Finding the key to solving problems in the hepatitis kingdom: A Study on the Development of Hepatitis B Vaccine by Kim Chung Young in the 1960-70s

Uisahak. 2020 Aug;29(2):537-567. doi: 10.13081/kjmh.2020.29.537.


This paper analyzes the research process of Kim Chung Yong (henceforth referred to as KIM), who presented the hepatitis B vaccine in South Korea. In South Korea, which had been called the Hepatitis Kingdom, KIM developed a vaccine material for hepatitis B. Through his research achievements, South Korea, emerged from a country ignorant of hepatitis to a country with a hepatitis B vaccine. It is not easy to achieve remarkable results in developing countries where scientific development is lagging. This environment, however, helped KIM achieve his research. This article explains that the two circumstances affected his achievement in his research. First, KIM got a chance to study in the U.S. when he was his starting as a researcher. In the 1960s, the scientific and medical education environment in Korea was still poor. KIM left for Harvard University with the support of CMB, where he was able to advance his studies. This experience was an opportunity to further enhance his research skills. Second, Korea's poor health and hygiene environment in the 1970s worked in favor of verifying the effectiveness of vaccine materials he developed. South Korea, where hepatitis B was prevalent, became a good research site to secure enough test subjects. KIM also used blood sellers to find out the effects of the vaccine material he developed. Blood sellers are people who earn their living by selling their own blood and were commonly found in Korea at that time. The situation in Korea in the 1970s with prevailing hepatitis and the presence of blood sellers played an important role in KIM's research. His research on vaccine development for hepatitis B was hard to imagine in the scientific research environment of South Korea at the time. However, it was also this context and environment of South Korea at the time that enabled his achievement of developing a hepatitis B vaccine.

Keywords: Blood Sellers; China Medical Board(CMB); Hepatitis B; Hepatitis B Vaccine; Kim Chung Yong.