Monthly Archives: July 2012

Depression Can Worsen Knee Pain

Treating mental as well as physical health may alleviate symptoms.

By Jennifer Davis


3/23/11 Depression could make symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, or OA, feel even worse. In fact, a study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgerysays depression can have just as strong an effect on knee pain as physical damage.

“This was found to be particularly true in patients with radiographic findings of less severe – mild to moderate – knee osteoarthritis,” says lead author Tae Kyun Kim, MD, PhD, director of the division of knee surgery and sports medicine at the Joint Reconstruction Center at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in South Korea.

Dr. Kim’s research team studied data taken between 2005 and 2006 from 660 Korean men and women older than age of 65. They measured the severity of participant’s OA damage with X-rays, questioned patients about their pain and interviewed them to diagnose depressive disorders. Those with the most joint damage reported feeling the most pain, but more surprising was that patients with mild to moderate knee OA who were experiencing depression also reported severe pain, even if X-rays didn’t show the significant damage that typically indicates pain.

“Pain is a complex phenomenon which is influenced by many factors, including several physical and psychological factors,” Dr. Kim explains. “Concurrent pain and depression have a much greater impact than either disorder alone on multiple domains of functional status.”

Researchers say their findings highlight the need for doctors to be on the lookout for depression in their knee OA patients.

“We believe that one simple and practical option for an orthopeadic clinic would be to establish a consultation system with relevant psychiatrists who can identify and treat depression, if found, in patients who continue to complain of severe symptoms that are discordant with the radiographic severity of knee osteoarthritis and who do not respond to treatment modalities,” Dr. Kim suggests.

Jon T. Giles, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and rheumatologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, says this study adds further weight to the existing medical literature highlighting the effect of psychosocial issues on pain responses.

“Painful sensations are relayed through the brain in a very complex way, and can be modulated up or down,” he says. With stress, poor sleep, anxiety and depression, which are known to influence pain levels, “stimuli feel more painful than they would in someone without the adverse psychosocial factors. This probably explains in part why the largest effect of depression in the study was seen in those without much OA to see on X-rays.”

Because depression might amplify pain responses in OA and other musculoskeletal conditions, Dr. Giles says, clinicians should use antidepressants and other treatments if necessary to alter mood, rather than just prescribing medications designed to block pain.

“Antidepressant medications have been found to have analgesic as well as antidepressant effects,” agrees Dr. Kim.

Dr. Giles says it’s also important for caregivers who treat musculoskeletal conditions to screen patients for potential psychological aggravators of pain and refer them for treatment when needed.

Pension Obligations and Rights


Mandatory Pension Contributions:

Since 1999, all foreign workers between the ages of 18 and 60, regardless of the size of the workplace or the number of employees, have been included in the mandatory Korean National Pension Scheme with only a few exceptions. If you fall within one of the following categories, you do not have to be enrolled in the NPS and you do not have to pay the contributions:

1. You are a citizen of one of the 17 nations that do not mandate Korean citizens working in your country to pay into its pension plan: Armenia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Tonga, Vietnam.

2. You are in one of the following categories: culture & art, study abroad, industrial training, general training, religion, etc.

3. You are over 60 years of age


Calculation of Pension Contribution:

The law requires that Korean and Foreign workers be treated equally. According to the NPS, “…there is no discrimination in terms of the benefit amount and remitting benefit abroad, etc.” The contribution is calculated by multiplying the worker’s reported (by the employer) monthly income by the 9% rate (between minimum W220,000 and maximum W3,600,000). Both the employer and the employee each pay an equal amount of the required 9% contribution. The employer deducts 4.5% from the employee’s wage and must make the matching 4.5% contribution payment at the same time.


Pension Contribution Refund:

Although Korea’s NPS policy does not call for repayments of their pension contributions when foreign workers leaving the country. However, if you are a citizen of a nation that grants Koreans working in that country a lump-sum refund (see list below*) or one that has concluded an agreement with Korea to secure benefit rights by combining the insured period in each country: Canada, France, Germany, Hungary and the United States.

*Venezuela, Grenada, Nigeria, Barbados, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Congo, Thailand, Togo, Belize, Ghana, Malaysia, Bermuda, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, El Salvador, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Trinidad and Togo, Hong Kong, Turkey, Colombia, Philippines, and Vanuatu. (List valid as of June 2007 – duration of contributions requirements apply – for more details or up-to-date info visit National Pension Scheme).


For information on International Social Security Agreements click on then click on English. Near the bottom of the English page, you’ll see Social Security Agreement/Contracting Countries. Click on your country (if it’s there).


Refund Procedure:

If you are a national from one of the country’s listed above and have met the requirements, you may be entitled to receive both your and your employer’s NPS contributions. (Conditions do apply so check with the Korean National Pension Scheme website and visit your own Embassy in Seoul’s website).

Documents required when you visit your regional NPS office**:

i)your passport;

ii)your alien registration;

iii)a copy of your bank book (Korean or Canadian bank – but unless the payment is made prior to your departure, you may to give a home bank or ensure that you can access your Korean account after you’ve left the country) and

iv)an airline ticket showing your one-way departure date (e-ticket should be OK).


Your employer will also have to report the termination of the contract to the National Pension Service (NPS) of Korea upon your departure from the country. The NPS will deposit the refund in your bank account after it confirms your departure.


Note: It is also possible to apply for your refund either through an attorney in your home country and on your own, by mail, In both cases, you will have to provide a copy of your passport, a copy of your local bank book, and likely documents proving that you’ve made the payments and that you’re entitled to receive the refund (keep a copy of your alien registration card/number and receive a copy of the necessary documentation from your employer prior to your departure.

Application forms can be found on the National Pension Scheme website:

For Korean Benefits:

For Overseas Remittance:

Korean Pension Benefits:

Foreign contributors to the Korean National Pension Scheme may also choose to receive their benefits (if/when eligible) rather than take the lump-sum refund. The benefits can be remitted overseas if they have left Korea. However, those who have taken the lump-sum refund are no longer eligible to claim benefits.


**Addresses and Contact Details for the Seoul and Regional NPS offices can be found on the National Pension Scheme website Click on English - on the English Page look to the right to the map of Korea, click on Go>> and the list of offices will appear. Click on the one you want and all the contact details will appear.

When visiting the NPS office look for the sign that says “Kuk min yeon geum(국민연금)

NPS Central Information Line: ‘dial’ 1355 (English-speaker usually)

Editor’s Note: The information above is based on the information K4E has available at the time of writing. Given how difficult it is to obtain clear and complete information in Korea as well as how quickly rules can change, please see this as a guide and do follow-up with the appropriate Korean government bodies to confirm its accuracy and/or to get the most current answers. K4E would appreciate your feedback should you find out that our information is out-of-date.

The Heart Disease Scam That Generates Over $100 Billion a Year… And May Cost You Your Life


Find out why doctor-recommended heart treatments only benefit 3% of patients…and how you can slash your heart disease risk without drugs, surgery, or mainstream medical intervention

By Ian Robinson


Heart disease is America’s number one killer. One out of every two Americans over the age of

65 has atherosclerosis - a condition that damages or kills heart tissue and can lead to sudden heart failure and even death.


It’s likely that you or a loved one will face this killer head-on at some point in your life. So you need to understand exactly what you’re up against… and learn exactly how to protect your heart - and your life.


To do that you have to know how lifestyle choices affect your heart. And what’s going to damage it over time.


The big problem is… most of the things your doctor tells you about protecting your heart are based on flawed, out-dated theories. So each day you may be injuring your heart a little more… just by following your doctor’s advice. And because your doctor is proceeding from a false assumption… many of the things he does to treat your failing heart only make it worse.


Mainstream doctors typically address atherosclerosis with one of three treatments:

•             Coronary angioplasty, with or without stents

•             Coronary bypass or “open heart” surgery

•             Statin drug therapy

Each year over one million Americans opt for coronary angioplasty. 427,000 Americans have open heart surgery. And US doctors write 11.6 million prescriptions for statin drugs - each month…


But overwhelming research - from respected medical institutions like Stanford University and Harvard Medical School - reveals evidence that these treatments are money-making scams that do more harm than good.


When we found out that these multi-billion-dollar treatments were putting patients in harm’s way, we sought out answers. It was easy to understand why doctors would continue to prescribe these treatments. Combined, they generate over $100 billion each year for the medical industry.


But why aren’t these treatments effective?


It turns out that these traditional options don’t combat heart disease effectively because they don’t address the disease’s actual cause.


No studies prove that any of these options fix the root cause of heart disease.


But published studies do show:

•             Two big reasons why current medical thinking on heart disease is flawed. And why this approach doesn’t improve heart health…

•             That doctors overestimate artery narrowing to justify surgery, according to Harvard Medical School.

•             How 30 percent of all heart surgery is totally unnecessary…

•             How bypass surgery kills patients: the death rate has quadrupled in recent years - and continues to rise…

And that’s not all. Three different clinical trials showed coronary bypass surgery only benefits three percent of patients…


One Harvard doctor says, “For almost everyone else… there are no survival benefits at all.”


He believes “cardiology and heart surgery are the cash cows of the American health-care system.”


And his theory is supported by findings from Stanford. In a study of 900 bypass patients, researchers found that surgery helped at first… but didn’t fix the underlying problem. They found that these risky and costly surgeries buy some time… but the problem comes back. And it doesn’t take much time to return. In fact, health issues often reappeared in much less than five years.


Conventional Medicine Isn’t Tackling the Cause of Heart Disease

What all that research shows is that conventional medicine is not tackling heart disease the right way.


You may be doing everything your doctor tells you to do to keep your heart healthy. You may be cutting fat. You may be eating a low cholesterol diet. But if conventional thinking is wrong… then your doctor’s advice may be a surefire way to damage your heart and send you to the surgeon’s table.


Your average doctor will tell you that dietary cholesterol causes atherosclerotic plaque. And that’s what triggers heart attacks.


But one of the world’s foremost heart surgeons says that’s not true. He’s performed over 5,000 open heart surgeries and was Chief Resident at Yale University hospital.


He says that targeting cholesterol won’t help your heart… because it’s based on flawed assumptions.


That’s because atherosclerosis isn’t triggered by cholesterol.


Now, I’m not saying cholesterol should be ignored. Cholesterol buildup is the consequence of the realcause of heart disease… and that’s a serious problem. But once you treat the real cause… then lowering your bad LDL cholesterol is far simpler and more natural than conventional medicine would have you believe.


Misunderstanding cholesterol’s role in heart attacks is not the only mistake that average doctors make…



Heart Attacks Are Not Caused by Plaque Itself…

Instead, your own “defense system” is working against you.


I’ll explain more in a minute.


But first, I want you to be fully aware of the implications of what I’ve just told you.


If these commonly held beliefs about heart health are just plain wrong… And your doctor is likely prescribing methods that don’t work to resolve the underlying cause of heart disease… what doesprotect your heart? And how can you take action to protect yourself?


To answer these questions we’ve gone back to those respected institutions and reviewed their findings… And have discovered the true cause of heart disease.


We can now reveal the best and safest ways to combat it.


We’ve uncovered:

•             Research that shows how one all-natural supplement is 10 percent more effective at reducing heart-related death than statin drugs…

•             Findings from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research that prove one specific food group reduces heart disease risk by 15 percent in just three months…

•             A Harvard study that shows how one type of exercise drastically slashes heart disease risk…


The Safest Ways to Reverse Heart Disease

A medical professor from the University of California, San Francisco - the founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California - is the lead author of the revolutionary Lifestyle Heart Trialstudy. This study shows that a lifestyle regimen can stop coronary artery disease in its tracks. And not just that… it can actually reverse it.


He combined diet, exercise, and an ancient discipline to create a comprehensive lifestyle plan to combat artery disease.


Subjects in the study saw a reversal of their coronary atherosclerosis after just one year.


This professor is not alone in his work. The head dietician of the Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Heart Center has come up with the exact foods you need to eat to lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol.


She says, “There really is an abundance [of foods] that are good for your heart.”


Her findings are backed up by a study on 4,000 people that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


The best benefits come from foods in their natural state: as unprocessed as possible.


The foods on her list are all widely available and easy to get hold of. In fact, you’ll find them in the produce aisle at your local grocery store.


Then there’s one seed that offers a whole host of heart benefits. Researchers who were investigating high cholesterol put this seed to the clinical test. They gave the seed to patients with high cholesterol levels for 60 days.


At the end of the study, they found that the seed:

•             Drops total cholesterol by 17.2 percent

•             Decreases bad (LDL) cholesterol by 3.9 percent

•             Slashes triglycerides by 36.3 percent

The seed contains an essential fatty acid that been shown to improve heart health in several studies. Plus… it contains one vital compound that can lower blood pressure.


But that’s not all you can do to combat heart disease naturally, inexpensively, and easily.


Boost Heart Health with These 8 Essentials

A biochemist at the University of California has identified the eight essential antioxidants to combat heart problems. Antioxidants are a big factor in heart health. They neutralize free radicals and help to combat the oxidation of bad cholesterol that contributes to heart disease. Each of these eight antioxidants specifically strengthens heart health.


One of these antioxidants can be found in everyday foods like oils, nuts, and meat. It’s been shown to reduce heart disease rates by 40 percent.


Another antioxidant is produced in your own body and provides energy to your heart tissue. The problem is that you produce less of it as you age. Furthermore, some statin drugs actually deplete your levels of it. But you can make up the shortfall from eating certain organ meats… or taking it in supplement form.


A third antioxidant found in some fruits can lower bad cholesterol. A study conducted by the Natural Products Utilization Research Center showed it worked better than a prescription drug in combatting high cholesterol.


But heart health is not all about antioxidants.

Stem Cell Treatments in South Korea: Cartistem & RNL Bio Stem Cell Deaths



World’s 2nd stem cell drug batch to get thumbs-up: A new batch of stem cell-based medicines—only the world’s second so far—is set to be approved this month by South Korean authorities.


Two South Korean biotechnology firms expect their stem cell drugs—Cartistem, a treatment of damaged cartilage produced by Medipost Inc. and a stem cell-based anal fistula drug by Anterogen Co.— to be approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA)



Medipost’s Cartistem is a drug for treating degenerative arthritis and knee cartilage defects.


“We are currently reviewing documents additionally submitted by each company. Permission will be issued sooner or later,” a KFDA official said on condition of anonymity.


If Cartistem and Anterogen’s anal fistula treatment medicine get the green light, they could be available on the market within a month or two, according to market watchers.


According to experts, because the drugs do not use analogous stem cells from patients, these can be mass-produced and its quality can be maintained better but stem cells from other people.


Last July, South Korea became the world’s first country to approve a stem cell-based drug called Hearticellgram-AMI that is used to treat acute myocardial infarction.


The drug is produced by FCB-Pharmicell, a company based in Seongnam, south of capital city Seoul.




Stem Cell is a Medicine: Korean Supreme Court Ruling

04 November 2021


Are stem cells considered as medicines? If you are in South Korea, the answer — according to a recent Supreme Court decision — is “Yes”. Hence, stem cell therapies must require approval from the Korea Food and Drug Administration before they are administered on patients.


According to the Korea Times, the Korean Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision which ruled in favor of patients who underwent stem cell transplantation in a Seoul clinic but “found no improvement”.


More from Korea Times:


Justice Min Young-il ruled in favor of 60-year-old Choi and eight others who filed a suit against Kim, an operator of a clinic in Seoul, because the stem cell transplantations they had received were not as effective as they were told they would be.


Min said, “Stem cell use is considered a medicine if it was extracted from the human body for treatment purposes. The clinic’s transplantation without approval from the Korea Food and Drug Administration is a violation of the Pharmaceuticals Law.


Moreover, the use of stem cells was still undergoing debate at the time and the practice was still in the experimental stage.”


The clinic was ordered to pay anywhere between 16 and 30 million won to each of the nine plaintiffs for “having failed to fully explain the risks associated with the practice and for providing uncertain information about the much-hyped treatment”.




Stem Cell Treatment Safety: Patient Deaths After Stem Cell Injections

27 October 2021


Are stem cell therapies safe? Check out the story below about safety concerns surrounding RNL Bio, a South Korean biotechnology firm, and the death of its patients following stem cell treatments in China and Japan.



Questions regarding the safety of stem cell treatments continue to land in the news. Earlier, the death of a baby who underwent therapy at the Xcell Stem Cell Center in Germany became the subject of news stories by The Daily Telegraph.


Now a biotechnology company in South Korea, RNL Bio, is at the center of a controversy following claims that its patients died following stem cell treatments in Japan and China. The stem cell treatment is not approved by health authorities in South Korea so RNL Bio directs its patients to other countries.


The company is contesting suggestions that the two patients died because of the treatment they received and contends that the deaths and the therapy they received are not related at all.


Another patient is claiming that he developed cancer on his neck just weeks after he had stem cell injections in China. RNL Bio CEO Ra Jeong-chan also disputes this claim.


More from the Korea Times:


“There has been no scientific evidence reported here or elsewhere that stem cell injections can be the cause of cancer or cardiovascular disease. In fact our studies with the Seoul National University (SNU) suggest that stem cell injections rather help suppress such conditions,’’ Ra said at a Seoul news conference, which had a circus atmosphere as RNL employees tussled with a group of five or six people, claiming themselves to be victims of faulty stem cell treatments, who attempted to enter the conference room.


Ra added to the drama by bringing up one of his clients, who didn’t reveal his name but spoke emotionally about how the stem cell treatment he received in China saved him from having to have his foot amputated, which was severely damaged due to a diabetes-related infection.


“The 73-year-old patient who died in Japan was a former surgeon, who had been in a state of fatigue, probably due to the flight, and failed to inform Japanese doctors that he previously had heart surgery before the stem cell injections. The patient who received stem cell treatments in China didn’t die there, but in a Korean hospital after failing to wake up from anesthesia, so it’s hard to see the cases being related,’’ Ra said.


According to Ra, RNL has so far introduced around 8,000 of its patients to foreign clinics that provide stem cell treatments. The company is currently conducting a trial of treatment methods for difficult conditions, such as spinal cord injuries and Buerger disease, but has yet to gain approval from the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA).


Ra claims that RNL has no particular business connections with the clinics in Japan and China it has been directing its clients to.

Google will Unveil Own Tablet

With the ongoing Google I/O developers conference this week will surely come a lot of surprises from the Internet giant, one of which is the anticipated unveiling of a tablet running on their equally new Android operating system, Jellybean.


Google seem to be doing what Microsoft did last week in its unveiling of Surface tablet.


“It seems Google’s trying to do what Microsoft did last week, which is basically tell their partners they no longer trust them to do things right.”


The 7-inch Asus-Google tablets will be made by Quanta Computer and will reportedly run on Jellybean, the latest version of Android’s mobile OS. The first of its kind from Google, the tablet could cost up to USD 250, which should be another reason for Amazon as well as Apple to be on the alert.


The Nexus 7 Google tablet will sport a 1.2 megapixel front camera, a 178 degree viewing angle, 1280×800 resolutions and 1Gb RAM with NFC capability (plus a Google Wallet feature for US customers). Its battery life could last up to 9 hours and will have the Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 processor.


There will be an 8Gb and a 16Gb version, costing around USD 200 and USD 245. Australians could buy ahead of everyone else as it will be released there in July but no dates yet in the US.


Springhill Group Counselling has previously reported that Google might introduce its own voice assistant for its mobile devices, directly taking on Apple’s Siri on iPhone, and give a tech demo of its Project Glass.


Google seems to be under pressure to synergize its Android operating system for tablets and smartphones that has already suffered from “fragmentation” as rival device makers compete by putting creative spins on freeware. In comparison, developers could make applications that work on all Apple devices while Android developers are burdened with the need to adapt their apps to the different instances of the OS.