By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, Oct. 23 (Yonhap) — Yohan Ihn, the newly-appointed chairman of the ruling People Power Party’s (PPP) innovation committee, is not only the first foreigner to pass the country’s medical licensing examination but also the first special naturalized citizen.
Fluent in Korean, using the dialect of the Jeolla region in the southern part of the country, Ihn, also known by his English name John A. Linton, was granted South Korean citizenship as a “foreign special contributor” in 2012.
The government recognized his family’s contributions to the country in education and the medical system, spanning four generations.
A great-grandson of American missionary Eugene Bell, Ihn was born in 1959 in Suncheon, 290 kilometers south of Seoul, in South Jeolla Province, a traditional stronghold of the progressive bloc.
After graduating from Yonsei University College of Medicine, he obtained a medical license in 1987. Since 1991, he has served as the chairman of Severance Hospital International Health Care Center in Seoul.
His grandfather, William Linton, was a missionary who devoted most of his life to exposing Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula to the outside world.
The elder Linton, who came to Korea in 1912 as a Christian missionary, led an uprising of teachers in 1919 while serving as the headmaster at a school and constantly appealed for international attention to the circumstances in Korea.
Ihn’s father, Hugh Linton, was a U.S. Navy officer who participated in the Incheon Landing Operation that saved South Korea from the brink of defeat and decisively turned the tide of the 1950-53 Korean War. The war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula still technically in a state of conflict.
The new chief’s connection to the conservative political bloc dates back to 2012 when he took part in the transition team launched by former President Park Geun-hye.
Transactions between the PPP and Ihn have continued since President Yoon Suk Yeol took office.