Power of positive attitudesKim Kyung-min, who studied education in college as a visually handicapped person, has made her dream come true. She passed the national teacher certification examination yesterday and will teach at a normal school, not at a school for the handicapped. Her guide dog Midami has now become her companion not only in learning but in teaching, too.
Jeon Woo-young, afflicted from birth with cerebral palsy, is now working as a copywriter for a big advertising agency after beating 99 other applicants. (See story on Page 3.) He received high recommendations, particularly for his ability to choose just the right words, and also for his social skills with other colleagues.
Both of them have something in common: a positive attitude that regards their disabilities as inconveniences, not causes for misery. Kim graduated from a renowned university at the top of her class - and earlier than students without handicaps. She said, “Even with a physical handicap, I can build up my creativity. If a physical disability is unavoidable, I would rather enjoy it.” There are many youths who quickly give up when faced with a small hurdle. We have the utmost respect for these two young people’s attitudes toward life.
However, our society is still full of obstacles for the handicapped. The number of people registered with a physical disability has reached 2.4 million. One out of 20 citizens is handicapped, physically or mentally.
Yet the employment rate for them was 1.87 percent as of 2009, lower than the 2 percent mandated by the government. It’s even worse in the education field. Last year the placement rates of handicapped teachers stopped short of 1 percent. Support for children who need special education is lacking as only 2,155 students among the 7,111 three- to five-year-olds registered as handicapped received benefits. It reflects a dark reality when politicians say they want to provide universal free education without paying attention to desperate funding needs. Last year, a father of a handicapped child committed suicide to allow his kid to “receive more benefits when I die.” That illustrates the hardships of the handicapped in this country.
Stories of overcoming disabilities always conjure up emotions. The entire society should weave such emotional stories together through mutual story-building by doing something to help the handicapped. Only when our society removes unfair hurdles can handicapped people’s dreams be given wings and not become a burden.