By Pamela Dozois

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Dr. Hyun K. Lee, one of the longest-practicing acupuncturists in the Santa Ynez Valley. He has been practicing Oriental Medicine at Valley Medical and Professional Center since his arrival in the valley in the fall of 1999.

In addition to helping numerous patients over the years with their aches and pains, he also deals with complex issues such as Parkinson’s, Chron’s Disease, COPD, chronic allergies, and auto immune diseases, among others.

He has also helped patients look their best for special occasions, beautifying them with Oriental Medicine face lifts. He has also helped to bring new life into the valley by helping patients overcome their infertility issues and achieve their dreams of a family.  

But, in addition to his professional skills, few people are aware of Lee’s interesting background as a political refugee, or of his hobbies.

 Lee is a double immigrant, having had to flee his home as a child in North Korea to South Korea when the Communists took over, then immigrating with his family again from South Korea to the United States, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1995.

Lee was schooled by his father, grandfather and great-grandfather in Oriental Medicine, herbology and acupuncture in Korea. After immigrating to the United States he obtained his California Acupuncture license upon graduating in 1999 from the prestigious South Baylo University School of Acupuncture in Los Angeles.

He worked as an acupuncturist in Los Angeles in a group practice but then decided to open a clinic in the Santa Ynez Valley.

He received his Ph.D. in Korean Constitutional Medicine and herbology in 2010. He holds a U.S. Doctorate in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture, which he received in 2014. He is also a Certified Master Oriental Herbalist. He gives acupuncture seminars in Korean, and participates in numerous acupuncture and Oriental Medicine conferences, to keep current on new innovations. 

Lee has received numerous accolades and awards for his outstanding contributions to his field, one of which was from the Oriental Medicine Herbal Research Center for his innovative research and teaching on herbal formulas and acupuncture.

He also received a teaching award from the American Korean Acupuncture Association for his facial acupuncture technique and another for his leading research and teaching on Oriental herb formulas and acupuncture. He is also an elected member of the Incurable Disease Research Center in Los Angeles.

“Dr. Lee is a wonderful and caring man. He is highly skilled in acupuncture and herbs. My husband James and I have been his patients for over 13 years and I can’t say enough good things about him and his herbs. Whatever our health issues may be, he is always there to take care of us, supporting and guiding us mentally and physically to obtain better health and well-being. I love his use of metaphors in explaining how acupuncture works to create harmony in the body. As he always says, ‘Happy mind, happy body, happy life,’” said Stacey Foss.

“Dr. Lee is a very humble healer whose only focus is to relieve patients from their pain and guide them to obtaining a long and healthy life,” said Amy Hohenfeld, a long-time patient. “As he always says, if you want to go for the gold, which is a long life, free of pain, just follow what he prescribes – acupuncture, herbs, a constitutional diet, moderate exercise and a healthy mind. It’s that simple, and it has worked for me and my family.”

 Despite his busy professional life, Dr. Lee finds the time to fit in a few hobbies.

A keen horseman, he was on the Korean-American Olympic Team in the Asian Olympics held in Taegu in 1992, representing America in dressage. He was also a riding instructor for the Korean-American Riding Association in Los Angeles and Korea, and a board member of the Korean American Federation Riding Association. 

“There were 20 teams in total representing Korean-America and South Korea at the Asian Olympics. Most of the Korean-Americans who flew over from USA chose to compete in the jumping classes, but I chose dressage. Unfortunately we could not fly our horses to Korea, so I was only told the night before which Korean horse I would be riding,” Lee said. “I was so proud to be riding for America. This was a once in a lifetime experience, and it was my first visit back to Korea since I’d left.” 

He also competed successfully in the United States, in hunter-jumper divisions and in dressage, winning first place in 2016 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center on his Holsteiner gelding named Ramsee. 

“As far as I’m concerned, Ramsee won the blue ribbon, I was just along for the ride,” Lee said. “I’ve been privileged to ride some wonderful horses in my lifetime, but Ramsee was a star and my lifetime teacher. I will always be grateful to him for the lessons he taught me and the friendship he gave me.”

Lee gave said he chose to move to the valley and open a clinic was to be closer to his horses. 

“Initially my horses were boarded in Goleta. and when the boarding facility moved to Buellton, I decided to open a clinic in Solvang so I could spend more time with them, and continue to train in dressage,” he said.  “Whenever time allowed, I trained with Susan Derr Drake, a Grand Prix dressage teacher and competitor who competed in 116 Grand Prix dressage events and then later with Ariane Resvani, an FEI-level rider and USDF certified instructor at Silver Cup Training.” 

Lee is also a US certified PADI scuba diver and black belt in the Korean art of Kuk San Do, an ancient martial art that focuses on meditation and breathing techniques to increase physical and mental strength. He also worked as one of the Samurai riders in the movie “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise. 

Lee holds weekly clinics on Wednesdays at the Valley Medical Center, 2030 Viborg Road, Suite 107, in Solvang. He also holds clinics at his office in Los Angeles at 2525 W. Eighth St., Suite 201, and at his office at the Holistic Health Center at 4605 El Camino Real, Suite B, in Atascadero.

For more information, call 310-666-8021.