In Korea, there are some 70 guide dogs trained to lead blind and visually impaired people around obstacles. The law allows the guide dogs to enter public areas or restaurants that are inaccessible to other pet animals. However, entry of these assistant dogs are still denied in many facilities. The National Human Rights Commission has ordered the correction of such unfair practice.
[Soundbite] “Se-chan, let’s go forward. Good.”
Park Jeong-hun, met his guide dog, Se-chan, four years ago.
[Soundbite] “Se-chan, find a crosswalk on the left.”
Se-chan has become a vital part of this visually impaired individual’s life. Park can’t imagine going out without his canine companion.
[Soundbite] PARK JEONG-HUN(WITH CLASS 1 VISUAL IMPAIRMENT) : “He is my friend and family. I can’t describe it exactly. He is very precious to me.”
However, it is not easy for Park and his assistance dog when they’re out and about. A good example is what they experience at restaurants.
[Soundbite] (RESTAURANT EMPLOYEE(VOICE MODIFIED)) : “No, it can’t. (Can’t it enter? Guide dogs are allowed to enter a restaurant.) I am sorry. But no.”
[Soundbite] (RESTAURANT EMPLOYEE(VOICE MODIFIED)) : “No, it can’t. Tie it somewhere outside. (Why?) A dog can’t enter. No. It’ll get fur everywhere.”
One can never get used to such rejections, no matter how frequent. Park always gets nervous and defensive when using public transportation including taxis.
[Soundbite] (TAXI DRIVER(VOICE MODIFIED)) : “Ah, I can’t let that dog ride my cab. (It is a guide dog. Can’t you let it in?) No. No dogs allowed. Call another taxi.”
The act on welfare for people with disabilities stipulates that guide dogs must not be denied entry to public facilities and restaurants without clear reasons, when they accompany their owners. These animals are professionally trained to assist those with disabilities. They regularly receive medical checkups at hospitals. People with visual impairment hope there will be no