S. Korea's Blind Masseurs Protest Threat to Livelihood

Government opens profession to sighted
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2008 12:54 PM CDT
South Korean blind masseurs struggle with riot policemen during a rally against government's policy on a bridge in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Blind masseurs in South Korea are protesting what they see as the end of a way of life—and their livelihood, CNN reports. Police arrested 26 yesterday who gathered on a bridge and threatened to jump because the government is for the first time allowing sighted people to become licensed masseurs. Two actually did jump, but neither were injured. The massage profession had been restricted to the legally blind since 1963.

"Medical massage is almost the only profession that is open to the blind people. The ministry's decision is threatening our right to live," said one protester. On the flip side, sighted South Koreans want to work legally. "It breaks my heart that what I consider my calling is a crime," says one.