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The second drama in Pyeongchang

Posted March. 10, 2018 07:58,   

Updated March. 10, 2018 07:58


When the famous music duo Clon hit the stage at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Paralympics, the distinction between people with and without disabilities disappeared. All there is left was an exciting festival itself. Kang Won-rae, who was paralyzed from the waist down due to a car accident in 2000, did not seem to have lost the excitement in him and Koo Joon-yup, who has been keeping a strong friendship with Kang, showed a powerful performance on stage. Their performance was an expression‎ of the concept of the opening ceremony “coexistence.”

The name Paralympic itself means coexistence. According to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), “The word Paralympic is a combination of para, which means side by side in Greek, and Olympic.” It means Paralympic is a multi-sport event held side by side with Olympics and where people with and without disabilities go together. Since the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, Paralympics have been held in parallel with the Olympics. At first, Paralympic only involved paraplegic athletes, but it came to involve more athletes with a wider range of disabilities including limb deficiency and visual impairment.

Para-alpine ski directly shows the coexistence between people with and without disabilities. Para-alpine ski is for the visually impaired where a guide runner in front of the skier leads ahead, both with wireless Bluetooth headsets for communication while going down the slope. Whether it is an alpine or cross country, communication between the skier and the guide runner determines the results. This is why when the skier wins a medal, the same medal is awarded to the guide runner as well. There is another game that also requires a guide runner. Visually-impaired para-biathlon players depend on their guide runner for the shooting. Para-alpine skier Yang Jae-rim, who will be competing at the upcoming PyeongChang Paralympics, and her guide Ko Unsori have been working together for four years.

A guide runner is not an only companion for players. All players have companion called support. “There is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being. But we share the same human spirit. What is important is that we have the ability to create. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at,” said Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. I want to send the warmest support to the athletes, who will “make the second drama” at the PyeongChang Paralympic Games for the next 10 days.

Sung-Won Joo swon@donga.com