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Barrier-free Performances for All October 19, 2018

Yonsei student brings barrier-free performances to 2018 PyeongChang Olympics


“I wanted to create barrier-free performances that everyone, including the disabled, can enjoy.”


Yonsei student Kyeong-Eob Wang (’16) is eliminating barriers to provide accessible performances for all at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.


An Information & Industrial Engineering major and member of Yonsei’s student musical club Run on The Musical Stage (ROTHEMS), Wang will show performances of various genres, including musicals, operas, and ballets, at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. “I hope to create a performance culture that is enjoyed and accessible to all members of society.”


Wang first showed interest in barrier-free performances while planning a ROTHEMS musical back in October 2016. It all started when he noticed a disabled audience member uncomfortably watch the performance. “I knew the moment I saw someone in a wheelchair at the theater that I wanted to make a change. Making musicals more accessible to the public is one of our club’s priorities,” said Wang.


That night, Wang began researching the current population and status of disabled audiences and was surprised to learn that the disabled accounted for only 2% of the annual audience for musicals. He then reached out to barrier-free performance production company EMFO Company and began making concrete plans to achieve his goals.


Determined to meet technical requirements on his own, Wang got the idea to utilize a video calling app. In September 2017, he succeeded in staging a barrier-free musical The Ballad of Pimatgol for an audience of 2,000 people that included over 90 disabled guests with vision or hearing impairments. The disabled audience fully enjoyed the performance by reading subtitles or hearing the narration on their mobile phones. In acknowledgement of Wang’s good intentions, the musical was invited to show at the annual arts festival held by the Federation of Disability Culture & Arts Association of Korea and was featured in magazines and radio programs.


So-young Chang, music director of The Ballad of Pimatgol and Yonsei alumnus, played a crucial role in helping Wang stage the show with success. She also invited Joo-yeon Kim, music director of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics Organizing Committee, to see the musical together and both were amazed by the barrier-free performance. “Let’s appraise the PyeongChang Olympics’ message of harmony and hold barrier-free musical gala shows and performances for everyone to enjoy together,” they suggested to Wang, which he gladly accepted.


Thus, Wang founded Linkey, a barrier-free performance organization he created for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. A combination of the words “link” and “key”, Linkey signifies the key that can open theater doors previously locked against the disabled. Through Linkey, a team of disabled and non-disabled performers will give eight performances at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.


“My biggest challenge was the lack of quality content and an effective platform. Even when someone made the effort to hold a barrier-free performance, the only way to publicize the event had been through community welfare centers. But now I know the way to resolve this and I plan to make changes gradually, starting with the Olympics. I hope that all cultural programs will become equally accessible to both disabled and non-disabled audiences in the future,” said Wang.


Name: Kyeong-Eob Wang (Class of 2016)

Major: Information & Industrial Engineering

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