We depend on sights too much these days, looking negatively at the things which go beyond our usual range. Perhaps physically and mentally challenged people would be a good example. The number of handicapped people in Korea is three million, which amounts to 10% of the Korean population. In other words, they are not a social minority any longer, rather a group that counts for a big part in social composition as a whole. Negative prejudice and antipathy toward them should disappear.
However, our eyes towards them are still cold. When we are in downtown like Myungdong, we can see people still look at disabled people as if they are seeing an animal in the zoo. The drama called ‘Wind Blows in Winter,’ which sensationally became popular last winter, well represents the ways a physically challenged person is treated in our society. Actress Song Hye Kyo took the role of a blind person, and she said that she heard many stories about people who are visually impaired through the welfare center to prepare her role in the drama. She said that she could understand their situation and even indirectly felt like she became one of them.
As such, is there any other way to experience what it’s like to be a disabled person to understand them? There is an experience exhibition titled, ’Dialogue in the Dark’ for public.
’Dialogue in the Dark’ is an exhibition and workshop performed in darkness, which breaks the physical connection between people. Its purpose is to build communication with others using various senses besides sight. It could be a good opportunity to realize how people with disabilities associate with other people. The exhibition started with a brief orientation by staff before the admission; a stick is given and the staff explains how the experience will proceed. Then we enter the darkness for 90 minutes with a road master and four pairs of participants.
At first, it is likely to feel fear because we are in total darkness as if we closed our eyes. But it will soon disappear thanks to the kind guidance and explanation by the road master. Being in darkness will increase your faith in your partner and concentration on scent and sound as well. As the one who experienced it ahead of you, I recommend the following way. First, you should close your eyes. Second. hold your partner’s hand with one hand and touch the wall with the other. I think it’s better to give up the attempt to see, as you would get tired soon if you open your eyes in the darkness for a long time.
It’s better not know how the exhibition is composed, because it is more exciting to experience yourself not knowing what’s going to happen. If you want to know, I would simply say that it’s about changing environments and also about the importance of the sense of touch. Also there is a hidden reversal during the experience. I just would like to let you experience yourself at the exhibition.
The exhibition was designed by Dr. Andreas Heinecke for a colleague’s rehabilitation who had become disabled by an unexpected accident. Since 1988, more than 7 million people from 160 cities in 30 countries across the world have experienced the exhibition. It has produced the effect of providing jobs for more than 7 thousand blind people, and the figure demonstrates how many people have been interested in this social issue of the ‘difference’. However, Korea’s policy and consciousness level towards the disabled is lower than those of other countries. What about you? Do you still feel the “difference” when you see disabled people? I would like you to have time to understand them by taking this opportunity.
※ The admission fee is 30,000 won. But you can enjoy it for a discounted fee of 5,000 won through having a Sarang ticket, if you are under 24 or over 65. Also there are many discounts including morning discounts on weekdays, birthday discounts, and group discounts for groups over 4 and groups over 20, and so on. < Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >