Saturday, January 21, 2006

"I will make you stand up."

Or so said Dr. Hwang back before he became the god that failed.

Friday's Korea Herald had an article titled "We still want to believe Dr. Hwang: patient's dad."

The father is Lee Wan-hee, professor of physical therapy at Sahmyook University, and his son is Lee Chae-myeong, who is seven years old and suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, "which paralyzes muscles for activities such as walking, crawling, head and neck control, and swallowing."

Professor Lee "cannot forget the night in July when his son's doctor excitedly telephoned him" and told him that "his son may have a chance to take part in clinical trials of custom-made stem cells then believed to have been created by Hwang Woo-suk's research team."

This was back in those wonderful days when "Hwang was a national hero and said his team could cure intractable diseases with the stem cells. On television news broadcasts, the charismatic scientist held the hands of wheelchair bound patients saying, 'I will make you stand up.'"

When I showed my wife this article with Hwang's promise, she disdainfully observed, "He acts like he's some kind of guru." In a previous blog entry, I've accused Hwang of having a "messiah complex." And Orankay has the above photo from Naver News speaking volumes on this point.

The saddest part of the article is this:

The boy ... [still] thinks Dr. Hwang will cure his disease.

When asked "Do you know Dr. Hwang?" Chae-myeong said, "Yes. He is the person who will cure my illness."

Chae-myeong is confined to a wheelchair with a hose stuck in his mouth to help him breathe.
As the father remarks later in the article: "Chae-myeong is too young to abandon hope."

I wouldn't go so far as Plunge in suggesting banishment to the infernal underworld as punishment for Hwang, but I do see the irony of a god being harrowed in hell, especially one who gave false hopes to so many and for whom, Dante's words would surely be appropriate:

"All hope abandon, ye who enter here."


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