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Barrier-free movies in 100 years of Korean film history: How blind and deaf 'feel' movies Updated: 2019-10-25 16:28:25 KST

Meet Jung Mi-ryung, a woman who enjoys movies differently than most of us.
She comes to this particular cinema in Seoul, once every month, at 2PM sharp.
Instead of booking tickets online, she gets her ticket at a temporary ticket booth where people from deaf and blind associations distribute special movie tickets.
Blind for 12 years, she's been asked how she can 'WATCH' a movie, but she says all she needs to do is just listen.

"Since I went blind, I can only enjoy movies with an audio explanation. It's the same story only without images. I listen to the acting, the facial expressions of characters, how well it's written and what kind of sounds it has. But only a few movies are re-made as 'barrier-free' movies."

Barrier-free movies are films with an audio description to explain what is happening on the screen, or Korean subtitles that narrate dialogue, music and sounds, so that the handicapped can enjoy movies.

The first 'barrier-free film' in Korea started off in the first 'Persons with Disabilities Film Festival' in 2000, organized by the Korea Association of the Deaf.

Then in 2012, two barrier-free movies were screened at regular cinemas under the production of professional movie directors, actors, and script writers.
While previous versions faithfully explained the various on-screen action, the Korean Barrier Free Films Committee gathered movie officials to make the first high-quality barrier-free versions that described the overall context and how they were acted by the cast.

However, there's still a way to go in terms of limited screenings.

"The selections are very limited. Cinemas and times are also restricted. I wanted to see 'Joker' but couldn't. As international films require subtitles, I cannot enjoy them unless the dialogue is dubbed into Korean along with audio descriptions."

To better promote inclusive cultures of people in different forms, KOBAFF holds education programs and screens self-made barrier-free films for free.

"The visually and hearing impaired are not in the circle of commercial audiences. In order for the disabled and others to enjoy movies together in one space, we need a 'Closed System', which offers selective subtitles and audio descriptions,such as smart glasses and applications for subtitles and headphones for audio services."

Kim added social recognition and help at the government level are needed to implement such infrastructure for a barrier-free society.
Choi Jeong-yoon, Arirang News.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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