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“Disabled Person Can Help Other Disabled People.”

Posted July. 30, 2002 22:31,   


“Now, I understood why God ordered me to dedicate my life to the physically challenged.”

On July 30, when Cheong Duck-hwan (56) got an honorary diploma from Yonsei Univ. 36 years after his admission to the school, his voice trembled. He, a former national Judo athlete, is the director of Eden Welfare Foundation, which runs a welfare center for the handicapped.

Yonsei University has decided, July 30, to award an honorary diploma to Mr. Cheong, appreciating his dedication to the welfare and rehabilitation of handicapped people. In middle, and high school days, he swept National Judo Championships and National President’s Cup Judo Championships. In 1966, when he was admitted to Yonsei Univ., he was selected as a national Judo athlete.

However, in 1972, when he was a junior, after completing his military duty, he hurt his neck seriously and was pronounced totally paralyzed. He had to quit study. At that time, the university did not have proper facilities for the handicapped.

In 1976, his wife, Lee Soon-duk, now 54 years old, visited the University, in vain, to help his husband in despair by asking for a coaching job.

“I was disappointedly going out of the campus in my wheelchair, which my wife was pushing, and heard God’s voice.

The voice led him into the right direction. In 1980, he opened a small shop in Guro4-dong, Guro-gu, and founded Eden Welfare Center, a job-training facility for the disabled, with the money he scraped up. The center was renamed Eden House. With an annex for welfare, he started rehabilitation and welfare business for disabled people.

The center was accredited as a welfare foundation in 1990, and moved to Paju city, Geonggi. The facility now institutionalizes 86 disabled people including those suffering from cerebral palsy and mentally retarded people. They produce garbage bags, and record annual sales of more than 3.0 billion Won.

“I will think of the welfare work as a call, and do my utmost to help severely disabled support themselves, Mr. Cheong said. “I really appreciate my two sons and my wife, who has been part of me.

Dong-Yong Min mindy@donga.com