The State of Natural Science in Korea
The State of Natural Science in Korea
  • Reporter Lee Sang-min
  • 승인 2010.05.19 13:01
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Ewha Womans University’s Professor Changrim Ahn, Chairman of the Focus Program

▲ Prof. Changrim Ahn from Ewha Womans University (Chairman of the Focus Program on Cosmology)
Relatively, the progress of natural science in Korea is regarded as quite poorer than that of engineering. Moreover, the number of researchers on theoretical science is limited. The Postech Times talked to Professor Changrim Ahn, chairman of the APCTP-IEU Focus Program, about these issues.

How do you estimate the possibility of a Korean winner of Nobel Prize in Physics?

Though I don’t know all the physicists on different areas, in my opinion, there is no one yet. The Nobel Prize is not for great scholars; that’s only the misconception of people. It is granted to pioneers who explore a new field of physics, or brilliant troubleshooters who solved incomplete problems. It aims to find how the winner changed our paradigm. No Korean, including myself, conforms to that. Many Korean scientists have become notable and great scholars, so even now they are being awarded many great prizes. However, a Nobel Prize winner is nowhere to be found. Here is another misunderstanding. The Nobel Prize is only a one of the great prizes, each with their own aspects.

What do you think about the attitude of Koreans in relation to academia?

The national character of Koreans is considerable related to our scholarship. At first, Koreans always want to promote community. We usually follow the majority, and hate being alone. That’s why I concluded an absence of an upcoming Nobel Prize winner even if there are many great Korean scientists. Korean scientists seek what exists already. The second thing is Koreans are always urgent, impatient. For Koreans always eager to achieve something as fast as they can, natural science can never be well-suited.

Do you have any opinion about the present state of natural science in Korea?

Many people are pointing out the recession of science and engineering in Korea, but my opinion is the opposite. There are too many natural scientists in Korea. Obstinate supports are bordering circulation of scientists. People can leave freely for themselves and other scientists. From that, even necessary people are worrying about job opportunity from saturation, instead of conducting research. After all, the increasing GDP has decided many people not to be scientists. This is not only for Korea. Even in U.S, their academia is becoming composed of foreigners.