“My father wanted me to become a famous scientist. So I, as a child, decided to realize his wish,” said Jong Kwang Hyok, researcher of the faculty of physics at Kim Il Sung University.
Born into an ordinary family in Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province, Jong made his name as a child prodigy.
His mother Kim Jong Ok recalled that the son always buried himself in books.
“My first teacher was my father and he was more like a strict teacher than a caring father,” said Jong.
His father was an economist at that time and tutored Jong every day in the hope of bringing up his mathematically gifted son as a scientist.
Jong laid solid foundations of his scientific knowledge at the math geniuses’ class of Hamhung Middle School No. 1 and, later, at the faculty of physics and post-graduate school of Kim Il Sung University.
He specialized in optics in the university course.
During his post-graduate course, he published a study paper entitled “Analysis of interference pattern by wavelet transformation” which was the first of its kind in the country and received a master’s degree.
Recognized as a competent physician, he went on with his study as a research student at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy.
“Most of the research students at the centre, a world-class research institution, were from developed countries including the US and France,” said Jong, adding he studied hard saving every bit of time to keep the dignity and honour of a Korean scientist.
In those days, he came to realize the importance of theoretical physics and understand the world of cross-disciplinary sciences in the course of studying his major field of study by combining it with biology and chemistry.
He often recollects Dr. Ali Hassanali who rendered unremitting assistance to him though they had different nationalities.
He contributed several study papers to prestigious international academic journals.
In the closing days of his research course, he contributed to the first-ever elucidation of the cohesive mechanism and optical property of amyloidal protein and earned a doctorate.
The section chief of the doctoral thesis deliberation committee highly appreciated Jong’s research findings on human ageing and dementia that had remained as a global challenge, saying that the effect of solvents including water on the outbreak and progress of dementia was explained for the first time with the application of methods used in condensed matter physics.
The director of the ICTP said that he did not know the DPRK’s basic education was at such a high level while praising Jong’s thesis as an excellent one.
“At first, I thought that I fulfilled my dream by carrying out my father’s wish, but now as a scientist, my new dream is to make the world know about the DPRK and I still have a long way to go for it,” said Jong.