Living in Korea with Children with Physical Disabilities

In 1981, the Korean government passed the Special Education Act for Disabled Children, which called for the integration of children with physical handicaps in the general Korean public education system. Recently, the Korean government has made greater strides in what they do for children with special needs. However, the amount of welfare provisions provided may still not compare with what is offered in your home country or that of other public school systems. For more information about the Korean education system, take a look at our special needs children page. 


While education is an important consideration to take when thinking about raising your child with disability in Korea, there are some other critical areas that will be helpful with making decisions. For example, transportation could be immensely difficult without proper access. Thankfully, the Korean transportation system is known for being particularly comfortable and clean in addition to having a lot of access for wheelchairs, crutches, and so on. Almost all subway stations have escalators and elevators available. There are specially marked areas for wheelchairs and sitting areas for people with disabilities. Additionally, Koreans will generally stand up and allow children to take seats whenever there aren’t any available. On buses, there are areas for wheelchairs, seating areas for people with disabilities, as well as a lift to help wheelchairs to go up. 


However, the distance from a bus stop or subway stop could still be an obstacle so it might be necessary to flag down a taxi. Depending on the time (rush hour, rainy season, etc) and location (popular  hot spots like Gangnam), it can be fairly easy to find a taxi. The expenses can add up long term so it might just be better to rent or purchase a car during your time in Korea. 


In terms of access in the home, Seoul is mainly made up of apartments and condos so it won’t be hard to find something with handicap services like an elevator and ramp and possibly a handicap parking spot (or at least one close to the door). Speak with your potential landlord in advance about these kinds of services and make sure to have it included in a written statement in the contract itself before paying the deposit money most landlords require. There are also real estate agencies galore in Seoul, and they can help you with your search.  


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