Do You Think Diabetes Is A Minor Issue? Korean Diabetes Association Leader Dr. Kim Jae Hyeon Doesn’t Think So
Korean Diabetes Association leader Dr. Kim Jae Hyeon doesn’t think so
The Korean Diabetes Association (KDA) was started over 50 years ago, right after the end of Japanese colonization of Korea in 1945. Today, its founding members are in their 80s and 90s. They were trained under the Japanese education system in the old methods. In current times, the KDA has drastically changed, where the new generations are educated in modern education through European and US influence.
Similar to other countries, the purpose of the KDA is to cure, prevent and protect, and manage diabetes, as well as, to develop related academic programs. In the case of the American Diabetes Association, it leads the global fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes.
KDA members are specialists, doctors, and nurses. The organization has approximately 10,000 members. In addition, diabetics have a separate organization and similarly they have approximately 10,000 members.
Diabetes symptoms come from the consequences of eating because of the underlying metabolic problems. Where the stability of the blood glucose level changes, other serious complications arise in the body, Dr. Jae Hyeon Kim explained. Either increasing or decreasing glucose and insulin levels will occur in diabetes. Insulin is a protein produced in the pancreas which decreases blood glucose and the endocrine system is the main component of diabetes, which causes serious eye, kidney and blood circulation problems.
Most of the cases of diabetes in western countries come from overeating and the lack of exercise. Usually, fat persons are found to have diabetes.
The latest figures in Korea show that 50% of diabetics are fat and the numbers are likely to increase in the future. The other 50% are lean, but have abnormal body weight, lack of exercise, genetic problems, and there are environmental factors such as toxin in foods, agricultural chemicals, and parathions.
There are approximately 6 million diabetes patients in Korea; among them, 600,000 use insulin and 400,000 cases are the autoimmune type. Interestingly, infants can also get diabetes because of an autoimmune imbalance (within the body) and occupy around 10% of the cases in Korea.
Whereas western people develop large amounts of insulin, Asian people develop smaller amounts of insulin, and in the case of Africans, they develop diabetes because of lack of food.
Diabetes as a human rights issue
In Korea, diabetes patients were looked down upon and were not thought of as ordinary people, compared to western countries where diabetes patients have been treated well and there has been much concern for them as patients. Unfortunately, in Korea, there was a tendency to see diabetes patients as lazy, and people did not want to mingle with them.
Moreover, diabetes patients were not allowed to join the military services in Korea. As a consequence, they could not get a job. There was a specific policy that whomever did not serve in the military, could not get a job in Korea. Apart from that issue, any other jobs from other companies were scarce as well. The society totally neglected them on the grounds of their diabetes, subsequently they were not able to lead normal lives, Dr. Kim lamented.
Even cancer and HIV patients have received support from the Korean Government such as free medicines, but diabetics received nothing in the past. Society is changing for the better. It is important to know that it is not dangerous to be in a relationship with, and mingle with diabetics, such as talking, shaking hands, and any communication. Also, have a sexual relationship cannot transmit diabetes, said Dr Kim. Diabetics can live the same as ordinary people.
The KDA has approximately 100 central committee members. It has 10 departments and each department has 10 subcommittee members, as well as regional level committees, nationwide.
Dr. Jae Hyeon Kim is Vice-Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Korean Diabetes Association in 2011. He graduated in medical science in 1995 with a government scholarship, spent four years in internal medicine until 2000, and received an MD/PhD in endocrinology in 2005 and 2007, respectively, from Seoul National University. Currently, he is serving as Associate Professor at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine. He has two daughters.