Doctor Lyu Keun-Chul, “Korea’s first doctor of Oriental Medicine” and KAIST professor, passed away on the afternoon of March 8 at the age of 86. Doctor Lyu had recently checked into the Sinchon Severance Hospital in Seoul after being diagnosed with cerebral infarction in January. Surgery and treatment at the hospital could not prevent the worsening of his symptoms which eventually proved fatal.
Born in 1926 in the city of Cheonan, located in Chungcheongnam-do province, Doctor Lyu first decided to pursue his career in oriental medicine “in order to escape his poverty.” He received master’s and doctorate degrees in oriental medicine at Kyunghee University before heading off to Moscow to receive his second doctorate degree in Biomedical Engineering. In proceeding years, Doctor Lyu held numerous positions at academic institutions, including his tenure as the vice-director of the oriental hospital at the Kyunghee Medical Center and assistant professor at the Kyunghee University Medical School, while also receiving an Honorary Doctor of Science from KAIST. After the world’s first successful appendectomy through acupunctural sedation in 1972, Doctor Lyu developed several health-enhancing inventions of his own that went on to obtain patents abroad. During his time as Kyunghee Medical Center’s vice-director, Doctor Lyu also founded the Oriental-Western Medical Stroke Center in an effort to bring together the two systems of medicine for the first time.
Aside from his legacy in the field of oriental medicine, Doctor Lyu is also famed for his boundless altruism and love for the student body. His charity is exemplified by his actions in 2008, when he donated real estate properties valued at 57.8 billion won. This sum is one that was unprecedented for personal donations within Korea and has yet to be outdone. On his incredible contribution to the university, Doctor Lyu said, “When I visited KAIST in 2008 and saw the students working hard on their studies, I felt assured that Korea’s future was here, and that KAIST would be the place to lead the nation’s scientific development that is so necessary for Korea to become a developed country.” As an expression of its appreciation for Doctor Lyu, KAIST named its Sports Complex completed last year after the doctor and plans on naming the new campus to be situated in Sejong city after him.
In addition to his donations, the Doctor Lyu Health Clinic and Health Research Center for the KAIST Community and Space Experts opened in 2009 for the benefit of students’ health, allowing Doctor Lyu to directly aid the student body. He has also given countless lectures and interviews to promote science technology. He was invited as a guest speaker to numerous universities nationwide and when interviewed by media networks such as MBC, KBS and SBS, Doctor Lyu always emphasized science and technology’s importance for the nation’s growth and development.
In his passing, Doctor Lyu leaves behind his widow, two sons and three daughters. A memorial service was held for three days at the Lyu Keun-Chul Sports Complex. A mortuary has also been provided by the Severance Hospital and the coffin will be borne out on the 10th.
Correction (3/17/2011): The print version of this article incorrectly calls the Health Research Center for the KAIST Community and Space Experts a "space center."