Update : Saturday, February 24, 2018
Birth of a Nation, Reborn with TaekwondoSouth Sudan’s journey through the conflict

“Development, sport and peace like Korea,” say the South Sudanese representatives.

Even with its independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan’s hardship did not stop its progress especially with the onset of ethnic conflict.

In the meanwhile, the South Sudanese had gotten themselves a Sudanese coach to train the young nation into a stably taekwondo growing nation. But nothing eased the situation when the coach had unexpectedly passed in a horrifying “boda boda” accident. With no taekwondo leadership, the South Sudanese taekwondo community was left unfounded.

The passion of taekwondo-in in South Sudan withered not, and they continued to train until they met Master Seongsu Kim, a ROK Army Major under the United Nation Mission in South Sudan. With him, the South Sudanese taekwondo community found itself back onto its foothold. Major Kim did not only train the South Sudanese but he welcomed everyone without any discrimination.

Chirilo Aleu Bol Kuot (L), Isaac Anthony Jiggo, South Sudanese Secretary General Reuben Nichola (R)

Today, there was an interview with the South Sudanese National Team at the 2017 Muju WTF World Taekwondo Championships. Here, Secretary General Reuben Nichola, also the director and coach, and two athletes, Chirilo Aleu Bol Kuot (M-54kg) and Isaac Anthony Jiggo (M-68kg) brightened the Arena with their spirit energized from the hope to compete.

After several flights from Juba to Seoul, they had been only dreaming of entering the arena to play among the champions of the world taekwondo community.

Whereas there were only South Sudanese 500 taekwondo-in before 2013, there are more than thousands of practitioners now. With five clubs in Juba, there are also more clubs in other states. Taekwondo consistently attracts the South Sudanese.

Chirilo Aleu Bol Kuot said, “although I wanted to study medicine, I had been active in sports with football and volleyball. But then, I found taekwondo. It introduced me to a whole new plane of excitement. I continued to pursue my passion in both medicine to become a doctor and taekwondo as a sport. Now, I have become a taekwondo athlete in representing the proud South Sudanese flag.”

A student in the University of Juba, Chirilo Kuot excels in both studying medicine and training in taekwondo. As he has completed three out of six years of education, Chirilo will proceed to residency for two years to eventually become a general surgeon. One day, he hopes to heal the sick and injured as Father John Lee had done in Tonz.

“I had started learning taekwondo before the independence in Khartoum. While I have been diligently training, I find it difficult to compete in this Championships. I had never expected the food and weather to be so different from South Sudan,” said Issac Anthony in response to the question in regard to his adaptation to the new environment before competing.

The Secretary General urges the global society and Korea for help in developing his country. He said, “we want to spread this beautiful combat sport across the country, but we just don’t have the resources. We want to learn from the best, and we want to become the best!”

South Sudan is in a dire need of continued support from the global society for the stabilization of its government as it has recently transitioned from a transitional government. It still has many internally displaced persons and violence erupting across the country. The in-opposition forces still remain in control in the northern region surrounding the Sobat River.

The conflict since 2013 is tormenting everyone in the country. As it is too dangerous to travel from a town to another, and a city to another, the South Sudanese are left in immobility—unable to visit their hometowns without risking their lives.

The Secretary General Reuben Nichola said, “taekwondo will unite the divided forty-six ethnicities of South Sudan.”

“Korea has swiftly developed itself with the help from the international community, we too need help from Korea. We want ‘Miracle on the Han River’ to be ‘Miracle on the Nile River’ as the Hanbit Unit had propagated in promotion of its activities."

"We want to build a general hospital in the name of Father John Lee of Tonz, who had given his life for helping and curing the sick. As he had cured the sick and healed their souls in the process in giving hope, the Republic of South Sudan has officially placed him in the history textbooks so that the whole of South Sudan understands his effortful and selfless acts,” he added.

The two athletes are continually developing as taekwondo-in. They want to promote and develop taekwondo in South Sudan, and hopefully develop South Sudan as a nation through taekwondo.

"Taekwondo empowers us. We will make peace through taekwondo," said the South Sudanese National Team.

John Ahn  jh.ahn@srhnc.net

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