International Cooperation, a part of National Research and Development Project “Enthusiasm, efforts, and sacrifice are necessary for international cooperation.”
Korean wave is sweeping not only in the pop culture but also in the science technology. The field of nuclear energy and radiation has sparked the Korean wave in Southeast Asia though the Regional Cooperation Agreement (RCA). The enthusiasm, efforts, and sacrifice of Dr. Sung-hee JUNG at Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) have played a big role in creating the wave.
“I feel very proud when developing countries show strong interest in our achievements in radiation research and say they want to adopt our development system,” says Dr.Jung who actively takes part in the RCA project. “I hope there should be more chances for these efforts to be properly appreciated so that we can make further progress in the future,” he adds.
>>To secure generic technology and spread practical technology through international cooperation and technology exchange
“Since competition to develop new technology is growing fiercer in the field of radiography, a traditional examination means, we applied a medical examination method to industrial sector. We have developed technology which can examine running product like a CT scanner and have applied it to the petrochemical industry,” says Dr. Jung. He has made contributions towards improving non-destructive testing technology by developing application technology of industrial radioisotopes.
In Korea the research on industrial application technology of radiation isotopes started in the 1990s and starting from 2000s the application technology has begun to industrialize. Since the beginning of the R&D, Korea, which did not have a generic technology, has benefited from international exchanges.
Dr. Jung explains where Korea stands in the field, saying, “As Korean industries including sensor technology and data processing equipment grow at a rapid pace, radioisotope industrial application measuring technology has been newly developed and related industries have shown fast growth. Now as more and more foreign countries show increasing interest in our technology and products, we have strengthened our global competitiveness and successfully shifted to a technology donor nation.”
He is now working on ‘Characterizing and Optimizing Process Dynamics in Complex Industrial Systems Using Radiotracer and Sealed Source Techniques’, a project of the Asia-Pacific RCA. The technologies and equipment developed through the project are utilized in the national key industries including oil refining, petroleum, and chemistry.
>>To improve the domestic radiation industry and make contributions in the global stage through the RAC
Many developing countries in Asia including Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia are pleased with international cooperation to help them and learning nuclear and radiation technologies from Korea. KAERI gives direct and indirect support through the RCA to international cooperation and education on radioisotope and related industries.
“International cooperation and mid & long term nuclear R&D project, a national R&D project, are closely related. Particularly, the RCA presents good opportunities not only to put the research result in practical use and secure national competitiveness but also to share and make use of experiences. Therefore we have to take part in the RCA,” says Dr. Jung. He has participated in the RCA for the past eighteen years since he entered KAERI in 1995 while carrying out his mid and long term researches.
The radioisotope application technology on which Dr. Jung makes international cooperation through the RCA is applied to most of the equipment and facilities industry including oil refining, petroleum, and chemical industries. Oil is one of the most widely-used fossil fuels and many countries have oil refining and chemical facilities. The same goes for many developing countries. The facilities in these countries are to be fully operated for three to five years so the facilities are exposed to the risk of accidents and basic technologies to check and maintain them are necessary.
“It is impossible to develop the technology to meet the needs of every country. The core idea of the RCA is to teach the technologies that advanced countries develop and put to practical use to the countries with poor technology and industry infrastructure. Especially, industries which use radioisotope require expertise in isotope production and treatment. Nuclear research centers in many countries have it and that’s why the exchange between the centers is going on very actively,” Dr. Jung adds.
>>There are no boundaries in cooperation. Sacrifice is needed.
What developing countries want is not mere material support but accumulated experiences and knowledge of developed countries. After considering what they need and want, donor countries need to transfer technologies and knowledge which can satisfy both beneficiary and donor countries. However, the work requires enthusiasm, efforts, and sacrifice.
“Unfortunately, a few years ago, a passionate Chinese CIAE researcher died from an accident after completing his mission in the country he worked. It was very shocking news for me because I myself went through hard times both physically and mentally while doing my work in the countries such as progress checking meetings, technology meetings, and education. The tragedy reminded me that international cooperation is not an easy task at all and requires personal sacrifice,” Dr. Jung recalls his memory.
In spite of difficult situation, Jung has taught developing countries the high quality and world-class research results developed in Korea. When asked about the reason he has been more enthusiastic than others, he answered, “While working as a researcher and developer for more than a decade, I have had a sense of duty on what I do. I have worked very hard because I love to see the technologies I put a lot of efforts be completed and be useful not only in Korea but also in other countries.” He said, “Dr. Jun-ha Jin, my senior researcher, began working in IAEA in September 2003 so I, at an early 30s, had to take charge in RCA project as well as related R&D project generally. I think that’s one of the reasons I feel more responsible for my job.”
>>International cooperation not unilateral but mutual
The RCA project is not simply to teach and transfer technologies to developing countries. Through various international cooperative activities, member countries can review one another’s work and read the global trend, which leads to mutual cooperation. Companies that learn technologies through the RCA naturally have positive images on donor countries. It is especially true for countries that aggressively support the technology learning project.
“In Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, the governments enthusiastically support the technologies development and utilization and a number of government institutions take part in the project,” Dr. Jung mentioned.
Given the professional trait of the work, there are limits for member countries to help one another through the RCA. However, in the long term, building cooperative relationswith Asia-Pacific member countries can have beneficial effects on other sectors. Ultimately, the RCA project helps Korea enhanceits national image and lift the national competitiveness. That’s why it is very important. “We have to actively attend international meetings and present our opinions to raise our voice on a global stage. All that helps upgrade international status of Korea,” he stressed.
Dr.Jung has researched the industrial application technology of radioisotope for the past eighteen years and he wants the field to be more vitalized. He explains his future plans saying, “In order to put the industrial application measuring technology of radioisotope to practical use, I am planning to do contact on-site research which is helpful for national industry through positive experiment and on-site application. I also hope that the technologies take roots in industry and help create jobs.”