Opening remarks at the “Hope Seoul Nuri Festival” on the occasion of the 2012 International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Date: April 20, 2012
Venue: Seoul Plaza
The weather is breathtakingly beautiful today, inspiring me to make Seoul an even more beautiful city. I hope it was not too difficult for all of you to come here. I would like to sincerely welcome all citizens to the 2012 Hope Seoul Nuri Festival.
Chairman Lee Gyu-dal of the Organizing Committee and related staff, Chairman Heo Kwang-tae and members of the Seoul Metropolitan Council, volunteer workers, and distinguished guests from home and abroad, thank you for attending this event today. I would like to take this opportunity to express my respect and appreciation to today’s awardees, who have overcome their challenges to become role models for our society, and the people who have given their full support to people with disabilities, who differ from others only by the nature of their skills. I sincerely congratulate you on winning the Seoul Welfare Award in the category of people with disabilities.
Today, we celebrate the 32nd International Day of Persons with Disabilities. There are many people in our society with slightly different capabilities, but who lead beautiful and meaningful lives nonetheless. Such people are not lacking in skills, but merely have different skill sets. For example, 15 percent of the hangar managers at Boeing, a global aircraft producer, are hard of hearing, and as people with visual disabilities see the world not with their eyes but through their other senses, they develop unique and remarkable skills, such as the ability to perfectly tune a piano.
The people we consider “abled” also face various difficulties and pain in their lives. People with disabilities simply face different difficulties. As they both live under the same Seoul sky, there are no significant differences between them.
Starting this year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to recruit 10 percent of its new public servants from among people with disabilities, and we will come up with a detailed plan to break down the obstacles they face, both in our hearts and in our systems. On April 18, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the “Hope Seoul Master Plan for People with Disabilities”. This plan is the result of dozens of meetings and discussions held by Yang Won-tae, the honorary vice mayor, and many citizens with disabilities. People with disabilities were not simply the beneficiaries of this policy, but they were active participants in its development. We will not falter nor waver in carrying out this master plan, and we will continuously communicate with you throughout the process in order to maximize its results.
Esteemed citizens of Seoul,
Together with the associations for people with disabilities, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has prepared various programs to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities in such a way that, as equal citizens of Seoul, the disabled and abled can both enjoy the activities without discrimination. A dance program, harmonica performance, orchestra, and an exhibition, all held by people with physical and intellectual disabilities, are some of the main programs planned for today. Also, we ask for your active participation in the “Hopeful Coin Funding” event, which we are hosting together with the Community Chest of Korea.
I would like to take this opportunity to, once again, offer my sincere appreciation and deepest respect to all the people and volunteer workers who have dedicated themselves to providing welfare for the disabled. Dear citizens, I hope you enjoy this beautiful season. Thank you.