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Dear respected members of the Korean Mathematical Society,

Year 2016 is the 70th anniversary of the Society. Its history encompasses the colorful road of growth and ordeals the Korean mathematical community took since Korea’s liberation and demonstrates an outstanding advancement that has rarely been witnessed.
By 1982, three SCI papers have been published by Korean mathematicians. This number, which merely rose to ten in the early 1990s, increased explosively in the 2000s. In June 2006, Korea’s International Mathematical Union (IMU) group category elevated from Group 2 to Group 4. Such group change of two steps at once is still unheard of in the history of IMU and has amazed the entire global mathematical community. By 2012, Korea has published 943 SCI papers and was ranked 11th in the world’s ranking of numbers of mathematical papers.

2014 Seoul International Congress of Mathematicians (SEOUL ICM 2014) drew record numbers of participants and participating countries. The Congress organized various scientific and cultural programs to provide both scholars and the general public with a unique and fulfilling experience and was evaluated to be a huge success. The travel grant program of the Congress, NANUM, represented Korea’s sense of international responsibility in supporting underprivileged researchers of developing countries and played a critical role in improving the national status. The Congress, all in all, improved the global competence of Korean mathematics and raised the awareness of the growing importance of mathematics. Korean mathematical community should utilize SEOUL ICM 2014 as a catalyst to continue the miracle in further advancing mathematical research at home and abroad.

On the other hand, in spite of such rapid growth of mathematical competence, mathematical culture of Korea seems to continuously regress in general. As mathematics departments merged preferentially in the process of reconstructing college curriculums, mathematical community has constantly downsized. This phenomenon is likely to continue for the next several years due to the decreasing school-aged population. Another primary cause is the difficulty in passing on proper mathematical culture to the next generation as the majority of secondary school students study mathematics solely for the purpose of taking the college entrance exam.

Several tasks remain in defining the direction our mathematical community should take in compliance with the needs of the times. Namely, they are as follows: 
  • To improve the quality of mathematical research in Korea and strengthen its global competence
  • To prepare measures to produce a Fields Medalist from Korea and winners of other major mathematics prizes
  • To disseminate mathematical culture not only among members of the science community but also to the general public and the future generation
  • To examine on how mathematics contribute to the industry in practice and establish appropriate strategies
  • To induce a balanced regional development
In addition, there is also the task of celebrating the 70-years-long history of the Society (for details, please refer to the 2015 January issue of the KMS Newsletter). For all these to be well achieved, we must come together in one accord to further advance mathematical research, to promote the rights of mathematicians and to contribute to the societal development at large. It is still hard to believe that ICM was hosted in Korea in our time. It was possible as the mathematical community today had the benefit of ceaseless efforts of elder mathematicians. I make it my duty and commitment to continue their spirit and for the Society to move forward one step at a time, all the while actively interacting and sharing concerns with all interested individuals.
22 January 2015
Yong Hoon Lee
President of Korean Mathematical Society
Professor of Mathematics at Pusan National University

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