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First lady reunites with Cambodian boy in Seoul

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Dec. 22, 2022 - 14:41

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First lady Kim Keon-hee on Wednesday reunited with the 14-year-old boy with heart disease she met in Cambodia. (Yonhap) First lady Kim Keon-hee on Wednesday reunited with the 14-year-old boy with heart disease she met in Cambodia. (Yonhap)

First lady Kim Keon-hee on Wednesday reunited with the 14-year-old boy with heart disease she met in Cambodia during President Yoon Suk-yeol’s visit to Southeast Asia, despite some criticism from the opposition party.

Kim met with Aok Rotha, a Cambodian boy recovering from heart surgery at Asan Medical Center in Seoul on Wednesday afternoon, according to Lee Jae-myoung, vice spokesperson of the presidential office, in a written statement the same day.

“I am so happy to see Rotha recover enough to walk and run again,” Kim was quoted as saying. “The promise to meet again after he regains his health has finally been fulfilled.”

Kim said Yoon was also delighted to hear the news and told the boy not to forget what he could overcome without giving up, even if a moment of despair comes.

In response, Rotha expressed his gratitude, saying, “Thank you for treating me. You are my benefactor.”

Kim also expressed her gratitude to the medical staff for “making a miracle,” The team replied that Rotha, who previously had difficulty even walking, is “now able to stand on his own.”

Last month, Kim visited Rotha’s home in Cambodia on the occasion of Yoon’s trip to Southeast Asia to attend summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and G-20. Her actions were made public through a series of photographs, which the opposition bloc criticized as being overly staged.

Rotha, who suffers from congenital heart disease, underwent surgery in Cambodia in 2018, but could not continue follow-up treatments due to difficult family circumstances, and needed additional surgery.

He came to Korea earlier this month for heart surgery at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, and is now recovering.

On Thursday, Kim also visited an impoverished area around Namdaemun in Seoul, and delivered food and other items to residents. She attended an event organized by the Salvation Army and sponsored by Good People International.