South Jeolla to recommend two Austrians for the NobelThe South Jeolla provincial government in southwestern South Korea is moving to launch a committee tasked with recommending two Austrian nuns as recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, provincial government officials said Monday.
The move calls for the committee to be established for the recommendations of sisters Marianne Stoeger, 82, and Margareta Pissar, 81, for the prize in recognition of their treatment of leprosy patients on South Korea’s most famous leper colony of Sorok Island off the country’s southern coast.
Former Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik has been appointed to lead the committee, with first lady Kim Jung-sook, wife of President Moon Jae-in, to serve as its honorary head.
Moon attended a ceremony to confer honorary citizenship of Goheung, a town in the province, on Stoeger and made a surprise visit to the island in May 2016 when he was the leader of the ruling Democratic Party.
The officials say the visit is what led to the first lady’s participation in the formation of the committee.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, a former South Jeolla governor who has shown keen interest in the two nuns since his stint as the governor, will throw his weight behind the project.
Lee asked Kim Youn-joon, a priest of the cathedral on the island, to give an account of them on Aug. 17 when the government shows “Marianne and Margareta,” a film depicting the life of the two Austrian nuns, at the government complex in Seoul. After graduating from the nursing college of the University of Innsbruck, the two women came to the island in 1962 and 1966, separately, upon hearing that the colony was in need of nurses. They resided on the island for more than 40 years to work at the National Sorok Island Hospital before returning to their home country in 2005.
Despite their long years of duty, the two, often called “the Angels of Sorok Island,” did not receive any remuneration for their service and only devoted themselves to caring for and improving the welfare of the leprosy-stricken there.