I, too, had a dream to become a famous athlete. I never thought of giving up the dream by myself.
Twenty-six years ago, when I was 19, I lost the sight of both my eyes due to an accident.
I couldn’t see my parents and close friends of my school days and my sportswear with the national flag on it. Everything just seemed to cave in on top of me. It was a spring day, but I felt my heart icy.
With endless darkness, I abandoned my dream.
The agony didn’t escape even in my sleep; I lived on my nerve endings.
I didn’t know there was a benevolent care for me warmer than that of my parents.
One day, I was told a heart-touching story.
It was that education and production of prosthetic appliances for persons with disabilities are borne by the state and protection for them including medical treatment, labour and life are guaranteed by law.
I was moved by the affection of the socialist system that ensures a happy, independent and creative life even for persons with disabilities as social beings.
Having lost eyesight, what can I do?
I was wrapped in frustration.
At that time, artistic activities of persons with disabilities shocked me. In general, people think of these persons as unfortunate ones who are full of tears and despair. But they gave pleasure to people with singing and playing instruments.
As I heard the news, I felt ashamed.
To be disabled doesn’t mean the suspension of my civic duty.
I made up my mind to fulfil the duty of a citizen for the country that administers excellent policies for persons with disabilities.
I took out my sportswear which I had kept in depth along with my dream. I felt with my hand the national flag on the sportswear.
I will follow suit. I will have the national flag hoisted by my efforts. Now it’s the beginning.
I started training, filled with patriotic determination to devote my all for the country that takes more care for persons with disabilities and bestows warm affection on them.
Sometimes, I became uncertain about my determination.
At last, in March Juche 105 (2016), I took part in the 4th China Open Athletics Championships 2016 IPC Athletics Grand Prix held in Beijing of China.
I ran the course round after round.
When I ran about half of the course, I felt pain in the leg hurt while training.
Should I give up?
At that moment, I felt as if many comrades and other people, whom I have never seen, were looking at me, the people who had helped me by becoming my guide one after another and encouraged me in training.
I also remembered my parents who had told me to win the game and hoist the national flag.
Gathering strength, I ran.
When I crossed the finishing line, tears were streaming down on my face.
As I stood on the podium, the national anthem Patriotic Song was played.
At that moment, I saw the national flag not by my eyes but by my heart, my soul.
Cherishing the state’s policies for persons with disabilities and envisaging its ever-prosperous appearance by my heart, I will follow the road of my life for the good of my motherland.
Kim Chol Ung, president of the Blind Association of Korea