Leroy Moore, a fierce disabled hip hop artist and activist, posted a news item on his myspace about CLON, a Korean/Corean dance duo that recently put out an album. One of the singers, Kang Won-Rae, acquired a spinal cord injury in 2000 and the album focuses on his experience with disability.
Being an old time Kpopper myself (y’know, posters, magazines, and boy band stationery in junior high), this really intrigued me. I spent two hours searching Korean search engines and found articles about how he was changing social stigma around disability. While I was reading the lyrics to one of his songs out loud to myself, my mom came in and asked if that was Kang Won Rae on the screen. I was surprised that she knew who he was considering that the only contemporary music she knows is Simon and Garfunkel (and I’m not sure that is considered contemporary anymore?). However, what was even more surprising is when she casually stated that I had met this guy on my last trip to Seoul.
She was right. The ONE disabled person I talked to in Seoul just happened to be a k-pop star.
5 years ago, I met him in the parking lot of KBS television studios. My family and I had gone to take a tour and when my aunt’s pastor saw him, realized who he was, and ran after Won Rae and told him to say hello to us because we were American. Yes I know. We made out with that really bad, really entitled we’re-from-across-the-world-cough-America-card. Anyways, after he said a quick hello, he wheeled off and I went home not knowing who he really was (he was DJing, instead of dancing, for a few years after his accident). Still, it’s cool to realize it was him and see how he is doing. From what I’ve heard, I like the album because it’s honest about his SCI transition but not in a Christopher Reeve courageous hero way.
Anyways, here is a dance performance of a song, titled My Love Songi, he wrote to his wife (Songi) after the injury. She’s the woman they keep showing that is misty-eyed— not some random fan that’s heartbroken because he’s gimped out: