seoul to get the interview for the contest to become selected as the representative of Korea to WAY (World Assembly of Youth) to go to Ghana, Africa, as arranged by 외무부 방교과. Without his timely bits of help, I would have not had such an eye-opening opportunity to see the world.


Besides, 권 교수님gave me another crucial help when I attempted to resign the position at SNU 외과교실 to extend my official trip to MCV/Richmond limited for two years only for the fellowship so that I could start a new venture of American residency training for the vascular surgery as well. As문교부 장관, he arranged the negotiation with SNU/ 서울대 본부 to allow me to resign instead of being fired by the regulation and stay further in the States as I wished.


He further kept me under his wing even after I had such bitter dispute with SNUH through humiliating negotiation – SNU refused to give an additional credit of my hard-earned American residency training on my return to SNU and asked me to start from the position where I left for the States as an instructor!- and gave up the original plan to come back to SNU. And whenever he had a chance to come to the States, he never failed to call me/my wife not to give up the plan to come back to Korea and spared one evening to have dinner with us when he should come to Washington DC.


Interestingly, when 한용철 교수 brought up the 삼성병원/성균관 의대 plan, he insisted me to accept the invitation as ‘now or never’ chance,  with regret if I should reject, on contrary to the earlier plan to come back to Asan Hospital under 민병철 교수 with 홍창기 선배. Indeed, I owe him immensely throughout my tenure in Seoul and he as성균관대학교 이사장constantly encouraged me not to give up in the middle – I almost decided to quit to come back home to the Hopkins twice - with such unconditional support together with 사모님, I miss most.


Nevertheless, after 사모님 got the stroke, he had a rough time emotionally as well as physically though his second daughter and 둘째 사위 – 이명묵 교수 (he helped me to found 순환기의공학학회 and later became the president of the Society, I am so proud of) - took him to their quarter to give such perfect care. He remained active holding the office at 녹십자 for many years sparing the luncheon hour to go out to share so many interesting sagas with the juniors and I recall he had a 일가견 to Chinese cuisine no one can match.


Since his son, 권윤택 settled in California- I remember 윤택 who had an internship at NYU with the help of 하상배 선배님, took the dermatology as the specialty - years ago, my personal communication with him has been disconnected but I am sure 윤택 is now retired like others somewhere in California.


Lastly, many get a wrong impression with prejudice to 권 교수님 as a politician since he served as 장관 for three different departments: 문교부, 보사부, and 환경처 but he was very very academic in the field of public health – I believe one of the books he edited is still used as a textbook for the public health - and was very knowledgeable even in the field of Nobel prize surprisingly - I recall he gave such long lecture on the historical background as well as a current condition over the dinner to me and my wife until 사모님 stopped him.


He never admits saying I am ‘too old to do’ and remains as a model of ‘positive attitude to the life’.  I miss him, praying for the eternal peace to him.


BB Lee

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