It is with great sadness that we share these words about our dear friend, colleague, and mentor, Il-Bong Kim. On the evening of April 13th, 2012, Dr. Il Bong Kim met an untimely death after having worked hard as a teacher and practitioner like just any other day. We were all shocked and found it hard to believe because he had been our role model of how to live to the age of 120, which had been one of his favorite subjects, sharing his insights with the students, colleagues, patients, and even their parents.
Dr. Kim was not only a great orthodontist, but an inspiration to all who knew and worked with him. He was an integral part of the modern orthodontics education. He graduated in dentistry from Seoul National University in 1961 and launched the teaching at his alma mater in 1967. But his strong passion to learn led him to Japan to study orthodontics at Nihon University in 1968 and he got a full-time lecturer position at the Orthodontics Department, Nihon University. In the meantime, he encountered Dr. Daryl Beach, who helped him set up the treatment method principles of clinical dentistry. During his entire life, Dr. Beach's global way of thinking and Zero concept inspired Dr. Kim to become an expert of the Pd (proprioceptive derivation) concept and act like an evangelist of "Pd life" throughout the world, because he strongly believed it provided quality-based optimal management unit for both patients and dentists.
Il-Bong Kim, 1938~2012
Dr. IBK Memorial Board
Since 1970, he had worked as professor at Kyung Hee University and director of the Orthodontic department at Kyung Hee Medical Center for 6 years. He started to produce many brilliant dentists who actively have worked for the development of orthodontics. However, he resigned from the promising position to challenge himself by starting his own practice and establishing the Korean Orthodontic Research Institute Inc. (KORI) in 1977. The KORI has grown to have about 1,400 members and become truly the most well-known institute all over the world. As a result, the KORI held the first World Edgewise Orthodontic Congress with Dr. Kim as its founder and chairman in 2001.
In 1985, his pursuit of excellence in orthodontic treatment pushed him to learn the Tweed-Merrifield philosophy in Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A., which has been one of the holy land to all orthodontists. Ever since, he launched the Tweed-Merrifield Korean Orthodontic Society and provided the Tweed Foundation Course to not only Korean but also foreign dentists, so he made Korea the academic hub of orthodontic education in Asia. He served as a board member and instructor of Tweed International Foundation and received the Award of Special Merit in 1990 and the Award of Distinguished Service in 2010 from Charles H. Tweed International Foundation.
He proudly served as the president of the Korean Association of Orthodontics from 1978 to 1980. He also had lectured at numerous graduate programs and academic meetings all around the world. His lectures were not just about sharing the dental knowledge, but about influencing the listener's lifestyle. After he finished the leadership course of the PSI (Personal Success Institute) seminars in 1994, he encouraged the staffs to take the course, so that everyone had a chance to be a leader just like he was. He strongly believed that all we need was to hold an intention continually and focus on the positive not on the negative, then we could achieve whatever goals we had. Literally his life proved he was right on that matter.
For the well-being of the dental professionals, he established the Korean dental management and informatics council, Inc. in 1998. His endless passion to provide the qualified education to the young dentists, who reminded him of his younger days when he was seeking help for the thirst for learning, made him found I.B.Kim International Orthodontic Foundation in 2003. Over 30 foreign dentists were trained as orthodontists sponsored by the foundation scholarship. Once he said that his efforts and dedication always paid off when they smiled at him.
Dr. Kim received much recognition for his academic and education, including the 1994 Academy Award of Korean Dental Association and Award from International College of Dentists, Korea in 2010. He was awarded the White Magnolia Commemoration and Medal from Shanghai government in 1996 and the Award of Friendship from Dalian, China in 2012.
He was also appointed as the first honorary member of Mongorian Orthodontic Union in 2002, the honorary doctor of medicine from the first Tashkent Medical Institute, Uzbekistan in 2003, the honorary member of Belarus Orthodontic Society in 2004, and the honorary degree from the Genghis Khan University in Mongolia in 2010. Dr. Kim's paramount achievements in dentistry are just overwhelming.
Often times he compared himself to a soldier with the Tweed-Merrifield technique in his body, the Pd concept in his mind, and the Psi leadership in his spirit. But in our lives, he was a dream maker as well as natural born leader. Even in his memorial service conducted by Korean Association of Orthodontics on April 17th, most participants would agree on Dr. Sang Mook Choi's memorial speeches that Dr. Kim would not want to sit back, do nothing, and relax in heaven. His passing is a tragic loss to all of us, but our thoughts and prayers are for the loved ones he leaves behind, Miji, his wife, Seongen, his daughter, and Hongkyu, his son as they come to terms with the loss of a husband and father.
W. S. Gilbert wrote. It's love that makes the world go round. And if that is true, then our world spun a little faster with Dr. Kim in it. We certainly have our own strug gles, but if there is one thing we agreed on uncon ditionally, it is Dr. Kim's love and commitment to dentistry. His love for dentistry was joyous and fierce. That fierceness might be why he isn't with us anymore. And we can all learn much from the way he lived his life. His death causes each of us to stop and take stock of our lives to measure who we are and what kind of a dentist we've become. We may not have all those answers for ourselves, but we know who he was. He was the man whose legacy will be kept alive to shape us into becoming a better person. Dr. Il-Bong Kim will be greatly missed, forever cherished and always remembered.