Thursday, June 01, 2006

Blind Masseurs Opposing Court's Decision

I had to post something briefly on this issue because I keep seeing video of blind masseurs jumping into the Han River off the Mapo bridge near where I live. They seem to have built a hanging platform and are occupying it. Police in boats seem to pick up whoever jumps.

As the Choson reports "

The Constitutional Court by a majority of seven to one [last] Friday ruled against a law that reserves the occupation of masseur for the blind or vision-impaired.

The court reasoned the law infringes on the freedom of occupation stipulated in the Constitution.

The ruling clears the way for anyone to become a masseur but may threaten the livelihood of vision-impaired masseurs. The Korean Masseurs Association said the ruling was tantamount to depriving visually disabled people of the only means to make a living. “It is the same as telling us to leave the country,” it said.

And, according to Arirang TV, protestors gathered in front of the Constitutional Court in Seoul on Monday. I also saw footage of them blocking the subway as well on tuesday, delaying trains substantially.

Curious how this issue will be resolved. This was the first I had heard of it.

In other news, the GNP seems to have won most of the municipal and regional seats in yesterday's election, but you can read about that just about anywhere.


  1. I have just stumbled across your blog while doing a google search on the blind masseur ruling, and no doubt will check it out in the future.

    I did the google search after listening to an Australian radio podcast called the Law Report that I regularly listen to- being (amongst other things) an Aussie law student taking a break to live/work in Korea for a year. To my surprise this week's podcast included a segment on the blind masseur ruling.

    A couple of things I found interesting:

    * That this employment situation was introduced during the Japanese colonial period to provide employment for a group that is often discriminated against in employment in Korea- discrimination that some consider to be entrenched in Eastern ideology where disabled persons are being punished for wrongs of past lives.

    * That although some positive discrimination laws exists to ensure employment of disabled individuals, many employers would rather pay the fines associated with non-compliance than participate.

    Sorry about the rant- have just realised how long this comment is!


  2. I think you are right. I was just in taiwan and, guess what, there were blind masseurs here and there. There is also a leper colony left from the japanese where the lepers are fighting to keep their village (they were mistreated by both the japanese and taiwanese till 1982, but have lived in the colony -- a really nice place, all old japanese architecture, a historic site in it own right) from being paved over... really interesting...