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Journal editing and publishing practices during the first quarter century since the establishment of the Korean Chemical Society in 1946
Jung-Il Jinorcid
Science Editing 2015;2(1):3-9.
Published online: February 28, 2015

KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science & Technology, Korea University, Seoul, Korea

Correspondence to Jung-Il Jin
• Received: December 11, 2014   • Accepted: January 21, 2015

Copyright © Korean Council of Science Editors

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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  • This article aims to provide the history of the editing practices and the development of the Journal of the Korean Chemical Society (JKCS) during the first quarter century since its first publication in 1949, following the establishment of the Korean Chemical Society in 1946. This article was based on previous literatures on the history of the Korean Chemical Society published in 1971 and 1999. During the 1940s and 1950s, societal chaos, an economic crisis, and the lack of human resources made it difficult to publish JKCS. Although academic journals were highly valued, it took a long time to develop a systematic approach to compiling, editing, and publishing them. In the 1960s, Korean society entered a stable period and the number of chemists increased; this made it possible, in 1971, to speed up the process of systematizing and advancing academic journal editing in time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Korean Chemical Society. When JKCS was first being developed, sacrifices made by a few pioneers were the main driving force of the journal. The history of editing JKCS can be seen as a microcosm of the entire history of Korean academic journal editing.
This article aims to provide the history of the editing practices and the development of the Journal of the Korean Chemical Society (JKCS) during the first quarter century since its first publication in 1949, following the establishment of the Korean Chemical Society (KCS) in 1946. The historical events and works by the editorial board of the KCS were described based on the content published on December 31, 1971, entitled “The twenty-five-year history of the Korean Chemical Society” [1]. Some part of the present article was also based on “The fifty-year history of Korean Chemical Society (1946-1996),” published in June 1999 [2].
The KCS, one of the oldest academic societies in Korea, was established on July 7, 1946 under the name of the Chosun Chemical Society. Its present name, KCS, has been in use since 1949. In 2016, it will celebrate its 70th anniversary. As one of the largest academic society in Korea, with approximately 5,000 members, the KCS hosts a general assembly, a provisional general assembly, and annual academic conferences in April and October at now. However, the KCS had very humble beginnings. On August 15, 1945, Korea was liberated from the Japanese colonial rule. The ensuing societal and political chaos made it impossible to set up the KCS until a Korean government was officially established in August, 1948. The Society’s first general assembly was held in a Seoul National University auditorium on September 6, 1948. A variety of people attended this meeting: KCS members, students, and honored guests including Minister of Education, Minster of Commerce and Industry, and president of Seoul National University. An honored guest said that founding of the KCS was a matter of national importance. After being postponed several times, the KCS’ second general assembly was held in the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry auditorium in Sogong-dong, Seoul from December 15 to 17, 1949. More than 300 people attended this meeting, which was perceived as successful. Unfortunately, the KCS was disrupted soon after this assembly due to the Korean War originated from North Korean invasion on June 25, 1950. To make matters worse, all of the documents belonged to the KCS were lost when the Department of Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Seoul National University in Cheongnyangri, Seoul where the KCS office was located was burned to the ground during the Korean War. In addition, the KCS was forced to elect new executives when its first president, Taikyu Ree, who had directed efforts to normalize the KCS for two consecutive terms, moved to the United States in September, 1948 (Fig. 1). Later, Dong-Hyuk Ahn and Dong-Il Kim took it in turns to be the president of the Society. Copies of the first issue of the first volume of the JKCS (Dae-Han Hwahak Hoeji), were destroyed during the war, just as they were about to be distributed to members. Fortunately, a few copies had already been distributed to some of the leading members and were saved.
While the Korean government was based in a temporary capital in Busan during the Korean War, the KCS campaigned for reinstatement and held its third general assembly at Chungang Susan Shiheomjang (Central Experimental Fishery Station) located in Young-do, Busan on February 26, 1951. This assembly was attended by around 100 people including 50 members, all passionate supporters. Remarkably, in spite of very difficult circumstances, KCS members managed to publish 130 copies of the first issue of the second volume of JKCS in July, 1952. Another notable KCS’ achievement was establishing the Committee of Chemical Terminology to undertake the project of defining basic chemical terminology in response to a request from the Ministry of Education of the Korean government in 1951. The fourth general assembly and academic conference attracting around 300 attendees were held from December 13 to 14, 1952 at a temporary school building belonged to the College of Engineering, Seoul National University in Busan. While the KCS was preparing to publish its third issue of JKCS, a truce between the United Nations Command and North Korea/China was signed on July 27, 1953. The Korean government and other organizations moved back to Seoul in August 1953, and the office of the KCS was also moved to Seoul, beginning another journey of development.
After the truce, political and social instability and chaos continued and Korean industry was devastated, despite the government’s efforts at post-war recovery. University-level research activities barely existed. On May 16, 1961, General Chung Hee Park took over the government, and started to organize society under a military rule. By forcefully implementing economic development projects, the government succeeded in reviving economic and industrial activities, and the KCS became active again. In 1963, the KCS joined the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and began to host special lectures, inviting US scholars.
KCS directors made so much progress that in 1963 they began to publish four issues a year of JKCS, and in 1971 (the 25th year since the organization was founded) five issues a year. One of the most intriguing aspects of the history of the KCS is that its bylaws for editorial board, peer review, and distribution of print copies of the journal were established between 1964 and 1970, while the first instructions to authors were enacted much earlier, on October 10, 1948.
When the KCS was first founded, the president, vice president (1 to 2 people), and several administrative secretaries or executives were responsible for running the organization. The administration consisted of one or two secretaries, responsible for accounting, general affairs, and editing of JKCS. The fact that the first general assembly appointed one editorial secretary (pyonjib gansa), four editorial board members, and six editorial advisors indicated that the KCS had journal publication in mind from the beginning and took it very seriously. Initially, the society did not have enough money to publish JKCS. Three years later, in the second half of 1949, a benefactor donated 500,000 Korean won (the annual membership fee was only 600 Korean won) so that the KCS began work on the first issue of its journal. Receiving manuscripts submission, however, was difficult because of the small number of members (under 100) and the generally depleted research environment. Moreover, it was quite challenging to print scientific journal pages including numeric, symbols, and foreign languages with inadequate printing facilities. After many trials and errors, the KCS succeeded in printing the first issue of JKCS in June 1950 and were ready to distribute it, when North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25. During the war, the building where the KCS office was located burned down and all of its documents were destroyed. For this reason, only a few copies of the first issue of the first volume of JKCS still exist today. Dr. Chwa-Kyung Sung, the editorial secretary who was responsible for journal editing later said in an interview that the review process was very superficial and editorial secretaries rewrote articles so that they would meet the instructions to authors (Fig. 2). Such practices continued until the first issue of the fourth volume was published at the end of 1957. The first issue of the first volume of JKCS contained three reviews and 14 original articles (Figs. 3, 4). Although the cover records the date of publication as December 25, 1949, actual printing and publication of this issue was not completed until June, 1950.
The first instructions to authors of JKCS enacted on October 10, 1948 were simple but exemplary as shown below:
  • 1) The manuscript has not been published in any other journal.

  • 2) The review is the responsibility of the editorial board.

  • 3) The editorial board is able to revise the manuscript.

  • 4) The date that a manuscript arrives at the editorial office is the date of receipt.

  • 5) The length of a manuscript should be equal to or less than 15 pages of wongoji (manuscript paper with squares for four hundred characters) including tables and figures.

  • 6) A manuscript should be written from left to right and correctly not in the running style.

  • 7) The table should be neatly written with a bud (ink brush). Line drawing should be thin.

  • 8) An abstract in Korean should be included on the front page of a manuscript.

  • 9) An Abstract in English, German, or French which is less than 800 characters should be included. Type the abstract with a typewriter if possible.

  • 10) All tables and figures should be presented in English, German, or French.

  • 11) References should be included at the end of the paper, with numbered footnotes in the main text. The following order should be kept: author’s name, journal title, volume, page, and year. Underline the number of the volume.

  • 12) Only members of the KCS is eligible to submit a manu script; however, non-member(s) may be included as co-authors.

  • 13) Measurements should be in metric system (International System of Units).

  • 14) Numeric should be in Arabic and should be written as follows: 75°C to 85°C, 9 to 11 hours, 78,960 t.

  • 15) In the following cases, additional cost will be charged to author(s): first, when figures (photos or drawings) are printed on a coated paper; second, when a drawing needs revision, or when a series of manuscript are submitted.

  • 16) The abbreviations of journals should follow those in Chemical Abstract. Metric units should be written as follows: m (meter), cm, km, m2, m3, ℓ, g, kg, mg, t (ton), %, pH, mmHg, cal, kcal, °C, Volt, and Amp.

In the early years, manuscripts were not peer-reviewed as they are today, but had to be accepted by the editorial board. In reality, editorial secretaries had absolute authority; their decision was merely reported to the editorial board. Several years after the first issue of the first volume of JKCS was published, publishing the journal remained challenging, and the publication date was irregular. The first issue of the second volume of JKCS was published on July 10, 1952 including one review, 12 original articles; however, it was just mimeographed, not printed. The first issue of the third volume was published on July 20, 1954 with seven original articles. The first issue of the fourth volume was published three years later on November 20, 1957 with 17 original articles.
By the time the KCS celebrated its 15th anniversary in 1961, the situation had deteriorated to the point where publication was almost impossible. In the meantime, however, the number of chemists continued to grow, increasing steadily from approximately 30 just before the independence from Japan to 3,000 in 1954, based in 19 chemistry departments and 9 chemical engineering departments in universities. The number of members did not increase as quickly; the fifth general assembly and academic conference, held in November 1954, was attended by 300 members. In 1957, three years later, the first issue of the fourth volume of JKCS was published with much difficulty. In the following year, research activities in Korea stagnated and no papers were submitted. Even in 1959, only four papers were submitted. After many discussions about strategies for reviving the Society and publishing the journal regularly, the KCS was restructured in 1960 by adopting a ‘secretary general’ system in which secretaries were given day-to-day responsibility for running the society. They hoped that the change would encourage young scientists to participate, and bring young candidates to the roles of president and vice-president. To some extent, these expectations were fulfilled; publication of JKCS resumed in 1961. In 1962, they published the first and second issues of its sixth volume. In 1963, there were four issues, published regularly in March, June, September, and December.
Fig. 5 shows the change in the number of KCS members, in the number of published papers and the total number of pages in the published volume for each corresponding year. It is clear that the publication process became stable in 1960s. One or two KCS editorial secretaries were responsible for receiving, reviewing, editing, giving final approval, and publishing. To cope with an expected increase in the number of submitted articles, two standing editors joined the editorial job in 1961. In 1964, ten editorial board members, consisted of experienced members with active research work were appointed to advise and to support the editorial secretaries. Five issues a year were published for the first time in the history of the KCS in 1971. As shown in Fig. 5, the number of KCS members and published papers in JKCS increased greatly during the 1960s, creating a need to review all the statues and bylaws of the Society. The statues of the KCS were extensively revised in 1970; the new statues covered the appointment of two editorial secretaries (associate editors), one editor-in-chief, review process, and the organization of editorial board. Thus, key administrative tasks receiving manuscript, editing, and publishing were allocated to associate editors, while the editorial board had overall responsibility for assigning reviewers, and accepting manuscripts.
Restructuring the instructions to authors
As the number of papers submitted to JKCS increased, the publication process had to be reorganized; this involved revision of the instructions to authors, the review processes, the bylaws of the editorial board, and the bylaws for the Chemical Terminology Committee. Those revisions were overhauled and improved up to the 25th anniversary of the KCS (1971).
The document, instructions to authors enacted on October 10, 1948, was revised at the beginning of the year 1970. These instructions comprised of 16 items, of which the following were new or revised:
  • 1) It allowed a paper published in a foreign journal to be published in Korean in JKCS as long as the editorial board approved, and the author clearly acknowledged the secondary publication.

  • 2) It defined the style and format more precisely, for example, title, author’s name, research location, address of affiliation, and total length of manuscript.

  • 3) It reinforced that all titles and captions for tables and figures should be written in English, German, or French—even though the main text is written in Korean.

  • 4) It explained references style and citation format in the main text in detail.

  • 5) It recommended to use proper nouns in their original languages and to refer to chemical names rather than product names of medical drugs.

  • 6) It asked to use chemical terminologies suggested by the KCS.

Guideline for review
Review and accepting manuscripts submitted to JKCS were based on the “Guideline for review.” It was enacted in June, 1964; a total of 15 items were revised in December, 1964 and again in December, 1970. The main content was as follows:
  • 1)The reviewers are appointed by the editor-in-chief, and at least two reviewers read the same manuscript to determine whether it is eligible to be accepted.

  • 2)When reviewers’ opinions disagree, the editorial board rereviews the manuscript to decide the acceptance.

  • 3)Manuscripts are considered unsuitable for publication in the following cases: the originality of the paper is not clear; the paper lacks logical, clear reasoning to support its discoveries; and the foreign language writing is not suitable to be understood.

  • 4)The result of a review is one of the three: ‘acceptable’, ‘pending’, or ‘unacceptable.’ Pending cases require revision or re-editing.

Bylaws of the editorial board
In JKCS, only the names of editorial secretaries were listed until 1962. In 1963, the names of standing editors were listed, and starting from 1964, the names of editorial board began to appear. One interesting fact is that there were no guidelines defining a standing editor’s responsibilities, or the make-up of the editorial board. The first editorial board guidelines were established in December 1970. Before that, following decisions made by the editorial secretaries, standing editors and senor editors were appointed and reception and review of papers were conducted. However, instructions to authors had been established and followed as described earlier. The bylaws of the editorial board, established in 1970, comprised of 11 items. The main contents were as follows:
  • 1) The board consists of an editor-in-chief, associate editor (former editorial secretary), and 9 editorial board members. The editor-in-chief is recommended by the secretary general and appointed by the president. If editor-in-chief nominates associate editors and editorial board members, the president appoints them.

  • 2) The board follows ‘instructions to authors’ and ‘guideline for review’ and are responsible to review and accept manuscripts.

  • 3) One-half of the editorial board members are replaced every year, and the board’s business is reported at a secretaries’ meeting every two months.

Bylaws for the Chemical Terminology Committee
When the KCS was founded, a majority of its members had studied in Japan. Later, chemists who had studied in Germany, France, and the United States began to join the Society. For this reason, chemical terminology was not consistent. It was necessary to establish official terminology, not only to make it easier for the KCS to publish its journal and encourage communications among members but also in response to a request from the Ministry of Education, which published textbooks for elementary and middle schools. In 1951, while moving to Busan during the Korean War, the KCS had established the Chemical Terminology Committee and started the process of standardizing its chemical terminology. However, the KCS members did not make much progress and the project resumed for another four years from 1961 to 1965. In March 1965, the fruits of this project were introduced in the first issue of the fifth volume of Hwa Hack Goa Kong-up Ui Jinbo (Progress of Chemistry and Industry), a news magazine published by the KCS from March 1961. In addition to the introduction to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry terminology, articles were published on ‘How to name inorganic compounds,’ ‘How to name organic compounds,’ and ‘General chemical terminology.’
The bylaws of the Chemical Terminology Committee with seven items were enacted on April 7, 1966. The committee consisted of one chair and several standing committee members. Committee chair was nominated by the committee members and appointed by the president of the society. They had two-year terms and could serve consecutive terms. The committee chair had to report on the project at a general assembly. Later, the committee was specialized into each area of chemistry, and the general committee adjusted the discrepancy between each field’s committee. In 2007, the 5th edition of the Chemical Terminology Dictionary was published in English-Korean and Korean-English.
The foundation, stabilization, and growth of the KCS may reflect the history of science in Korea. Editing history of JKCS is also a microcosm of changes in society. Societal chaos in the first few years of the Republic was followed by critical events including the Korean War in June 1950, relocation to Seoul after the cease-fire agreement in 1953, General Park’s 1961 military revolution, and economic development in 1960s. During the thirty-six years of Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945, science and technology education in Korea was very limited; an extremely small number of people had studied abroad, including Japan. When the World War II ended in 1945, there were fewer than 50 Korean chemists specializing in chemistry, chemical engineering, applied science, pharmacology, and other related fields. Only about ten of those had doctorates. The number of attendees at the first general assembly, 53, reflects this situation. Moreover, only a few of the existing chemists had ever been involved in editing academic journals. For this reason, the editing quality of the early journals was mediocre, although the papers in the journal were relatively well formatted. However, despite mistakes, the editing was highly commendable, particularly at such an early stage. One unusual feature was that most of the papers in the first issue of the first volume included references in the main text and did not include abstracts. Research papers describing experimental research were structured as follows: introduction, results of the experiment, and conclusion or summary. The author’s affiliation, date of submission, title of the paper, and author’s name were included before the introduction.
These early editing practices became an example for other academic societies to follow. The KCS is currently publishing one of Korea’s oldest academic journals, JKCS 6 times a year. It also has published the Bulletin of the Korean Chemical Society 12 times a year since 1980. Those two journals have been indexed in most well-known international indexing databases. The publication of the monthly newsletter, Chemistry World, formerly known as Progress of Chemistry and Industry, is continuing for the dissemination of the recent news of chemistry world. Those splendid journal publishing practices are originated from the long history of journals and training acquired during the early stage of very poor publication environment. The editing practices of JKCS could lead the development of chemistry and made a positive contribution to the editing and publishing of Korean academic journals by providing expertise and examples of the best practice.

The author has been a member of the KCS since 1964, and has held many different roles, including planning secretary, general affairs secretary, secretary general (1991), president (2000), member of the Academic Committee, and member of the Publication Committee. This article presents the author’s personal opinion, not an official opinion of the KCS.

This work is supported by a grant from the Korean Council of Science Editors (2014-2).
Fig. 1.
Portrait of late Dr. Taikyue Ree (1902-1992) who had been the first and the second President of the Korean Chemical Society.
Fig. 2.
Portrait of late Dr. Chwa-Kyung Sung (1920-1986) who had been the second term ‘pyonjip gansa’ (editorial secretary) of the Journal of the Korean Chemical Society and worked for editing and publishing the first issue of the first volume.
Fig. 3.
Cover page of the first issue of the Journal of the Korean Chemical Society published in May 1950.
Fig. 4.
English content page of the first issue of the Journal of the Korean Chemical Society published in May 1950.
Fig. 5.
Chronological change in the number of articles in the parenthesis and page of the Journal of the Korean Chemical Society, and number of Korean Chemical Society members from 1949 to 1971.
  • 1. Korean Chemical Society. The twenty-five-year history of the Korean Chemical Society. Seoul: Korean Chemical Society; 1971.
  • 2. Korean Chemical Society. The fifty-year history of the Korean Chemical Society (1946-1996). Seoul: Korean Chemical Society; 1999.

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