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|Born||12 September 1964|
Jeonju, North Jeolla Province
|Revised Romanization||I Wangjun|
Lee Wang-jun is a South Korean physician, a hospital operator, and a media expert. Born in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, on Sept. 12, 1964. Lee currently serves as chairman of Myongji Hospital and publisher of “The Korean Doctors’ Weekly”.
Lee was born in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. His father Lee Hak-yeon (1932-2001) was an internal medicine doctor who ran a clinic in Jeonju. His mother Eun Jong-in was an educational expert and feminist. His grandfather Lee Jong-pyo was a famous educational expert in North Jeolla Province.
Seeing his father working as a doctor from childhood, Lee dreamed of becoming a doctor in early years. He excelled in academic performance as well. When he was 19, he topped the scholastic ability test in North Jeolla Province in 1982 and entered the nation’s top-ranking Seoul National University’s College of Medicine. After the admission, however, he was overwhelmingly inspired by social science books and joined the students’ movement against the military government through ‘night school(야학, unofficial study group for laborers or adolescents ran by university students)’ activities. For involving in the activities of the National Salvation Students’ Union(구학련) in 1986, Lee was arrested and imprisoned for six months. He was charged with violating the National Security Law.
After the jail term, Lee returned to school, continued his studies, graduated from the medical school and became a physician. As soon as he obtained a medical license, however, he initiated the foundation of then-monthly newspaper “The Korean Doctors’ Weekly”, under the slogan, “Reflection and Reform of the Korean Medical Care.” After founding the newspaper with the capital money of 50 million won, on the back of medical school students and more than 350 young doctors, Lee and scores of his colleague interns and residents often worked all night long to make the newspapers. In 1994, Lee participated in the production of MBC’s successful medical TV drama “General Hospital.” Lee was the real model for the drama’s main character Dr. Kim Do-hoon, played by actor Lee Jae-ryong. The TV drama also referenced much of its stories from the book “Young Doctors at General Hospital” that Lee wrote as a representative author.
Lee became a surgeon in 1997, after completing the residency at Seoul National University Hospital’s general surgery department. However, he could not land a job. Major conglomerates such as Hanbo Steel, Sammi Steel, Jinro Group, and Kia collapsed as the country was hit by the Asian financial crisis in late 1997. The national crisis, however, served as an opportunity for Lee. He abruptly received a suggestion that he could take over a bankrupt hospital. The hospital was checkered with many problems such as labor disputes, shortage of medical staffs, and snowballing debts. People around Lee said it was not a good idea. He did not even have money for an acquisition. However, he finally managed to take over the hospital and opened the Incheon Sarang Hospital in November 1998. At the age of 34, Lee became the youngest head of a general hospital in Korea. The Incheon Sarang Hospital kept growing to become a representative medical institution in Incheon, with more than 400 sickbeds and 60 specialists.
After Lee acquired Myongji Hospital in 2009, he earned his nickname, “a hospital-fixing doctor.” Run by Myongji Academy, the hospital was put up for sale due to losses. Although the hospital was affiliated with a medical school, it had too much debt and a gloomy outlook. However, Lee took over the hospital with the large debt, despite the opposition from everyone around him. The Chosun Ilbo called Lee’s acquisition as “a shrimp(small hospital)’s eating up a whale (a university-affiliated large hospital).”
Since Lee’s acquisition, Myongji Hospital transformed itself. In seven years, its revenue grew 100 percent. The size of the hospital expanded to a 700-bed one from the 500-bed one, with additional facilities such as emergency care center, integrated cancer treatment center, liver center, dementia center, and art therapy center.
Lee’s experimental spirit led various new facilities to success. They include a forest-like health check center, Asia’s first “cerebrovascular disease hybrid center,” a cancer center with customized treatments to meet the personal tastes of patients, an amusement park-resembling child emergency room, a commemorative ward to pay tribute to Korean-Japanese architect Jun Itami, and a “patient empathy center.” Myongji Hospital is cited as one of the most innovative hospitals in Korea.
Myongji Hospital stood out in 2015 when the nation was suffering from the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak. People got to know that the hospital had been voluntarily training for the emergence of a new infectious disease, one year before the infectious disease hit the country. During the 2015 outbreak, Myongji Hospital admitted five MERS patients and cured them all. There was zero infection among medical staffs. The Korean Doctors’ Weekly, established in 1992 with Lee’s leading contribution, was published monthly until 1999. From 2000, the newspaper became weekly and offered online news as well. In 2017, the paper went all digital and founded Korea Biomedical Review, an English-language news service specializing in biopharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Currently, the Korean Doctors’ Weekly publishes news through three online outlets and three audio Podcasts. It also publishes about 10 books per year.
Lee Wang-jun has been active in establishing and operating the Migrant Health Association in Korea WeFriends. In 1999, he actively involved in founding then-Medical Mutual Aid Union for Migrant Workers in Korea. In 2001, he was appointed as chairperson of the association’s steering committee. Since the association was renamed as Migrant Workers’ Health Association in Korea in 2003, Lee has been serving as vice chairman. The name of the organization changed again to Migrant Health Association in Korea in 2007. The association, Myongji Hospital, and Incheon Sarang Hospital have been engaging in medical support activities in Nepal since 2007. His interest in medical support for people in developing countries is closely associated with his thesis for a doctorate, “The Influence of Minnesota project on the Korean medical education” (2006).
Lee also worked hard as a director of the Korean Hospital Association (KHA). Since 2011, in particular, he has served as director general of the organizing committee for Korea Healthcare Congress (KHC), an international academic conference hosted by the KHA. He contributed to the KHC’s successful growth to become the largest healthcare conference in Asia. Lee’s other official positions include chairman of the Korea Medical Export Association, chairman of Korea Healthcare Design Society, president of the Korean Christian Hospitals Association, and president of Incheon City Gymnastics Association.
In late 2017, Lee drew the media’s attention again by acquiring a biotech firm MGMed.[] Listed on the tech-heavy Kosdaq, shares of MGMed spiked on the news of the acquisition. He announced a plan to transform MGMed into a developer of anti-cancer drugs. To do so, MGMed acquired Oxford Vacmedix, a U.K. biotech venture. MGMed changed its company name to CancerROP on December 13, 2017.
- 1983 Graduated from Jeolla High School
- 1992 Graduated from Seoul National University College of Medicine
- 2002 Graduated from Inha University Graduate School of Medicine (Master of Medicine)
- 2006 Graduated from Seoul National University Graduate School of Medicine (Doctor of Medicine)
- July 2009 - Present: Chairman of Myongji Medical Foundation
- Nov. 1998 - Present: Chairman of Incheon Sarang Medical Foundation
- Aug. 1999 - Present: Publisher of Korean Doctors’ Weekly
- May 2012 - Present: Policy Director of Korean Hospital Association
- 2011 - President: Director General of Organizing Committee for the Korea Healthcare Congress
- March 2014 - Present: Chairman of Korea Healthcare Design Society
- Dec. 2011 - Present: Vice Chairman of Migrant Health Association in Korea WeFriends
- Dec. 2017 - Present: Chairman of CancerROP
Research papers and books
- The Influence of Minnesota Project on Korean Medical Education” (Ph.D. thesis)
- A Man of Merit for New Influenza Response - Prime Minister's commendation (June 29, 2010)
- Contribution to the Adoption of Medical Institution Evaluation and Certification System - Awarded by Minister of Health and Welfare (November 1, 2011)
- Honorable Mentor in the College Scholastic Ability Test and College Entrance Exams - Honored by the Minister of Education, Science and Technology (Feb. 26, 2010)
- Contribution to Promotion of Cooperation in the Public Healthcare Industry between Korea and Russia - Russian Medal of Honor in Public Healthcare (June 30, 2011)
- Incheon Sarang Hospital Selected as an 'Excellent Job Creation Company in 2011' - President's Certificate (Jan 13, 2012)
- http://khnews.kheraldm.com/view.php?ud=20180128000065&md=20180130003216_BL Beyond health care, hospitals becoming central part of biopharma business ecosystem
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