President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee invited 14-year-old Aok Rotha from Cambodia, who underwent heart surgery in Korea, to the presidential office on Tuesday.
“President Yoon met with Aok Rotha, who was preparing to return home after successfully completing heart surgery, at the presidential office this afternoon,” said Yoon’s chief of public relations Kim Eun-hye in a press briefing on the day.
Yoon gave Rotha a soccer ball after learning that he had never played soccer before due to his illness, Kim said. Yoon and Rotha tossed the ball back and forth.
First lady Kim expressed her gratitude to Korean Air for bringing him safely to Korea, saying that she was worried about whether Rotha could be safely transported from Cambodia to Korea, according to a written statement released by the presidential office in the afternoon.
Kim also expressed her gratitude and admiration for the medical staff at Asan Medical Center in Seoul who helped Rotha make a successful recovery after his surgery.
“Since meeting Rotha in Cambodia in November, everything that has happened so far feels like a miracle,” Kim said in the statement.
First lady Kim first visited Rotha’s home in Cambodia in November 2022 on the occasion of Yoon’s trip to Southeast Asia to attend summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Group of 20.
Rotha, who suffered from congenital heart disease, underwent surgery in Cambodia in 2018. However, he could not continue receiving follow-up treatments due to difficult family circumstances, and required additional surgery.
He came to Korea earlier in December for heart surgery at Asan Medical Center in Seoul.