London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

RIP Sena Lee

Sena Lee on 2 August 2013
Sena Lee on 2 August 2013, her last evening in London before returning to Korea.

Many LKL readers will remember Dr Sena Lee, the Traditional Korean Medicine doctor, and LKL’s medical correspondent. She was in London for three years taking a PhD in western medicine to add to her Korean qualifications. Her articles for LKL can be found here.

Sena Lee with Im Kwon Taek.
Sena Lee with Im Kwon Taek in August 2012. Look closely, and you can see the acupuncture needles (a close-up can be found here)

During her time in London she was a great ambassador for Korean medicine, helping the Korean Tourism Organisation with some of their promotional events. She even ended up giving acupuncture to legendary film director Im Kwon Taek when he visited the facilities at Team Korea House during the London 2012 Olympics. She could also be found at the Thames Festival in 2011 tirelessly promoting the Sancheong 2013 World Traditional Medicine Expo. Sancheong, in Gyeongsangnam-do, is her home county.

Sena died in Seoul of a long-standing heart condition on 22 April 2014. She passed away peacefully in hospital. LKL’s thoughts are with her family, who have been good friends to us over the past few years.

Update 11 May 2014: I will be attending Sena’s final memorial ceremony at the beginning of June in Korea. I shall be gathering together messages from people who knew her in London, to take to her parents. If you would like me to pass on any message, please email me at philip @ the URL of this site (, or leave a comment below.

Update 26 May 2014: a lovely and moving tribute from John Kim, in a song written and performed by him in memory of his father in 1991, but which is equally suitable for Sena. The lyrics are appended in the comments section below.

We Never Really Have To Say Goodbye, 1991 – Lyrics and Music by John Peter Kim

28 thoughts on “RIP Sena Lee

  1. I have not known so far, however I received email for her today.
    I wish, please go to the heaven and I would like to give you my deepest condolences.

  2. I don’t know her or even met her here in London but i wanna give my sincere condolences to the family of Dr. Sena Lee. May she rest in peace and we all know that she’s now in
    heaven with our creator.

  3. Sad to hear that Sena’s untimely death. I met her only a few times. She could have given so much to both society ( Eastern and Western), through her work. And so young.

    My sincere condolence to her family.

    Kie-Jo Sarsfield

  4. We Never Really Have To Say Goodbye
    1991 – Lyrics and Music by John Peter Kim

    First Verse:
    You are someone I won’t forget
    I still recall the day we met
    Though that was a long time away
    It feels like only yesterday
    I never thought this day would come
    The time flew by so fast
    I wish our time together here would last

    For it’s hard to say goodbye
    After we’ve shared all this time
    But I won’t be afraid
    That we’d lose this bond that we have made
    Though we may drift apart
    You’ll stay close in my heart
    So we never really have to say goodbye

    Second Verse:
    Thank you for the time and care
    For sharing in your life and prayers
    You shared with me the joy and tears
    And helped make doubts disappear
    You shared the strength and courage so
    I never stood alone
    I thank you for the spirit you have shown

    It’s hard to say goodbye
    After we’ve shared all this time
    But I won’t be afraid
    That we’d lose this bond that we have made
    Though we may drift apart
    You’ll stay close in my heart
    So we never really have to say goodbye

    Third Verse:
    They say all good things reach an end
    But I know we will meet again
    It’s up to what’s held in our hearts
    Whether we will drift apart
    No matter what might happen
    Or how far away you are
    Your memory is always in my heart

    But it’s hard to say goodbye
    After we’ve shared all this time
    But I won’t be afraid
    That we’d lose this bond that we have made

    Though I know life goes on
    This bond we share is strong
    So we never really have to say goodbye

    Though we may drift apart
    You’ll stay close in my heart
    So we never really have to say goodbye

  5. You may have left early for heaven which is a long long way away, but you will always be close by in my heart as a great friend.
    You will be missed dearly.

  6. I am Sena’s principal PhD supervisor. I had tried to contact her for sometime, but didn’t get a reply from her. This morning I got the bad news that Sena has passed away. It was really shocking! I feel extremely sad for having lost her! This time last year, we were working together to finalize her PhD thesis and get a paper published. The day before her departure for Korea, we discussed her research plan as she would like to continue her research project in Korea. I also sent a reference letter to her early this year as she was applying for a post in her university. Now she left us suddenly.
    Sena has worked hard for her PhD degree and passed her viva smoothly last year. She held high expectancy for a bright life even she was in poor health. Sena was such a lovely lady, always smiling at everyone and always helpful to others. Everyone in the lab likes her. I have so many good memories of her during the three and half years when she worked with me. She’ll be missed greatly! I’ll get the two papers with her as the first author published in the near future, so she can smile in heaven as she had been waiting for the publication of these two papers. Sena, may you rest in peace!

  7. Dear Sena, we will always remember your smile, your gentleness and your journey with us. A new journey has now started for you, away from us – may it continue forever, full of light and beauty.

  8. No words can bring true comfort at this time. Memories just cannot stop flooding back…
    Sena, I’d been seeing your smiling face for three years and a half; we’d been sharing a Rotor-Gene qPCR tube rack for a long time; we were chatting on the way to the DLR station and you told me you were going to meet a friend (BTW, you were really beautiful on that day wearing such an elegant dress); you were asking me the tips for preparing the PhD Viva; you kindly introduced me a delicious nann with coconut flavour on your leaving lunch… Everything’s like it happened yesterday!
    Sena, you was a gift to our lives and will be deeply missed. May you rest in peace. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  9. Welcome to all the visitors from Barts / Queen Mary University of London. I’m sorry you’re visiting at such a sad time. But I’m glad you found out the sad news in time for me to take your messages of condolence to Sena’s family.

  10. Hello Sena
    Did not write to you for kinda of long time while even now I still feel you were in somewhere and would get my messenger. So many memories we had! Not just as colleagues, but also like sisters. We shared so many things! Words are just so pale to describe any sorrowful feelings deep inside my heart.

    I still remember the two whole years we spent happily together since you joined our group from Feb 2009. I was your elder sister but you also looked after me in some way. We shared the happiness and sadness. We encouraged and accompanied each other when we were in blue, and got around together in so many places. Your sweet and tender characteristics impressed me a lot though you were also pretty hard-working for study.

    I still remember the delicious Korea food you cooked for me! You were just so perfect in everything!

    Could not forget your acupuncture skills which were really in some magic!

    Could not say bye to you, Sena…… Every episode about you is just so live! You will always in my heart!

  11. I’m so sorry to hear the sad news, I worked on the same bench as Sena in the Blizard Institute. She was always such a happy, smiley person and she always had a kind word to say. I am proud to call her a friend and may she rest in peace.

  12. Like a storm after a sunny day while hearing that you have started a long long journey, a long long time we would not meet again; Like a warm bright sunshine after a damp chilly day while seeing you smiling just over there, just over there though faraway.

    To Sena, my dear colleague whom I have been working with for several years with the same project; To Sena, a lady with a dream to combine the traditional medicine with modern neuroscience.

  13. This is such sad news, I still remember Sena bringing chocolates from Korea for us at Blizard… so nice of her! Sena was a good, kind and brave soul who showed such fortitude in dealing with the surgeries she had to undergo here in London, managed to finish her thesis and pass the viva…. I pray to God to give her family the courage to bear her loss, and may she rest in peace.

  14. It was so sad to hear that Sena had passed away. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. Although briefly knew her at the beginning of her PhD, I still remembered vividly the time she spent in the lab working hard. She smiled most of the time and was very warm to people around her. Heaven has received another angel, there is no more pain and suffering, but joy and peace, I can see her face, smiling at us…

  15. Sad news, your happy and smiling face are foever in our mind. may you rest in peace in heaven with God!

  16. This is truly sad news. Sena was an extraordinarily kind person who I had the privilege to share the lab with. My thoughts go to her family in this difficult time. Rest in peace Sena, you will always be remembered.

  17. Dear Sena, I just read the sad news and still cannot believe that you are not with us anymore. At the moment, no words can express my grief, but I will miss you forever and was so glad that you were a part of my life. Rest in peace, Sena. My deepest condolences to Sena’s family, it is a very difficult time for you, and I wish you to keep strong.

  18. It is so sad to hear this truly sad news and I find it difficult to believe that you are not with us anymore. Dear Sena, you will always be remembered and I wish I could have said goodbye to you in a different way… You were always happy and smiling.. although everything you went through … and I will always admire you for that! You will always be an example for us! Rest in peace Sena. My thoughts go to your family and friends in this difficult moment.

  19. Dear Sena,

    I still can’t find the words to express the shock that we are all feeling since finding out that you passed away.

    You are, were a wonderful, bright person….always smiling….Rest in Peace

    My thoughts are with your family, God bless you, stay strong.


  20. Hi, Philip
    This is Yo Jae, whom Sena recommended for Korean drama reviews before.
    It was I who was there for her first heart surgery in London and took care of her before her mother came.
    It was a shock yesterday when someone asked me if I know any news from Sena because she red the message on Sena’s Kakao talk profile and I realised what happened.
    It even happened 2months ago~!
    I was so busy with my newly born baby and didn’t have time to check anything till now…
    I don’t know what to say or think as the shock …
    She had bright future ahead….
    I was about to send a message to her to meet up as I was planning to go to Korea.
    Also to show her my son…

    I am so sorry for her mother’s loss as well..

    Sena-ya~! Sena-ya~!

    Yo Jae unni ga man-hi sa rang he…( Your sister Yo Jae loves you so much)
    Rest in peace….
    Jong won oppa do…..

    Yo Jae & Jong won

  21. I knew that there were one or two people who had visited / looked after Sena in London before her mother came, but I didn’t know who you were or how to contact you. I’m glad you now know, but I’m sorry it’s only now that you found out.

    She collapsed in the street in Seoul. She was taken to hospital and was in intensive care for a couple of weeks, not really able to communicate from what I hear. I understand she seemed to be improving and so was moved out of intensive care, but she passed away soon after.

    Anyway, I said farewell to Sena at her 사십구재 a couple of weeks ago. Her mother in particular was grateful to have the messages of condolence from Sena’s friends and colleagues in London. Sorry you didn’t have the chance to add your own message.

  22. I will be in Korea by the end of next month.
    I am not sure if I her mum will be ok if I go there when I have time or not.

    Is it ok to ask you for her address?
    I know I will be busy caring my new born baby but I want to find time to go.
    Or maybe this will not be a good idea as it is a bit too late and I might make it more hard for her mother…

    What do you think, Philip?
    Is it better to go?
    Is it a bit too late??

    1. Hello, Is it possible to get copies of these articles that were published? I am her cousin, Kim, from the United States, and I just happened upon this link.

      Thank you,


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