How Disabled-Friendly is South Korea for Characters Like Im Sol from "Lovely Runner"?

If you've watched the K-drama "Lovely Runner," you might wonder if South Korea is a disabled-friendly country for people like the character Im Sol who is paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident when she was young.

© tvN - Lovely Runner

The answer is mixed. Major cities like Seoul have accessible subways, buses, and buildings. High-end hotels accommodate wheelchairs, and tourist attractions offer discounts. Uneven sidewalks and streets can make getting around difficult. South Korea's mountainous landscape also presents obstacles, with many scenic locations lacking proper ramps or accessible paths and some might not be used to seeing people with disabilities out and about.

© Next Entertainment World

Despite these obstacles, South Korea is making an effort in accessibility. A notable example is a hair salon in Seoul's Nowon-gu district called "Hue (休)." Opened in September 2022, it is the first salon in the country to provide comprehensive beauty services specifically for people with disabilities. These services include haircuts, dyeing, perms, and clinical treatments.

The salon is a collaboration between the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Nowon-gu district, and the Madeleine Social Welfare Center. Initially, appointments were only available to registered disabled residents of Nowon-gu and were fully booked for three months. Due to its success, a second branch opened in Gongneung in November 2023, reducing wait times.

"Hue (休)" offers more than just accessible entrances. It features a foot-operated entrance switch, adjustable shampoo stands for side-lying washing, and a lift for those with severe physical limitations. Social workers are also present to provide counseling and welfare information to guardians.

© tvN - Record of Youth 

These features were developed through consultations with disability groups and experts. The salon aimed to create an environment comparable to high-end salons in Gangnam but tailored to the needs of disabled individuals.

Ultimately, "Hue (休)" strives to provide a comfortable and convenient experience for all customers, regardless of their abilities. The salon's name, "Hue," which means "rest" in Korean, reflects its commitment to inclusivity. This initiative highlights South Korea's ongoing efforts toward a more inclusive society.

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