WITH HIS intellectual ambience and perfect fluency in English, he showed the confidence of a successful middle-aged man. This extraordinary man is Lee Ick-sup (’75, Dept. of Social Welfare), the Chairperson of the DPI Korea (Disabled Peoples’ International Korea) who views the world with his ears and hands. Though, in his pitch-black world, his special efforts and achievements enabled him to emerge as a scintillating ray of light. Fortunately enough, The Yonsei Annals had an opportunity to meet with this brilliant role model.
Getting to shed light on the world
An illness I had when I was eleven years old changed my entire life. My eyesight gradually faded away, and I had to encounter a whole new world since then. The visual inconvenience, however, could not dare limit what I was trying to achieve. Indeed, the steps I had to take in order to achieve a goal required more effort and energy compared to the others. However, with my goals and destination clearly set, I strived to achieve them. Some may consider the blindness as an inconvenience; yet, in fact, it provided me a better chance to comprehend the situation of the people with disabilities, enabling me to enthusiastically stand up for them.
Listening for knowledge
I thought that knowledge is prerequisite for success, so I tried my best to learn. When learning, I mostly depended on my senses of touching and hearing. In fact, obtaining knowledge without seeing involves much concentration and effort. In most cases, learners tend to reconfirm their knowledge by observing their notes; yet, as for the learners without eyesight, they have to seize the evanescent words by listening. In order to learn, I tried not to let go of a single word away from my ears. Primarily, however, had it not been the help and affection of others, it would have been impossible for me to become who I am now.
The helpers of my life
Helping hands from volunteers and beloved people brightened my life. Braille books and tapes are vital for visually challenged people; gratefully enough, the volunteers helped actively in making Braille books, so that the visually challenged people could perceive the world with the tips of their fingers. Moreover, thanks to my family and friends, I was able to endure hardships I encounter due to the blindness. Among those cherished people around me, I would like to mention about my mother who helped me tremendously in my life. Not only did she provide me a psychological refuge, but also, she fervently assisted me by learning the Braille method herself.
Human rights of physically challenged people in Korea
Throughout my life, I have discovered numerous violations on human rights of people with disabilities in Korea. Although the situation for them did improve over time, it is irrefutable that physically challenged people are still minorities who are being discriminated against. As I experienced the harsh treatments myself, I desperately felt the need to take action for human rights. In order to ameliorate the situation, I strived to learn, and enthusiastically participated in various activities to contribute to society. As a result, I was able to become the first person with disabilities to become a professor in Korea, and also the Chairperson of DPI which is a worldwide event for people with disabilities.
Words to Yonseians
A message I would like to convey is that students should have visions and take challenges. The visual inconvenience provided me a challenge to confront, but my vision towards my goal helped me to bring a change. My vision is to improve the situation of the people with disabilities and contribute to the overall society. Blooming Yonseians, you have a vast future lying ahead, so confront your challenges with your own visions. By doing so, you could become an element of the light that could brighten this world.