“A Treasure of the Korean Mathematic World”


Kim Ji Jong was the trailblazer of modern mathematics in Korea, the first math academician of the DPRK and one of intellectuals who devoted himself to education and development of mathematics.

He was born in Pyongyang on April 8, 1910.

He was very enthusiastic about learning. After graduation from the then Pyongyang secondary school, he continued his studying under adversity in a foreign country. While doing part-time jobs such as a tutor, he devoted himself to studying, and was famed as a talent during his university days.

After graduation, he brushed away the request to remain in the university and came back to Korea in 1938. Working as a teacher in Seoul, he strived to train Korean mathematicians, but he experienced the bitter sorrow of a ruined nation under the Japanese military occupation. In September 1946 he was dismissed from his professorship on a charge of his taking part in a struggle against the colonial policy of education after Korea’s liberation (August 1945).

He wandered about aimlessly before coming over to the northern half of Korea after receiving the credentials of President Kim Il Sung.

After working as the head of a department of Physics and Mathematics Faculty of Kim Il Sung University, he could enjoy the genuine life as an intellectual and teacher. He was a man of impassioned thinking and enthusiasm and made tangible contributions to developing mathematics of the country and training mathematicians.

He was a genuine educationist who made academic performance the first consideration. The following happened when Kim Il Sung University was founded in October 1946. Some famous mathematicians of the former Soviet Union came to Korea to give extramural lectures at the university. But they were struck with admiration at his remarkable abilities and turned their lectures over to him and returned home.

He mapped out a new teaching program of mathematics and developed 20 subjects of mathematics, including analytics, algebra, analytical geometry, probability theory and operations research. He also wrote many textbooks, reference books and other books, including “Higher Mathematics” (five volumes) and realized the publication of “Mathematics and Physics”, the first scientific magazine of the country.

He not only devoted his all to preparing lectures and giving them in a perfectly logical and profound way but also made exacting demands on them. Students gave him a nickname “Jijong Pass” as it was difficult for them to pass his subject.

From 1952 he held an additional post of the first director of the Physical Mathematics Institute of the State Academy of Sciences.

He retired from office at the end of 1976, but he continued his work: He translated many patent documents conducive to developing mathematics of the country and donated over 1,500 books he had kept as heirlooms to the State for the development of science and education of the coming generations.

The State highly appreciated his merits and awarded him many orders, medals and official commendations.

“Kim Ji Jong was a treasure of the Korean mathematic world,” said his disciple Jo Ju Gyong (September 1931-November 2002) who was an academician, professor and doctor. Under the guidance of Kim, he made public “Stochastic Integral Equation” in the International Mathematicians’ Conference in his thirties, striking the world with wonder.

Almost all the academicians, professors and doctors of the DPRK who constitute the think tank in the sectors of mathematics and mechanics are the disciples of Kim Ji Jong.

With unabated zeal, Kim wrote Modern Mathematics Dictionary (three volumes) until the last moment of his life.

On April 8, 1997 he passed away at the age of 87, after leaving his last words were “I’ll go… as I solved all math problems”.

Categories: History

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