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Will 3 N. Korean doctors visit Seoul this year?
  • By Park Gi-taek
  • Published 2018.06.18 15:20
  • Updated 2018.06.21 15:52
  • comments 0

North Korean physicians might participate in an upcoming international academic conference in Seoul, a source said Monday.

What would have been an unthinkable idea in early this year could happen in November, which will allow South and North Korean doctors get together to discuss their opinions in the medical field, he said.

Kim Won-ho, president of the Asian Pacific Digestive Week 2018 (APDW 2018) Organizing Committee

Kim Won-ho, president of the Asian Pacific Digestive Week 2018 (APDW 2018) Organizing Committee, told Korea Biomedical Review that he recently invited North Korean digestive medicine specialists to the upcoming event.

“I have sent the APDW 2018 invitations to three professors at Pyongyang Medical University. I hope we could have an opportunity to talk about the latest knowledge on digestive medicine,” Kim said.

Scheduled from Nov. 15 to Nov. 18 at the Coex Convention and Exhibition Center, southern Seoul, the APDW 2018 is the largest meeting of physicians and related experts in gastroenterology in the Asia Pacific region.

The conference has been running every year since the first in Singapore in 2003. The November event will be the second to take place in South Korea since 2005.

“It is not well known that North Korean physicians have published their papers in Science Citation Index (SCI)-level journals recently. In a gastroenterology journal, three professors of Pyongyang Medical University published a paper recently,” Kim said.

Although Kim has not had any exchange with Pyongyang Medical University professors, he thought he would give it a try this time amid the thawing inter-Korean relations followed by the inter-Korean summit and the North Korea-U.S. summit, he added.

Kim is also actively engaging in the Association of Healthcare for Korean Unification (AHKU). To invite the three North Korean professors, he obtained approval from the South Korean government to contact North Koreans.

“Ten days have passed since I sent the invitations via e-mail addresses written on the journal and I have not received any reply yet,” Kim said. “Although there are more chances that they might not accept the invitation, I do not want to give up. I will send an e-mail one more time this week to encourage their participation. If we keep inviting them like this, inter-Korean academic exchanges might naturally take place in the private sector.”

K-pop one of options to promote APDW 2018

As the APDW has become one of Asia’s leading digestive medicine conferences, Kim said he would make the upcoming event a place where many Asian experts can share exchanges.

Under the theme, “Connecting Excellence on Gastroenterology and Hepatology,” the APDW 2018 will comprise of various academic programs to see the development of digestive medicine in Asia Pacific region at a glance.

With the opening on Nov. 15, the APDW 2018 will invite 350 speakers in eight departments to offer the newest knowledge.

The conference will also have a live demonstration session for digestive endoscopes by domestic and foreign hospitals including Asan Medical Center, Severance Hospital, Samsung Medical Center, China’s PLA General Hospital, India’s Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, and Hong Kong’s Prince of Wales Hospital.

At the “Hands-on Workshop,” participants will be able to try the latest devices and practice using them. Also, more than 1,000 abstracts and poster presentations will be announced. The event also gives Young Investigator Award and Posters of Distinction Award. Participants from developing countries who submit abstracts will receive “Travel Grant.”

Also, 55 companies and agencies will set up 140 booths, displaying the latest drugs and products related to gastroenterology and the latest industrial trends.

The organizers will offer various side events, including tour programs such as Seoul City Tour and Seoul Night Tour. In the official social events, the organizers will present Korean traditional performances to promote the nation’s traditions and modern beauty.

“This will not be just an academic event where only several countries attend but the one where all Asian countries participate,” Kim said. “For those who visit Korea, we are thinking about a K-pop performance, too. I hope not only Korean, but all Asian experts in digestive medicine could attend the event.”


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