Jong-hwan Ree, O.M.D.
by Margaret Glignor-Schwarz
As a young boy, Jong-hwan Ree was abducted from his family and forced to serve on the front lines of the Korean War, as a food runner. He claims if it were not for his industrious study of the English language, he would never have been able to negotiate for his life by obtaining a position as translator, or liaison, between US and ROK troops. The Captain of the unit, an American doctor, took him under his wing and taught him the subjects he should have been learning in school. He instilled in him a desire to be a caregiver and when the war was over, Jong slowly worked his way through medical school.
In the summer of 1972, Korea was chosen to host the Third International Conference on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. The highlight of this particular conference was an appendectomy performed by a surgeon with the application of acupuncture serving as the sole anesthetic. Because of his good command of the English language, Jong was nominated to be spokesman for the event and, on the final day of the conference, a group of doctors from the US approached him and proposed that he come to the US in the interest of promoting education on acupuncture and oriental medicine there.
Because both governments were happy to allow his emigration for educational purposes, he found himself USA-bound, less than a year later. Hired by Brunswick Hospital on Long Island, Jong was instrumental in establishing the protocol for treatment of patients by acupuncture and was the first to be licensed to practice acupuncture in the state of New York.