Honorary Professor, College of Medicine, Seoul National University
Department of Dermatology, National Medical Center
Psoriasis is a common cutaneous condition which can be chronic and recurrent, and highly detrimental to the patient’s quality of life. However, around the time when the efforts were made to establish the Korean Society for Psoriasis, the damaging effect of the disease was yet to be known amongst the Korean people, and drew only little to no interest amongst dermatologists as demonstrated in the lack of research and treatment endeavors relating to the disease. Many patients would give up seeking a treatment, and worse still relied upon folk remedies or unchartered treatments, instead of consulting doctors, thinking psoriasis was an incurable disease. I have seen patients die of pustular psoriasis or fall into a critical condition after attempting an unproven remedy. It was, and still is, a time when patients were swayed by non-dermatologists who explained the aggravation of the disease as a process of healing in which the rash-causing harmful substances were coming out onto the skin.
The need to educate dermatologists about the importance of the disease and to improve and enhance the treatment and research efforts as well as to create a forum for sharing knowledge and experience about the disease was plain and palpable, and it was calling for the formation of a research group dedicated to the study of the disease in Korea (Fig. 1).
I discussed establishing an academic society for psoriasis with Professor Nak-In Kim of Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, and we put together a committee to promote the cause consisting of Kwang-Joong Kim, Tae-Yoon Kim, Seung-Kyung Hann, Jee-Ho Choi, Un-Cheol Yeo, Jin-Ho Chung and ourselves on October 8th, 1996. The committee held a meeting at Hotel Ritz Carlton on October 25th 1996 to prepare for the promotion of the tentatively-called Korean Society for Psoriasis Research (KSPR). The committee appointed promoters and resolved to convene a meeting thereof. On November 23rd 1996, the appointed promoters gathered at Hotel Shilla and elected me as the President of the KSPR, and Professor Nak-In Kim as its Administrator. Twenty-nine promoters, who were professors from participating universities, attended the assembly. Figure 2 shows the items discussed at the meeting and the list of appointed promoters, and Figure 3 shows how the meeting was held. At the meeting, participants decided to set up a preparatory committee to establish a KSPR, which was to be made up of promoters. Professor Voorhees from University of Michigan, a distinguished American scholar on psoriasis who happened to be visiting Korea at the time, also attended the promotion committee and congratulated the formation of the KSPR. From that moment on, the preparatory committee arranged and executed all the necessary steps to establish the KSPR.
Finally on May 9th 1997, the KSPR held its inaugural assembly and first academic conference at Hotel InterContinental. You can see its poster and abstract in the following picture (Fig. 4,5). The assembly elected me as the first President of the KSPR, and Professor Nak-In Kim of Kyung Hee University School of Medicine as its Administrator. In Figure 6 and 7, you can see the promotional materials heralding the establishment of the KSPR and the financial report drawn up after the first conference. The commencement of the KSPR was widely covered by the media in the nation (Fig. 8). . I feel both awed and amazed at the remarkable growth the KSPR has accomplished in terms of both quality and quantity of its research activities.
Since its inception, the KSPR has held an annual conference and published journals. On March 28th 2002, the KSPR obtained official recognition from the Korean Dermatological Association and became the Association’s affiliated sub-committee on psoriasis. Consequently I concurrently served as the chairman of the Association’s sub-committee. The KSPR has continued its growth, and its 4th assembly held in 2000 resolved to change its name to the Korean Society for Psoriasis. So from the 5th assembly on May 19th 2001 and onward, its conferences have been held in its new name of the Korean Society for Psoriasis (KSP) (Fig. 9).
From its inaugural year of 1997, I served two consecutive terms for 4 years as its President until 2001, and at its 5th conference in 2001, Professor Nak-In Kim of Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, who has made tremendous contributions to the establishment and development of the KSP, was named as its third President. After finishing my term as President, I served at its steering committee, and since 2011, I have been also working as its standing director.
The KSP has built a friendly relationship with psoriasis researchers in Japan and has been sharing knowledge through meetings by exchanging invitations In particular, Dr. Ozawa, head professor of Tokai University in Japan, has been attending the Society’s annual conference with the members of his Department every year since its 5th conference. On November 21st and 22nd 2003, Jeju Psoriasis Symposium 2003 was held on Jeju Island, and professors specializing in psoriasis from both Korea and Japan attended the event (Fig 10,11).
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the KSP held a forum on the latest topics of psoriasis at Hotel Novotel Ambassador on May 12th 2006. At the 22nd World Congress of Dermatology held at Coex on May 24th 2011, it organized an Ancillary Meeting on Psoriasis.
As preparations are being made for the 20th annual meeeting of the KSP scheduled to be held in September 2016, following its 19th annual meeting in September 2015, it seems that the KSP has reached a mature stage through continued efforts at growth and development. I, the first President of the KSPR, have retired from Seoul National University at the end of August 2012. Over the past twenty years, the KSP has established itself as a community for medical study and is now putting a spurt on publishing the Journal of the KSP to become a member of the Korean Academy of Medical Sciences. The first issue of the Journal of the KSP, Vol. 1, Number 1 was published in May 2004. The first issue featured my article titled 「Psoriasis of Koreans」, five review articles, 3 original articles, and one case article. Vol. 11 was published in 2015. Meanwhile, in 2013, the KSP opened its website (http://kspder.or.kr), and became a member of Psoriasis International Network, an international organization for psoriasis.
The KSP has been promoting not only the individual efforts but also the co-work capabilities of researchers, conducting a number of joint researches and publishing them on its Journals and presenting them at the international conference for psoriasis. It has also expanded its scope of activities by actively participating in international events as demonstrated in the numerous occasions of meetings and exchanges with the Japanese Society for Psoriasis Research (JSPR), where a number of Korean professors participated and made presentations on their study.
20 years have passed since the KSPR was established in 1997. I believe that the KSP has been exemplary and achieved a lot as an affiliated research community of the Korean Dermatological Association in every aspect from the number of participating members, academic performance, financial soundness, and international engagement, to cooperative relations amongst its members. Above all, now there is heightened awareness of psoriasis in Korea. In fact, nowadays there is so much knowledge and information about the disease on the internet that now there is a need to separate wheat from the chaff.
I have a strong conviction that the KSP will continue its growth in the future, and this growth will be accomplished by the members joining forces and individuals continuously conducting researches, publishing articles, and fostering younger scholars. I am convinced that the further advancement of our KSP will make a significant contribution to the healing of our patients suffering from psoriasis.