ajunews Monday,26 February 2024

S. Korea's iconic trauma surgeon becomes head of military hospital  

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : December 28, 2023, 13:47 Updated : December 28, 2023, 14:23
Yonhap News Photo
[Yonhap News Photo]
SEOUL -- Lee Guk-jong, South Korea's iconic trauma surgeon who performed life-saving surgery on a North Korean soldier severely wounded by multiple gunshots during a surprise escape through the truce village of Panmunjeom to South Korea in 2017, was selected to lead one of the largest military hospitals in the country. 

Lee currently works at Ajou University Hospital in Suwon south of Seoul. The medical professor also performed emergency surgery on Seok Hae-kyun, the former captain of a South Korean ship hijacked in the western Indian Ocean by Somali pirates in 2011. Seok was shot in the stomach when South Korea's Navy was carrying out a rescue mission against the pirates. South Korea's defense forces appointed the surgeon as an honorary Navy lieutenant for his contributions.

According to the Ministry of National Defense on December 27, Lee was selected as director of the Armed Forces Daejeon Hospital and was promoted to honorary Navy captain. The military hospital in South Korea's central city of Daejeon is regarded as a major medical facility for soldiers along with the Armed Forces Capital Hospital in Seongnam, a southeastern satellite city of Seoul. 

"I will faithfully perform my responsibilities as the director of the Armed Forces Daejeon Hospital to support soldiers who are devoting themselves to the country to maintain their health during their service," Lee said. Since August 2022, the doctor has been serving as the defense ministry's official advisor, guiding military medical policies.

Lee also made contributions to the operation of emergency medical helicopters, known as "Doctor Helicopters," in Gyeonggi Province. Although Doctor Helicopters run by South Korean hospitals offered quick medical services on the spot, they couldn't fly at night mainly because of safety and government regulations. He has demanded state support to operate doctor helicopters, leading to a voluntary petition. After the public petition, the Gyeonggi Provincial Government allowed the operation of the medical helicopters for 24 hours in 2018.

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