The Korea Herald


Two students of Priest Lee Tae-seok become medical specialists

By Lim Jae-seong

Published : Feb. 24, 2024 - 16:01

    • Link copied

Thomas Taban Akot (left) and John Mayen Ruben in 2016 (Busan Paik Hospital) Thomas Taban Akot (left) and John Mayen Ruben in 2016 (Busan Paik Hospital)

Two South Sudanese students of Catholic priest Lee Tae-seok, who is known for the documentary “Don’t Cry for Me Sudan," have become medical specialists in Korea.

Thomas Taban Akot (40) and John Mayen Ruben (38) passed the national certification test to be a surgeon and a physician respectively on Tuesday, Fr. John Lee Memorial Foundation told the Korea Herald.

It has been 12 years since they enrolled in the medical school of Inje University in Busan, after graduating Don Bosco School Tonj, South Sudan, established by the late priest.

The medical school is also Lee's alma mater. Lee later turned into a priest and served as a doctor, educator, and missionary in war-torn South Sudan between 2001 and 2008.

The documentary made by South Korea’s broadcaster KBS features moving stories of Lee and the residents of Tonj town. The documentary was a national sensation across South Korea and recorded 443,000 admissions, a rarity for a documentary film.

Lee advised Akot and Ruben to study medicine to help people in their country suffering from a lack of doctors and they began study in South Korea in 2009, with help from Fr. John Lee Memorial Foundation, organized to support Priest Lee in 2003.

Lee died from colorectal cancer in 2010, but the two doctors kept their studies in South Korea. They acquired doctor’s licenses in 2020 and were trained at Busan Paik Hospital and Sanggye Paik Hospital in Seoul.

In an interview with local media, the two doctors expressed appreciation to Lee for letting them know about Korea and inspiring them to study medicine, as well as everyone who helped them to finish the trainee doctor course.