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[Editorial] 30-year Dedication to Korea’s Science Future

[Editorial] 30-year Dedication to Korea’s Science Future

Posted July. 10, 2008 08:44,   


In 1979, or the last year of President Park Chung-hee’s rule, an extended family saw off a relative who was about go overseas. The term “globalization” was Greek to most Koreans at the time. In the same year, The Dong-A Ilbo hosted the first national science contest for students who wanted to become inventors. Winners in all categories received a free trip to NASA in the United States. Students from kindergarten to the 12th grade and their teachers showed great zeal for the contest. Korea Yakult, a company with annual revenue of 20 billion won at the time, chipped in 80 million won, a huge sum in those days, as a sponsor.

The contest has served as a youth venue for scientific imagination and will mark its 30th anniversary this year. This year, 155,000 students submitted entries in qualifiers this year, of which 298 will compete starting today. The opening ceremony will take place in Daejeon.

The largest of its kind in Korea, the invention contest has spurred student curiosity for technological and scientific creativity and scientific pursuit. Einstein ranked creativity over knowledge, saying a creative imagination is needed to tackle old and new problems from new perspectives and to find new possibilities. This year’s award-winning pieces represent students’ creative exploration and scientific imagination that turn ordinary problems into new inventions from new perspectives.

In this era of harsh global competition, a country’s power depends on science ability. That was the motivating power that propelled resource-deficient Korea to the rank of the world’s 13th-largest economy.

The former Roh Moo-hyun administration, however, worsened the situation. In retaliation against The Dong-A Ilbo’s harsh criticism of his policy failures.

President Roh Moo-hyun pressured the science ministry to remove Dong-A from the hosting organizations’ list. In the end, his administration downgraded the event and deleted Dong-A’s name from all official documents and materials from the contest.

Nonetheless, this traditional event survived largely due to the dedication and full support of Korea Yakult. Even after the dreadful economic crisis hit in the late 1990s, the company has continued its sponsorship.

The Dong-A Ilbo is proud of its various activities and events geared to foster talented young Koreans. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for a bright future and contributions from this year’s student winners.