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A Wheelchair Trek for Reunification

Posted June. 19, 2006 03:02,   


A Korean handicapped man has set off to cross the European continent in an electric powered wheelchair controlled by his mouth, while having his paralyzed hands and feet fixed with rope.

Choi Chang-hyun (41) is disabled by a severe form of cerebral infantile paralysis. He is on a challenge to move an average of 80km per day for 9 months across 30 European countries. On May 10, he set off from Athens, Greece and went through Rumania and Bulgaria to reach Budapest, Hungary and showed up at Hero Square on June 15 in hot temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius.

He explained that the reason for his adventure was, “As a national of the only divided nation left in the world, I wanted to show many overseas people that there are handicapped people who long for unification of our country.”

The amount of messages Choi received from citizens of each of the four countries he passed through is about 40-50 pages of A4 paper. He also said that if he succeeds in his cross-continental trip by arriving safely in Berlin, the symbolic city of unified Germany, next February, he would like to pass on these messages to North Korea.

The applause that he received from complete strangers has been a big support. He said that he cannot forget the time when an old construction worker building a road near the Rumanian border area stopped his work and came to him to put in his hand a wrinkled two-lei note (about KRW680). Choi emphasized, “The two leis that he gave me was greater and more grateful than two billion won that any large company could give.” He added that “it is not regretful to be born as a handicapped man because I can touch so many people.”