Disabled doctor wins Seoul Welfare Award
Dr. Kim Jong-bae, a disabled researcher at the National Rehabilitation Center Research Institute, was selected as the winner of the Seoul Welfare Award’s division for the disabled, Wednesday.
The Seoul city government recognized Kim’s efforts in developing various devices to assist the disabled.
They include a robotic aid for eating, a wheelchair to prevent bedsores, wheelchair games, a portable ramp and an automated easel for disabled painters.
“I tried to get as much feedback from the disabled themselves, who would be the actual users of the devices, from design to development and completion,” said the 50-year-old Kim.
Kim has obtained 16 patents for the items he has developed.
He became disabled in 1985 due to an accident in which he injured his neck, while attending Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
“When I was stuck at home unable to move, personal computers and motorized wheelchairs gave me a sense of hope that I could lead a life outside of my home,” said Kim, adding, “I think that’s when I realized the importance of developing aid devices.”
This was the reason he decided to go abroad to study. Kim earned his doctorate degree at the University of Pittsburg.
“I thought that if I learned about the technology in developing aid devices, I would be able help disabled people like myself,” he said.
Kim called on the government to provide more support to enable more disabled individuals purchase the devices and use them. As a developer, he is making an effort to simplify the components of the devices so that production costs can be lowered.
The award ceremony will take place today at an event for the 32nd Day for the Disabled at Seoul Plaza.
The writer is a Korea Times intern.