You may notice beautiful art on the first floor of the South Pavilion at Little Company of Mary Hospital by a well-known artist, Dr. Kuhn Hong. His work has been featured in various publications, and internationally in art shows in both Korea and Paris. It will also be featured in an upcoming Korean Cultural Center show from May 18-29 in Chicago. We are fortunate to display the art here because it was created by one of our very own physicians. For the past 34 years, Dr. Kuhn Hong has served as the Director of Nuclear Medicine at Little Company of Mary Hospital.
Dr. Hong has been an artist since he was very young. He grew up in South Korea, which was torn by war during his childhood. “When I was about five years old, we had to run for life from the North Korean Communist Army. We stayed at a complex with many refugees living together. We did not have enough food and not to mention of any toys to play with. My mom was a teacher at a primary school and brought used papers from the class. I drew pictures in the back of papers to kill time. Mom encouraged me to continue to draw after finding my skill,” said Dr. Hong. He perfected the craft of drawing over the years.
“My first grade teacher also recognized the talent and submitted my pictures for contests, and I received medals. I continued painting through my school years and won many prizes. However, my parents would not allow me to pursue a career in art by applying to art college since they thought an artist would not make a living in the war-torn country,” said Dr. Hong. “I went to medical school to help the sick after observing doctors and nurses who took care of my father who was hospitalized while I was in the high school. I joined the art club in the medical school, and we painted over the weekends together and had annual exhibits of our artwork.”
Because of his time growing up in war-torn Korea, he was inspired to begin volunteering on medical mission trips. “I have been fortunate from practicing medicine in the States. But being a physician, I found that I could reach out to those who do not have access to the modern medical facility in other countries,” said Dr. Hong. “There are still many people who are suffering from malaria, tuberculosis and many other infectious disease, and do not get proper treatment. Even many of the mission hospitals that I have visited do not have sophisticated imaging equipment as we have here. CT scan is a luxury, and ultrasound and basic x-rays are the backbone of diagnostic tools. It is challenging for the physicians to make proper diagnoses with limited imaging tools. I found out the radiologist is most demanding specialist in the mission hospitals nowadays.”
In the past 15 years, Dr. Hong visited more than 20 countries for short-term medical mission trips. He has provided medical aid and supplies to Haiti, Honduras, North Korea, and many countries in Africa. Most recently, he visited Cameroon in January to provide radiology services and diagnostic tests to a leper hospital.
As a man who likes to combine his many talents and put them to amazing use, he has not only provided aid to those countries, but he has sketched and painted his experiences. Dr. Hong’s art has allowed him to communicate with the people he has served on his mission trips using the universal language of art. It also has allowed him to share his amazing experiences with us, broadening our worldview and giving us an understanding of life in other parts of the world. “I would like to share the love of Christ and life of mission places through my paintings. I hope someone might feel inspired and become interested in medical mission in the future as well,” said Dr. Hong.
Dr. Hong will be retiring from Little Company of Mary in June. He and his wife, Kim, will be moving to Ethiopia for long-term volunteer service at a Korean mission hospital, Myungsung Christian Medical Center in Addis Ababa. “We are planning to stay there at least three years or more. It is not an easy decision to leave the comfortable living in the States and grandchildren. However, we will be pleased to be able to help the doctors and patients by using my specialty and share the love of Christ,” said Dr. Hong. We will be sorry to see him go, and we wish him the best in his retirement. Thank you for many inspiring years at Little Company of Mary Hospital!
Dr. Hong’s paintings are for sale, and all proceeds will be used for the expense of acquiring necessary medical equipment. View the art at Little Company of Mary today. It can be seen along the adjacent hallway leading to the main lobby on the first floor of the South Pavilion.