Two South Sudanese students try to emulate late Korean priest
July 9 is not a day their South Korean friends mark on their calendars unless it happens to be their birthday or some other anniversary. But for two South Sudanese students here, it became the greatest day of celebrations this year, because their country gained independence that day.
John Mayen, 24, and Santino Deng, 26, both from South Sudan, are in South Korea to study on a scholarship program set up by the late South Korean Catholic priest John Lee Tae-seok, who died last year at the age of 47 after years of philanthropic activities in the war-ravaged African country.
A doctor and musician himself, the priest, nicknamed the “Schweitzer of Sudan,” built a school and a hospital and launched a youth brass band, showing loving care to everyone in the country, which lost 2 million lives in two decades of war against Muslim-led north Sudan.
Father Lee’s dedication to the poorest and sickest people of Tonj was documented in a film released last year following his death. The movie, titled “Don’t Cry for Me, Sudan,” set a box office record for its genre in South Korea.
Mayen and Deng arrived in South Korea separately in 2009 and 2010 after studying at the Don Bosco School that Father Lee set up in the poverty-stricken village, Tonj. They have been friends since they started attending Don Bosco’s primary school.