A Noted Traditional Korean Medical Doctor, Byun Chung-hwan is Writing New Donguibogam
A Noted Traditional Korean Medical Doctor, Byun Chung-hwan is Writing New Donguibogam
  • Kim Sung-mi (info@koreaittimes.com)
  • 승인 2012.03.07 20:23
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DAEGU, KOREA — Dr. Byun Chung-hwan, founder and honorary president of Daegu Haany University, was on the verge of opening his own traditional Korean medical clinic.His competence as a medical professional was proved the day before his clinic opened. A teenage girl suddenly collapsed in the street, and Dr. Byun saw her only a few meters away. People flocked around her one by one. The girl suddenly started vomiting at the mouth with her eyes turning upward. The people watched helplessly and were unsure of what to do. Dr. Byun pushed his way through the crowd and held her wrist to check for a pulse. It turned out was suffering from epilepsy. He then rushed to his clinic and came back with acupuncture needles. After treating the teenager, she later regained consciousness and stood up. The crowd gave a round of applause and was amazed at what they had seen. The teenage girl soon walked into the crowd and left without a sign of appreciation or gratitude for what this doctor had done. This anecdote spread like wildfire. On the very day his clinic opened, he was outnumbered with patients who even waited outside the clinic for a checkup. Some of them who traveled from afar had to stay in nearby hotels. Dr. Byun eventually had to relocate and expand his facility to care for more people.

Dr. Byun Chung-hwan treats a patient with acupuncture.

Sometimes reality seems more fictitious than a fiction itself, especially since this event took place just one day before the opening of his first clinic. Dr. Byun is also referred as the “Divine Needle (Shin-Chim in Korean)”and a notable and respected doctor who once treated Indonesia’s former President Megawati and other prestigious individuals from Korea and overseas. His book “Past difficulties, into bright world “presented another story.    

It happened in 1973 when Dr. Byun attended the 56th Lions Club International Convention held in Miami, FL, USA. One night, a Chief Executive who was leading his group knocked on the door. He said that one of his members was sick. There were many doctors travelling with Dr. Byun, some who studied western medicine. They all realized that he was suffering from kidney stones and needed an urgent operation at the hospital.

Although he had a tight schedule he was looking for a miracle from Dr. Byun. The patient was in terrible pain. The “Divine Needle” pulled out his needle box and began inserting them in various parts of his body, which ultimately stopped his wails of pain and induced him to a deep sleep. People say that he woke up the next day and walked around as if nothing had happened. Afterwards, doctors who once belittled him even asked for his acupunctural medical advice.

In 1975, he was staying in New York for the International Symposium on Acupuncture. There, dozens of unknown Korean-Americans visited him for his Godly Needle, which made him famous. He could not tell any of his patients no, which encouraged more and more people to visit him. Because of all the commotion, the hotel complained of such a chain of bizarre events. 


Pioneer for the Succession of Traditional Haany-hak: Dreaming of the “Globalization of Haany-hak”

He was born in 1932 in Cheong-do, Kyungsangbuk-do. His grandfather who was also a traditional Korean medical doctor (Haany in Korean) inspired him to follow in his footsteps. He began teaching Dr. Byun about Chinese characters and Haany-hak (traditional Korean medical study) at only 5 years old. He was able to fully understand the Seven Chinese Classics; the Four Books, Three Classics and The Book of Change (of ancient China). The consulting and treatment history in Chinese that was handed down from generation to generation also helped his study. Eventually, he entered Korea’s only school of oriental medicine at the time, Dong-Yang Oriental Medical College. This oriental medicine-focused institute later integrated into the Oriental Medicine Department at Kyung-Hee University 

Noted Haany, Byun Chung-hwan Creates New Donguibogam

Dr. Byun Chung-hwan, founder and honorary president of Daegu Haany University

Dr. Byun devoted his entire life to correct the image of Haany-hak. He says “I was convinced, while I was treating such prestigious clients from overseas, that Haany-hak will soon take a leap into a world-class medical theory. “ For this, he has prepared the globalization of Haany-hak in order to create a favorable condition in Korea. As of now its credit is barely acceptable, but aims to obtain recognition from the international community.

Dr. Byun’s effortful feat is that Haany-hak(漢醫學); Han’s Oriental Medicine has been replaced with Haany-hak(韓醫學); Traditional Korean Medicine. These two words have the same pronunciation in Korean but have different meaning. Han(漢) means ancient Chinese dynasty and Han(韓) means Korea. Even 30 years ago, people did not really understand what Han(漢) or Han(韓) meant. During the Japanese occupation, they changed the Korean term “Han” to the Chinese word “Han“to belittle Haany-hak and take away the meaning of true traditional Korean Medicine. At that time, many people did not have a clear understanding of Haany-hak. Therefore, Dr. Byun turned things around by publishing his book “The Pulse of Haany“ in the 1980s. His claims were reflected though the reform of medical law in 1986. However its level of recognition was not affected. 


Haany-hak is Systematic and Scientific

The Haany-hak first originated 700 years ago during the Jo-seon dynasty. One of the two well-known books is “Eui-bang Yu-chi (Classified Collection of Medical Prescriptions), which is Asia’s largest medical encyclopedia of all 266 volumes. The other oriental medical text is “Donguibogam (The Principles and Practices of Eastern Medicine) “which was written by Heo Jun. This book contains all 25 volumes could provide evidence that proves traditional Korean medicine is the result of carefully accumulated clinical experiences. Western medicine started its circulation in Korea around the end of the Jo-seon Dynasty. There exists a large time gap, nearly 700 years between the two. This is why it would be a fatal mistake to say that some people disregard Traditional Korean medicine as just an unscientific home remedy.

Dr. Byun stressed the fact that “one should not apply the same barometer to both western medicine and oriental medicine.”

Which side should we choose Before American Missionary Horace Newton Allen’s appearance, Haany-hak was the only medicine that cared for the sickly. Throughout history, a number of famous doctors, including Heo Jun, left their mark. His book “Donguibogam” was one of 17th century’s best medical books; much so, that even a Chinese king also indulged in it. This also indicates Haany-hak’s prestigious name and position at the time. Then why is it that today’s Haany-hak is getting a raw deal as if it were an illegitimate part of medical industry A hasty verdict like “Haany-hak is unscientific,“ on the idea that it applies to a cold, because, Haany-hak, on the contrary, is rather scientific itself and is quite systematic.  

Haany-hak defines a cold as the symptom of Sanghan(cold hurt) which means that someone gets hurt by being cold. According to Haany-hak’s Sanghan theory, there are 6 different stages for cold development and subsequent symptoms differ on a daily basis and require various treatments. Additionally, Hanbang, which is a traditional Korean medical treatment, takes all factors into account. For example, a patient’s gender, job, physical constitution, and the cause of disease can correspond to 96 cold-related treatments. Even a pregnant woman needs a different remedy for each elapsing month since the way of achieving harmony between humans and Mother Nature varies. Haany-hak’s philosophy sees the human body as one small space that must be in balance with nature and results in such diversity. Now Haany-hak does not look the same. The weight coming from its undeniably, long and widely expanded time frame and tradition gives it a lofty feeling. Dr. Byun stressed the fact that “one should not apply the same barometer to both western medicine and oriental medicine.” He believes “oriental medicine is the best for internal treatment while western medicine best suits external treatment.” 


Traditional Korean Medicine, the competitive Oriental Medicine in Northeast Asia

Dr. Byun said “Haany-hak is the most advanced oriental medical study among many traditional practices in the Northeast Asian region.” He continued “foreign patients from Japan and Taiwan constantly visit Daegu Haany University Hospital seeking traditional Korean medical treatment. In Japan, there is no educational system that can train and produce doctors of oriental medicine, while China and Taiwan is considered inferior to that of Korea in terms of quality education in the traditional medicine field.” He explains that Japan gave up on their traditional medicine when they were introduced to western medicine by the Netherlands.  China and Taiwan lost track of such medical lineage during the tumultuous period of modernization. He explains the reason why traditional Chinese medicine actually receives more attention and recognition overseas; the Chinese Government provides overwhelming financial support while the Korean Government provides little support.  

Noted Haany, Byun Chung-hwan Creates New Donguibogam

Je-Han Traditional Korean medical clinic

 in Deagu

Approaching 80, Dr. Byun retired from his Presidential position and re-opened “Je-Han Oriental Medical clinic“at Bongsan-dong, Junggu in Daegu. Restoring his role as clinic chief, he has plenty of time to do research and study. He is the 3rd generation in his family to study traditional Korean medicine since his grandfather. He is currently working on his new book “New Donguibogam“ with the clinical experiences in which all three generations have been involved. This book, aiming for the globalization of Haany-hak, is the most critical piece of work for Dr. Byun.

He is now acting upon Haany-hak’s globalization; and plans to write and translate his “New Donguibogam “into three foreign languages. Up to 70 % of the book has been completed over the span of 10 years. Dr. Byun explains “Donguibogam by Heo jun served us well for over 400 years, and I feel the need and responsibility for the next reference book to take the baton. This is why I began writing.” He added that the 400 year old Donguibogam has not been updated and cannot keep up with today’s different approach toward medicine and treatment. Thus a new book should add to what the original Donguibogam taught us years ago, for an era of new medical developments


Dr. Byun writes his prescription.

From Haany to Haany-hak Teacher

Dr. Byun, as founder of Daegu Haany University, was also the first President of the University. In July, 2006, he became the 5th President while over the age of 70 and made immense efforts to progress Haany-hak by caring for patients at Daegu Haany University Hospital. He successfully established the world’s first Hanbang General Hospital “ Je-Han Hanbang General Hospital “ and 10 years later established Daegu Haany University at age 48. He is devoting his life to haany-hak.

His first patient who suffered from a stroke was his father. Dr. Byun learned a lesson from invaluable experiences while treating his father. He and the family had hidden a disease from Dr. Byun, and tried trying not to emotionally burden his son who was studying far from home. This made Dr. Byun realized that a doctor’s personal devotion and enthusiasm is as much important as treatment skills no matter what disease his patient suffers from.

Dr. Byun still teaches his students “To earn respect as a true caregiver in society, doctors must know how to give back to society. “ Since he retook the position as President for the University in 2006, he has been taking care of his patients every Thursday. In 1959, he opened his own clinic at Daegu, and has been served as an acupuncture doctor for 5 decades. He describes “Haany-hak and Hanbang as another kind of virtue” since he believes that performing acupuncture without a gentle heart will not lead to satisfying and positive result. He adds “They are not just needles but the interconnection of gentle heart.”


Dr. Byun’s Health Tips

Former University President Byun is over 80 years old but still works three times a week at his clinic. We asked him about his health tips on how to maintain his physical vitality. He answered “I sleep on average 5 hours a day. Since I became 60, I eat only one vegetarian meal at lunchtime.” He emphasizes the important diet habit of eating slowly and lightly. The reason for such a working schedule is that he needs to manage his time slots for writing his book New Donguibogam, teaching The Book of Change, and attending a number of Haany-hak-related events in Korea and overseas.  

For the globalization of Haany-hak, Dr. Byun is working on the promotion of establishing the affiliated school of Daegu Haany University in New York. According to him, as the limelight is coming to Oriental Medicine, its demand is explosively growing both in U.S and Europe. However, no other country than Korea has the systematic educational system for it. Once this project pushes through, his University will be the first case in which a traditional Korean medical school expands and settles on the international stage. We may look forward to the day when people from all around the world enter Korea’s first international Haany-hak school in Manhattan, New York. 

Leading Haany-hak’s Globalization, Daegu Haany University


Leading Haany-hak’s Globalization, Daegu Haany University

Daegu Haany University

Dr. Byun Chung-hwan, honorary president of Daegu Haany University served as First President and Founder for Daegu Haany University. In July, 1996, he became the 5th President, his age well past 70, and has worked hard to advance Haany-hak while treating his patients at its affiliated Hanbang Hospital. Dr. Byun never forgets “It was 30 years ago, being a passionate Haany-hak student who was full of dreams. I was busy running everywhere to build Hanbang General Hospital and Haany University aiming to fix Haany-hak’s public image by promoting its edge toward scientific and international angle. “ He added “ Daegu Yangyeongsi which is famous for herbal medicine market, must continue tradition to move forward. To this end, Haany University at Daegu should educate and train more talented doctors.”  

Finally, his dream came true. Before the traditional Korean medical hospital at Kyung-Hee University Medical Center, his world’s first Hanbang General Hospital “Je-Han Hanbang General Hospital“, which became Daegu Haany University Hospital later, was completed. Afterward, Dr. Byun then was struggling to build Haany-hak University at Daegu, which was a long-awaited project for the Kyungsangbuk-do Association of Haany-hak doctors. He eventually poured his own money into it. In 1980, Daegu Haany University opened.  


Traditional and Hi-Tech Combination of industry-university cooperation for Development of a Regional Society


Leading Haany-hak’s Globalization, Daegu Haany University

Daegu Haany University Hospital

With the slogan of tradition and top-notch technology, Daegu Haany University presents core strategies such as strengthening research capability for cultivating manpower through the characterization of Hanbang industry, medical and welfare area, setting up productive education system. First opened as one single Haany-hak department with 108 students, Daegu Haany College then has grown into Daegu Haany University now with 5 different colleges and 37 departments based on the characterization strategy of Hanbang, medical, and welfare.

Let’s take a look at what Daegu Haany University, with its track record of continuous growth and development, has achieved. First, Employment rate for undergraduates is the highest in the district as the university prepared its own specialized education curriculum that well responds to demand in the market. In 2009, it was selected as the Best in the Government Assessment for Universities. They boast of the advanced level of Haany-hak education and research which no other can come close.  

In the medical field, they are now running three Hanbang hospitals, promoting the health of people in the community and contributing to improving their quality of life. Three affiliated hospitals are Daegu Hanbang Hospital for patients with cerebral palsy, Po-hang Hanbang Hospital for medical tourism backed by the Government, and Mun-gkyoung city Nursing Home as an outsourced care home for the elderly. For the academic and Industrial field where they have been actively engaged in, Korea’s first school-sponsored enterprise was built to create a new market for Herb Cosmeceuticals that is the mixed conception of Cosmetics and Pharmaceutical. With their own product brand “Jaan”, they already recorded over USD 2 million in yearly revenue, which has become the benchmarking model for other universities. Collaborated with Kyungsangbuk-do , Kyoungsan-Si and Daegu Haany University is looking into a project that will establish Global Cosmetic block at close proximity. By promoting research activity and supporting start-up venture companies through various industrial channels, they are vitalizing regional economy and creating jobs.


2012, Year One as Global University


Daegu Haany University

This year 2012, Daegu Haany University, greeting the 3rd campus generation, is ready to take a leap toward world-class university. Maximizing synergy effect coming from strong systematic cooperation and differentiating each specialty that three campuses have is their future plan; Suseong campus in Daegu for Haany-hak, Samseong campus of Kyung-san city in Kyungsangbuk-do for prestigious education, and O-seong campus of Kyung-san city in Kyungsangbuk-do as exclusive Hanbang campus. Meanwhile, the world is beginning to keep close eyes on oriental medicine as its following demand for Haany-hak education is dramatically increasing. In order to keep abreast of this new trend, they are also preparing to open another campus in New York. Once their New York school takes off successfully, the next destinations will be South America and Europe.

In the past, Daegu Haany University showed their capability at home and overseas as they were assigned to major national research projects like Collaborative Project for Regional Economic Zone by Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Regional Industrial Research Development Project by Ministry of Knowledge Economy and Medical Research Center Project by Ministry of Education, Science and technology. Recently, they took part in the development of natural drugs which is one of 5 Future Flagship Programs that helps Korea acquire international competiveness. Daegu Haany University, strives to strengthen its position as a university that specializes in Hanbang, health and welfare to ensure a place in the global medical market. Bringing about more creative research approach by narrowing the space between professors and students and globalizing Haany-hak through international cooperative research is also on their agenda.


Hanbang, Aiming for Global Market past Peripheral Market


Specialized in Hanbang, Daegu Haany University also plays a backbone role in the Hanbang Bio industry. For the Daegu Innopolis Project, new Haany-hak’s combined research cluster will be created. They picked up medical combination devices and basic material industry as their important research areas.

By putting in place a human network comprised of world-class scholars, Daegu Hanny University is creating a research platform which possibly leads to outstanding research results. Well known research institutions such as Germany’s Fraunhofer Research Center, Japan’s RIKEN, and China’s TJAB formed an alliance and are now working together with Daegu Haany University for industries like new natural drugs and Hanbang medicine. These industries are expected to be internationalized with a high value.

Daegu Haany University, Korean American Chamber of Commerce, and The Traditional Korean Medical Tourism Organization are eyeing the global Hanbang tourism business. Such a strategic move will certainly benefit both regional government organizations and industries. These programs accommodate High Tech Medical Complex and claim “global medical tourism city and mega city.” Furthermore it will also greatly contribute to activating Korea’s medical and medical tourism industry.


Korea IT Times and Kyung-Hee University (the College of Oriental Medicine Department) run a Year Series of articles on “Traditional Korean Medicine Sparks Global Interest.”


July 2011 — Opening article in 12 parts- The World Loves Oriental Medicine. Introduction of Traditional Korean Medicine by Interviewing Kim Namil, Dean of College of Oriental Medicine, Kyung-Hee University (Published)

August 2011 — Outstanding Specialist – Dr. Shin Jun-shik, Board President of Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine (Published)

September 2011 — Outstanding Specialist - Open demonstration of advanced cancer treatment (Prof. Choi Won-chol, oriental cancer clinic of Gangdong Oriental Hospital) (Published)

October 2011 — 2013 World Traditional Medicine Expo, Discover Sancheong-gun “The Ancient Valley of Healing.” (Published)

December, 2011 — 400th Anniversary of the Donguibogam, the book that heals the world (Published)

February, 2012 — Traditional Korean Medical History of Oriental Medicine Dept. at Kyung-Hee University (Published)

March, 2012

—       Outstanding Specialist – A Noted Traditional Korean Medical Doctor, Byun Chung-hwan is Writing New Donguibogam. (Published)

—       World Traditional Medicine EXPO to be held in Sancheong in 2013. (Published)

April 2012 — Outstanding Specialist, Dr. Park Sang-dong, Board President of Dongseo Oriental Hospital

May 2012 — Donguibogam 400th anniversary project in 2013/ International Traditional Medicine Expo 2013 (co-hosted by Gyeongsangnam-do & Sancheong-gun from September 10 to October 19, 2013)

June 2012 — Outstanding Specialist – Dr. Yu Bong-ha, President of Oriental Hospital Kyung-Hee University and Presidential Practitioner of Oriental Medicine.

July 2012 — An Interview with the president of Association of Korean Oriental Medicine.


* From March 2012, Korea IT times will use the oriental medical terms as follows:

• Haany-hak: the traditional Korean medical study

• Haany: A traditional Korean medical doctor

• Hanbang: traditional Korean medical medicine, treatment or method

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