As a Medical Doctor from the College of Medicine at Korea University, I studied neuroscience in graduate school, I have been dreaming of building a future with the internet, and I started studying neuroscience with the vague notion of the internet being a replica of the human nervous system. However, conducting experiments with rat brains made me suspect that research takes too much time to reach practice. I rather dreamed of utilizing neuroscience knowledge for ICT (Information & Communication Technology) and substantially integrating it into the exchange of medical knowledge. With this prospect in mind, I established a corporation in 2010 after finishing graduate school. In fact, this is my lifelong pursuit, yet incomplete. I expect that the story of my life will illustrate the sincerity of my vision.
The story begins 30 years ago at an apartment building in Seoul. I was born there. I weighed less than 3 kg, significantly lighter than other newborns, and had a sallow complexion. My parents were told by the gynecologist that I was not doing well at all and should be taken as soon as possible to a large hospital. At the Seoul National University Hospital, they were devastated to hear that I had two kinds of congenital heart disease and will not survive long unless an operation is started soon.
While growing up, I had three serious operations in which my heart was cut open, one after another. My doctor was more familiar to me than my homeroom teacher. At the end of 10th grade, as I looked outside the window after my third heart operation, there was a building with lights on late into the night. I asked my father and he told me that it was the medical school library where the medical students are studying to become a doctor. Those students who were able to study late into the night were my subject of envy. I wanted to study in that library, too. Falling asleep with incomprehensible syringes on my arms and legs, I was a doctor treating other children in my dream. I resolved to become one in real life as well.
The high school I attended was a boarding school in a rural area. My first challenge after the third heart operation was the half-marathon held at school. I had a mechanical valve transplantation just 3 months ago and everyone tried to stop me, but I hated to give up and eventually finished the half marathon with my surgical wounds barely healed. And for the first time in my life, I gain a confidence about my existence.
In 12th grade, in order to concentrate on studying, I moved out of the dormitory and rented a room. It was a tiny ramshackle room. My parents were living in Seoul, 4 hours’ drive away, and I had to take care of everything by myself. As I lay down to sleep at night, mice romped around in the ceiling making a fuss. Once a typhoon struck, and the ceiling collapsed; that night I studied soaked in night dew. Afterwards, I graduated from high school and enrolled in the College of Medicine at Korea University.
Six years passed and I became an M.D. Living out the daily routine, day after day, I began to perceive the huge wave of change. The world that I imagined in the children’s hospital looking at the medical school library across the window in the past has become a fiercely approaching reality. Recalling the sad memories of my childhood, of having to rush to the emergency room with the most trivial symptom, I made up my mind. I established a company with my own hands to realize my childhood aspiration of being able to meet the doctor no matter when and where.
Starting with just two computers barely an year ago, my corporation has now become the leading U-Health(Ubiquitous Health) enterprise that has 90% of the market share in smartphone applications for all Korean hospitals. More meaningful than the market share is that a practical remote medical care environment which enables more doctors to be intimately connected with patients and give aid to them has been feasibly built, and that recently the board of the Korea Medical Association showed interest and are deciding to participate. The current rate of internet medical consultation requests to my corporation by patients is no. 1 in Korea for a only-medical website. A search with the keyword ‘medical consultation’ in Korean on Google shows 8 out of 10 first-page results linked to my corporation. Surprising records difficult to enumerate are being made even at this very hour.
My name is Shin, Seung Keon. ‘Shin’ is my last name, and ‘Seung Keon’ is my first name. In ‘Seung Keon,’ the Chinese characters ‘Seung (承)’ means ‘connect’ and ‘Keon (健)’ means ‘health and steadfastness.’ Overall it means ‘Connecting the Health,’ a name my father gave me 30 years ago, to a baby whose life was fading away, so that I will grow up to become someone who connects people regarding health issues.
I can read people’s minds even if they are only three or four years younger than me. And I already know that I cannot appeal to readers from intellectuals with rhetoric and technical skills of writing. Therefore, I believe honesty is the best line I can choose. If someone gains hope for life because of me during the time I live in this world for less than a hundred years, I will be confident of having lived a proper life.
(This article was written on June, 2012.)